The Santiniketan School By Kumar, Raman Siva
The Santiniketan School refers to a small group of artists who were active in Santiniketan, a small university town north of Calcutta, from 1921 to the 1950s. The most prominent among these artists are Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), Nandalal Bose (1882–1966), Benodebehari Mukherjee (1904–1980) and Ramkinkar Baij (1906–1980). Their work marks a departure from the historicist moorings of the earlier nationalist movement in Indian art and the development of a contextual modernism sensitive to the physical and cultural environment, as well as to the historical moment in which the artists lived. While Rabindrath Tagore provided the framework, Nandalal Bose fashioned its pedagogic program, which was more broad-based than that of colonial art schools and more modern in outlook. Although it began with anti-colonial and pan-Asian interests, the school’s stress on freedom, and the individual pursuit of elective affinities and eclectic assimilations, meant that it became more cosmopolitan and modernist over the years. Bound by shared concerns rather than a common style, the school represents the most fruitful modernist movement in pre-independence India. Defined more loosely, the Santiniketan School represents a larger circle of artists trained at Santiniketan, encompassing a wider geographical and temporal boundary, and thus includes Satyajit Ray (1921–1992) and K. G. Subramanyan (1924--) among its later luminaries.