'Photos of the Gods': The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India
4e de couv.: "Photos of the gods" is the first comprehensive history of posters, postcards and other printed images that comprise a major dimension of India's popular visual culture. It traces the connections between the production and consumption of these images and the struggle against colonial rule. The detailed output of individual presses and artists over the decades is set against the intensification of the nationalist struggle and the constraints imposed by colonial state censorship, and a half-century of Indian independence since 1947. By combining anthropology, political and cultural history and the study of aesthetic systems, and by including many intriguing and unfamiliar images, "Photos of the gods" shows that India's current predicament and popular culture cannot be understood without taking into account this complex and fascinating visual history. The emergence of Indian-run chromolithograph presses in the late 1870s initiated a vast outpouring of images of an astonishing variety, and outpouring that today has come to dominate many of India's spaces, both public and domestic. Many interviews with both artists ans publishers were undertaken for this book. Among the great variety of artists responsible for the almost bewildering, yet totally compelling, panoply of "photos of the gods" in India are those that trained in the colonial art schools, others whose skills reflect their membership of traditional painting castes, and yet others who began their careers as humble self-taught sign painters. These artists and the presses together helped make rather than merely reflect the politics of their day, hence "Photos of the gods" is not a history of the art of chromolithography but reveals how popular visual culture contributed to history in the making in India.
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