'Photos of the Gods': The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India

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Reaktion Books, 2004 - Art - 239 pages
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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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Contents

The Possibility of a Visual History
7
Indian Images Under the Shadow of Colonialism
13
Staging Hinduism Lithographs and Popular Theatre in Calcutta 18701885
25
Peshwas Parrots and Bombs Lithnographs and Politics in Western India 18701885
45
Lithographs and the Camera in Bombay and Delhi 18901925
59
Pastoral Realism The Nathdvara Devotional Aesthetic 19251935
79
The Politics of Popular Images From Cow Protection to M K Gandhi 18901950
105
HalfSeen in Advance Picture Production in Independent India 19502000
145
The Recursive Archive
201
References
211
Select Bibliography
223
Acknowledgements
226
A Note on Transliteration
227
List of Illustrations
228
Index
231
Copyright

What Pictures Want Now Rural Consumers of Images 19802000
181

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About the author (2004)

Christopher Pinney is Senior Lecturer in Material Culture at University College London. He is the author of Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs (1997).


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