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Creating Modern India
How did a modernist style develop in India between the 1900s and the 1950s? Preti Taneja, who grew up in Letchworth Garden City, traces the way the Garden City Movement inspired the work of Edwin Lutyens in his reshaping of her parents’ New Delhi.
The first generation of post-Independence architects built on this legacy, drawing also from Le Corbusier, who designed India’s first post-partition planned city, Chandigarh, with its famous ‘open hand’ sculpture; and from Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius, to create some of the most iconic public buildings across India today.
In art, something similar was happening: painter MF Hussain and a group of fellow radicals wanting to break away from Indian traditions and make an international statement. They formed The Progressive Artists Group in December 1947, just months after Partition.
Preti Taneja’s essay explores this cultural re-imagining of the new nation, when architects and artists tried to come to terms with India’s political and aesthetic history, looking forward to a future they could design, build and express themselves: one that was meant to shape human behaviour for the better.
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