New Delhi Art Guide

New Delhi, known as India's bustling capital and known for its luscious gardens and rich historical sites, can perhaps also now be known as the main centre for contemporary art in India. The city is home to India Art Fair: India's largest modern and contemporary art fair, with a mission to engage with the cultural history and development of the South Asian region. Established in 2008, the fair is split into sections dedicated to galleries; institutions; solo artist presentations; emerging artists and practices from South Asia; and large-scale, interactive installations.

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New Delhi, however, has a history of modern and contemporary art institutions. Established in 1954 and with branches in Mumbai and Bangalore, the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) was inaugurated with an exhibition on sculptures despite being most known for its collection of renowned artist Amrita Sher-Gil's paintings. The gallery's collection includes over 170,000 works by over 2,000 artists and includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, installations, and, more recently, photographs. The collection mainly consists of Indian artists. Standout sculptors include D.P. Roy Chowdhury, while notable photographers include Raghu Rai. NGMA also showcases international artists, with past exhibitions featuring works by artists such as Pablo Picasso.

For even more modern and contemporary art, you can visit the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), established by Kiran Nadar in 2010. The first private museum of modern and contemporary art exhibitions from India, the KNMA showcases 20th-century Indian painters and Modernist works from both pre- and post-Independence India. Notable artists included in the collection and shows are Nasreen Mohamedi, Arpita Singh, Adeela Suleman, and more. While KNMA is known for its modern and contemporary works from India, the museum also displays international works, such as a previous exhibition on Bauhaus, and older works, such as Indian miniatures. Galleries and non-profit organisations, however, may be the best spots for more contemporary works—and New Delhi is not lacking in either. Notable spaces of this kind are DAG, Exhibit320, and Khoj International Artists' Association.

The city's main and historical art attraction is the National Museum, New Delhi, which is filled with 200,000 works spanning over 5,000 years. The collection includes both pre-historic and modern works of art. An exhibition of Indian art and artefacts by the Royal Academy of Arts in London was shown in India before the works were returned to their respective museums in 1949; the exhibition's success in India led to the establishment of the Museum. The rich collection is categorised in the following sections: Anthropology, Archaeology, Decorative Arts, Jewellery, Manuscripts, Paintings, Pre History, Numismatics & Epigraphy, Central Asian Antiquities, Pre-Columbian & Western Arts, Arms & Armour, and a section entitled Anubhav—a tactile gallery that is aimed particularly at visitors with disabilities.

For a stronger focus on traditional Indian arts and culture, visit the Sanskriti Museums. Founded in 1978 by Shri O.P. Jian and housed within the Sanskriti Kendra complex in artist village complex Anandagram, the Museums are made up of the Museum of Everyday Art, the Museum of Indian Terracotta, and the Museum of Indian Textiles. The Museum of Everyday Art was established in 1984 and is dedicated to craftsmanship, while the Museum of Indian Textiles was established in 2009, starting from the founder's own private collection and functioning more as an academic resource for research on textiles.

Contemporary Institutions In New Delhi

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Khoj contemporary art institution in New Delhi, India Khoj New Delhi

New Delhi In Ocula Magazine

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Bharat Sikka: Frames of Relation Ocula Insight Bharat Sikka: Frames of Relation By Stephanie Bailey, New Delhi

The Sapper, Bharat Sikka's online show with Nature Morte, is a multi-layered portrait of the relationship between the artist and his father—a former Indian Army Corps engineer—through portraits, landscape shots, still lifes, and collages.

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New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata: Shows to See Ocula Report New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata: Shows to See By Kanika Anand, New Delhi

With India Art Fair set to open amid nationwide protests, Kanika Anand introduces shows in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata that express shifting socio-political identities, modes of resistance, and explorations of place-making.

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Raqs Media Collective Ocula Conversation Raqs Media Collective By Anabelle de Gersigny, Delhi

Raqs Media Collective comprises a group of three practitioners—Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta—all based in New Delhi.  The collective was formed in 1992 after its three members graduated from the Mass Communications Research Centre at the Jamia Milia Islamia university in Delhi. Through the...

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Nalini Malani Ocula Conversation Nalini Malani By Emily McDermott, New Delhi

The first encounter I want is that of beauty and I use that device to draw in the spectator. Then I unfold a story, which will have its ups, downs, and contradictions.

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