The Politics of Interior Design: From Viceroy’s House to Rashtrapati Bhavan
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London
Friday 20 May 2016
PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
- Prof. Naman P. Ahuja - Jawaharlal Nehru University
- Zehra Jumabhoy - The Courtauld Institute of Art
- Prof. Deborah Swallow - The Courtauld Institute of Art
Even before he received the contract to design Viceroy’s House and plan New Delhi, there was a hubbub about what the style of the new city should be. What kind of Indian or what kind of Western? An accomplished architect and furniture designer, Lutyens incorporated a variety of influences. He was fastidious about every last detail: colours, fittings, clocks and even doorknobs were each carefully thought out. The present structure of Rashtrapati Bhavan however, is a product of different patron’s re-interpretations according to changing requirements and aesthetic sensibilities. What may have once been considered important art in a colonial setting, grew increasingly insignificant in later times. This illustrated talk will explore the variety of influences incorporated in Lutyens’s vocabulary of design, the organisation of interior space and its relationship with the gardens, the designs of the floors and windows and how they are echoed in the furniture and chimneypieces. It however concerns itself equally with how the building came to be nationalised post-independence with the removal of visible signs of the British Empire, and incorporation of impressive Indian works of art such as the Mauryan Rampurva bull capital and the Mathura Buddha of the Gupta Period.
Naman P. Ahuja is a curator of Indian art, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Editor of Marg Publications. His studies on terracottas, ivories and small finds have drawn attention to the foundations of Indian iconography and transcultural exchanges at an everyday, quotidian level. Previously, as Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, he authored a comprehensive catalogue of their collections of ancient Indian statuary and archaeological material.
His book, The Making of the Modern Indian Artist-Craftsman: Devi Prasad (Routledge, 2011), provided a case-study of the impact of the Arts and Crafts Movement on India. More recently, The Body in Indian Art and Thought (Ludion, Antwerp, 2013) explores a variety of fundamental approaches to the aesthetics of anthropomorphic representation in India and what are the larger ideas that drive people to make images.