Originally created 08/03/97

India's independence anniversary celebrated in art



NEW YORK (AP) - American tourists can sample a rich variety of India's art this summer and fall without going abroad.

The range includes rare 17th-century illuminated manuscripts loaned by Queen Elizabeth II, a fabled emerald, jewellike miniatures and the work of some of today's best photojournalists.

This largesse has been sparked by the 50th anniversary of India's independence, being celebrated in exhibitions of the subcontinent's art at several museums. Some of the shows are touring.

Here are some suggestions:

- Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947-1997" is a traveling exhibition of around 250 photographs made over the past half-century by 21 photographers.

The photographers are both Indian and non-Indian. The selection of their work includes Raghu Rai's colorful images of contemporary life in India, from opulent temple gardens to the back streets of Calcutta. It also includes scenes shot by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, superlative observer who produced crisp black-and-white prints luminous with the spirit of the country and its people.

The exhibition is at the Philadelphia museum through Aug. 31. Then after a detour to London's Royal Festival Hall, Nov. 28-Jan.18, 1998, it will return to the United States and travel to:

- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, May-June 1998.

- Indianapolis Museum of Art, Sept. 4-Nov. 15, 1998.

- Knoxville, Tenn., Museum of Art, Dec. 18, 1998-Feb. 28, 1999.

- Chicago Cultural Center, Oct. 30-Dec. 30, 1999.

Major funding for the exhibition and tour was provided by Ford Motor Co.

A catalog is available, "India: A Celebration of Independence" (Aperture/Philadelphia Museum, $50 hardcover; $35 softcover, at the museum store).

The Philadelphia Museum also recently opened the William P. Wood Gallery of Indian Art and reinstalled its galleries of Indian sculpture.

- Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

""King of the World: A Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle" is a traveling exhibition of works on loan from Queen Elizabeth II.

On show are 44 paintings and two illuminations from an imperial manuscript of 17th-century India, brilliantly colored images that tell stories of the reign of Emperor Shah-Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal.

The exhibition is at the Sackler gallery through Oct. 13, and will then travel to:

-Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Nov. 20-Feb. 8, 1998.

- Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Feb. 26-May 17, 1998.

- Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, May 31-Aug. 23, 1998.

- Indianapolis Museum of Art, Sept. 6-Nov. 29, 1998.

Also on show at the Sackler Gallery through February 1998 is "The Jewel and the Rose: Art for Shah-Jahan."

The jewel is the 141.13-carat "Taj Mahal" emerald, carved with a floral design. It is displayed along with 23 paintings from a rare manuscript, the "Gulistan" (Rose Garden), written and painted in the 15th and 16th centuries and once owned by ShahJahan.

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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

"God, Hero and Lover: Representations of Krishna in Indian Painting" is made up of around 20 miniatures portraying the deity the museum categorizes as Hindu India's most popular god.

"Almost anyone can find a point of identification with Krishna," curator Joseph M. Dye III says, "because he is such a multifaceted, all-encompassing divinity."

The miniatures, opaque watercolors in radiant colors from the museum's collection, show Krishna in childhood living among lowly cowherds, later flirting with cow-maidens, later still slaying demons and generally acquitting himself as a great warrior.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 4, 1998.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

In addition to the traveling exhibition of the Shah-Jahan manuscript, the museum will present "Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era," from Nov. 20-March 1, 1998.

The museum says this show will consist of 60 carpets, including loans from other collections as well as the Metropolitan's own. It will represent India's tradition of carpet weaving over 200 years, from the late 16th century through the 18th century.