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New Clouds
New Clouds, 1937
Nandalal Bose, Indian
Tempera on paper
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, 4804

About Nandalal Bose

A gifted and lyrical draftsman, Bose was a highly creative and intellectual artist and teacher whose work never remained static. Throughout his long career he explored a variety of styles and diverse mediums that captured his poetic—almost religious—vision of nature.

Nandalal Bose was born in Bihar, India, in 1882. At the beginning of his career in 1905, he was one of many artists and visionaries who sought to revive the spirituality and cultural authenticity of Indian art after fifty years of colonial rule and westernization. In 1919, Bose became the first director of the art school at Visva-Bharati, the new university founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in rural Bengal. Here, students learned both indigenous and modern international subjects in a traditional Indian teaching environment that was a radical departure from British-style education.

For the following three decades, Bose began to experiment with a variety of Indian, Japanese, and Chinese techniques. His work consisted of scenes of nature and tribal and village life, as well as devotional subjects. In the 1930s he became closely linked with Mahatma Gandhi, who saw in Nandalal’s work a respect for the common man and the richness of India’s traditions that reflected Gandhi’s own ideals. Nandalal created the settings and artwork for some of Gandhi’s most important political events, and created iconic images of the man himself. Such was Bose’s stature that following independence in 1947, Nandalal was commissioned to illustrate the new Indian constitution.