*      Indus valley Civilization         

*      Maurya, Sunga, Kusha, Gupta  Art

*      Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta

*      Mahabalipuram, Tanjavur, Mysore,

*      Mughal and Rajput Art

*      Sikh Art, Maratha Art, 

*      Company School, Kalighat Pats, Progressive Artists Group             

*      New trends in Indian Art

History of Indian Art is as old as the Indian civilization itself and every major period of history has given  India newer modes of expression and newer forms of art. As India was well connected to the outside world through both sea and land routes, the influence of cultures of other lands have always been felt in the art of India. These myriad influences have enriched Indian Art over the years and in the new 21st century, one can see all these influences in the fine arts of India.

The Indus valley civilization that thrived between 2500 and 1700BC was a contemporary of the Mesopotamia civilization and one can see the existence of steatite and limestone statuettes as well as terracotta figures. Most of these show animal figures made in abstract modes with high degree of sophistication.

While for a larger part of history, Western art remained mostly realistic and  Abstraction came only in the late 19th century, the history of Indian art does not show the same. Abstraction of forms was always a part of Indian Art.

Realism came into Indian art in phases, first perhaps in the 3rd Century BC when when Alexander of Macedonia had invaded India and left behind a Greek Kingdom. Later a unique school of art developed in the sub-continent which is today known as the Gandhar School of Art.

Indus Terracotta Sculpture

Indus Terracotta sculpture

Siddharth Gandhar Sculpture

Siddhartha Gandhar sculpture

The Mauryan School of Art was also similar in many aspects to this form of realism. However, Thie Gandhar style was followed only in a part of Indian sub-continent. There were many other forms of art that were prevalent which showed various degrees of abstraction and realism.

Another important period in the history of Indian art was the Gupta Period, when the Ajanta Caves were built. the murals in these caves depict Jataka tales. Similar frescoes can also be seen the Elephanta and Ellora caves. 

The coming of the muslim invaders in India brought in new influences in Indian art           

like the repeatitive floral motifs and spatial dimensions and narratives. Miniature art was also introduced during this time. The major schools of art that emerged during this time were the Mughal, Pahari and Rajasthani Art.

Subject matter of Indian art had also been varied; religious parables, folk stories, mythology, erotica as well as life of common people have all come in various forms.  

The British Era brought India in touch with major European trends of late 18 and 19th centuries. But  one of  the  important

Cave Fresco of Ajanta

Cave Fresco of Ajanta


Kalighat Patachitra

contributions of the British era was the infusing of individualism in art practice. For the first time, Indian artists started getting recognition as individuals and artists now started thinking in terms of their own signature styles.

Parrallel to the Company School of Art, many local art forms were becoming highly stylized like the Kalighat Patachitra art.

Indian artists also was introduced during this time to the oriental art of China, Japan and other countries and this was all to give shape to what is today called Contemporary Indian Art