Amrita Shergil

Sunayani Devi

Though traditionally women had been associated with folk art forms like Batik, Bandhni, Warli art and Gond paintings, and many in recent times likeSonbai (in Madhubani paintings) and Ganga Devi (in Batik Art) have acquired international fame, in the field of Fine Arts, women had been very few and  it is only after 1960s, that women started appearing in large numbers.

Perhaps the first well-known woman artist of the twentieth century was Sunayanai Devi, who was a member of the Tagore family. She had exhibited her works along side the more illustrious members of her family like Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath Tagore. She had also written on art of her times  and helped many young women to take up the practice of art. Unfortunately very few of these women disciples had dedicated their entire lives to art.


Anjolie Ela Menon

Anjolie Ela Menon

However the most intriguing  woman artist coming from the Indian subcontinent was Amrita Shergil. Known as much for her maverick lifestyle, Amrita Shergil had established herself as one of the foremost avant-garde of her time. She along with Jamini Roy and Ramkinker Baij were the main pillars of post- Bengal School modern art.

In the 1960s, women started entering the art field in larger numbers. This is also the time when many women had taken up writing on art like Devyani Krishna, Kekoo Gandhi, Pilloo Pochkanwala,and others. Artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, Amina Kar, Arpita Singh and Nilima Sheikh had achieved international fame thereby encouraging more women to take up art as a profession.

Today, almost half the students in most Indian art schools   are women. Besides women are also entering the art field from various other streams. Majority of curators, writers, gallery owners in India are today women.

Important women artists of present day India include Mrinalini Mukherjee, Anupam Sud, Dayanita Singh, Arpana Caur, Jayashree Chakraborti, Anju Dodiya, Gogi Saroj Pal, Navtoj Altaf,  Shakila and Sheba Chahi,