2021 | Book Discussion | KB GOEL: Critical Writings on Art 1957–1998

Book Discussion

K.B. Goel: Critical Writings on Art 1957–1998

Geeta Kapur | Shruti Parthasarathy Chaitanya Sambrani | Devika Singh | Rahaab Allana

31 July, 2021

K.B. Goel: Critical Writings on Art 1957–1998

Edited and introduced by Shruti Parthasarathy

Foreword by Geeta Kapur

Published by SSAF–Tulika Books


The history of Indian modern art, though over a century old, has begun to receive critical attention in worldwide scholarship only in the last two or so decades. And if it has been dominant artists, movements and regions constituting its ‘canon’ that have been prioritized, there are, in more recent times, explorations into Indian modernism’s divergent and lesser known strains. An almost entirely neglected aspect of this history has been of art criticism that grew in parallel with the art. Drawing from the same wellspring of innovation and hope that the struggle for independence triggered in the nation’s art, art criticism as it developed over the next fifty years contributed significantly to our present-day understanding of modernism.

One among this formative generation of art critics was the Delhi-based K.B. Goel (1930–2018), active from the 1950s to the 1990s. In this period, he observed and commented on emergent trajectories of Indian art and its linkages with contemporary global art. Active mainly as a newspaper reviewer, he also wrote lengthy reflective assessments that stand out for an interpretative and often theory-based approach. While writing on some of the most definitive artists, movements and styles of twentieth-century Indian art, Goel bears the distinction of transitioning from his modernist inclinations to theorize on early postmodern developments in Indian art, as for example installation art. This annotated volume brings together a selection of Goel’s writings spanning close to half a century of critical reflections.


The volume has a foreword by the art critic Geeta Kapur and an introduction by Shruti Parthasarathy, who sets forth the interpretive categories and ongoing polemics within Indian art. It seeks to add to the ongoing project of recovering Indian modernism’s significant voices, including especially critics who have contributed to its discourse.

On K.B Goel:

The Sparkling Complexity of a Maverick’s Oeuvre

Malavika Madgulkar


In 2020, the co-publishing initiative of Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation and Tulika Books published an annotated collection of the major writings of Delhi-based art critic K.B Goel. Although K.B Goel: Critical Writings On Art 1957–1998 has been in circulation for over a year, the pandemic had …

Geeta Kapur is a Delhi-based critic and curator. Her books include Contemporary Indian Artists (1978), When Was Modernism: Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India (2000), Critic’s Compass: Navigating Practice (forthcoming). One of the founder-editors of Journal of Arts & Ideas, she was an advisory board member of Third Text and Marg. She is series editor, Art Documents (SSAF–Tulika Books). Her curatorial work includes exhibitions of Indian art in Delhi, Johannesburg, London, Bombay, Berlin.


Shruti Parthasarathy is a writer, art historian and editor. Her research interests include the emergence of multiple, contested twentieth century modernities and modernisms, especially in the South Asian region. She is also strongly committed to literary translation as a practice.


Chaitanya Sambrani is an art historian and curator specialising in modern and contemporary Asian art. He teaches at the School of Art and Design of the Australian National University, Canberra, where he is also Convenor of Higher Degrees by Research (MPhil and PhD). His recent work includes the book At Home in the World: The Art and Life of Gulammohammed Sheikh and the exhibition ‘Savanhdary Vongpoothorn: All that Arises’ (both 2019).


Devika Singh is Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. Her writing has appeared widely in exhibition catalogues, magazines and journals. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and was Smuts Research Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge and a fellow at the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art, Paris. Her exhibitions include ‘Planetary Planning’ (Dhaka Art Summit, 2018), ‘Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan’ (Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 2019-20) and ‘Gedney in India’ (CSMVS, Mumbai, 2017; Duke University, 2018).


Rahaab Allana is Curator, Alkazi Foundation for the Arts; Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (London) and was previously Honorary Research Associate at University College, London. He is on the board of the Trans-Asia Photography (TAP) Review; Founding Editor of PIX; Founder of the ASAP/art app; and has recently guest-edited Aperture Magazine’s 2021 summer issue on Delhi.

To order the book online:

India and South Asia: Tulika Books at tulikabooks.in: https://tulikabooks.in/catalog/product/view/id/21793/s/k-b-goel-tulika/

Rest of the world: Columbia University Press at cup.columbia.edu: https://cup.columbia.edu/book/k-b-goel/9788193732991