Kala Bhavana

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Kala Bhavana (Institute of Fine Arts) is the fine arts faculty of Visva-Bharati University, in Shantiniketan, India. It is an institution of education and research in visual arts, founded in 1919, it was established by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Kala Bhavana
Visva-Bharati University
Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan.jpg
Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan
LocationSantiniketan, West Bengal, India
Coordinates23°40′53″N 87°40′58″E / 23.6815°N 87.6829°E / 23.6815; 87.6829Coordinates: 23°40′53″N 87°40′58″E / 23.6815°N 87.6829°E / 23.6815; 87.6829
FounderRabindranath Tagore
PrincipalProf. Goutam Kumar Das
WebsiteKala Bhavan


Kala Bhavana was established in 1919.[1][2] Although art historians have not been able to determine its exact date of foundation, it celebrated its centenary in 2019.[3][4] Asit Kumar Haldar was an art teacher at Santiniketan Vidyalaya from 1911 to 1915 and was in charge of Kala Bhavana from 1919 to 1921.[5][better source needed] In 1919, when it first started functioning, it started teaching music and art. By 1933, the two streams were separated into two different schools, Kala Bhavana and Sangit Bhavana[6][non-primary source needed]

Upon its establishment in 1919, Tagore invited noted painter Nandalal Bose, a disciple of Abanindranath Tagore, founder of the Bengal school of art movement, to become first principal of the institution.[7] In the coming years stalwarts like Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij became associated with the college, and in time gave a new direction not just to the institution but also to modern Indian painting.[8] At Santiniketan, the ideas of Rabindranath Tagore on art and teaching continued for a long time as a monumental model. Subsequently, they developed in the art arena of Santiniketan, the three pillars of ideas – Nandalal Bose, Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij.[9] They together raised Santiniketan to a level of unique eminence in the field of modern art in twentieth century India.[10][11]

In 1997, R. Siva Kumar, leading art historian, curated an exhibition, Santiniketan: The Making of a Contextual Modernism, at the National Gallery of Modern Art.[12] The exhibition, brought together about a hundred works each of the four modern Indian artists, namely Nandalal Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Ram Kinker Baij and Benode Behari Mukherjee on the centre stage and put the Santiniketan art movement into focus.[12] R.Siva Kumar argued that the "Santiniketan artists did not believe that to be indigenous one has to be historicist either in theme or in style, and similarly to be modern one has to adopt a particular trans-national formal language or technique.[citation needed] Modernism was to them neither a style nor a form of internationalism. It was critical re-engagement with the foundational aspects of art necessitated by changes in one’s unique historical position".[13]

Subsequently, as principal of Kala Bhavana, Dinkar Kaushik reshaped it for contemporary art practices. He invited sculptor Sarbari Roy Choudhury, Ajit Chakraborty, graphic artist Somnath Hore and painters Sanat Kar and Lalu Prasad Shaw to join Kala Bhavana as teachers.[14] Amongst the many things he did to revolutionize the institution was to hold Nandan Mela.[14] On 1–2 December, Nandan Mela celebrates the birth anniversary of Nandalal Bose. “The students involve in various kinds of activities including art stalls put up by the Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Graphics, Design and Art History Departments. These stalls have artworks made by the students and teachers ranging from calendars to craft items, diaries, stationery, fashion jewelry, paintings, prints, saras (clay plates), and ceramics, wood and metal sculptures for sale at affordable prices.”[15]

College overviewEdit

The college has an art gallery, Nandan, exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals.[16][17] In the 1960s, the Birlas and Goenkas families had built two girls hostels named after them.[18] Kala Bhavana has 17,000 original art works by eminent Indian and Far-Eastern masters, and is now seeking outside support for preserving and displaying these.[18]

Nandalal Bose became the first principal in 1923 and was followed by such luminaries as Benode Behari Mukherjee, Ramkinkar Baij, K. G. Subramanyan, Dinkar Kaushik, R. Siva Kumar, Somnath Hore, Jogen Chowdhury and others.[19][20][21][22] Amongst others who distinguished themselves in the art arena of Santiniketan were Sankho Chaudhuri and Sanat Kar.[23][24]

The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree, as well as certificate degrees.

In popular culture and in historyEdit

Emblem of India

Nandalal Bose was assigned the task of decorating the original copy of the Constitution of India and he drew in several of his students for the work. It included Dinanath Bhargava, Kripal Singh Shekhawat, Jagdish Mittal, Gauri Bhanja, his daughter, and others.[citation needed] The brief was to illustrate 34 inch borders in 300-odd pages with patterns from different historical ages of the subcontinent. The document was adopted on 26 January 1950. Dinanath Bhargava, then 21-years old, was also given the task of adapting the design the national emblem.[25] Beohar Rammanohar Sinha illustrated the preamble and certain other pages.[26][27] R. Siva Kumar said that it was indeed a matter of pride that artists from Kala Bhavana embellished the prestigious document.[25]

In 2011, to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, Rabindra Chitravali was released, the four-volume set covered masters' painting oeuvre consisting of 1,600 paintings, from Rabindra Bhavana (another institution of the university) and Kala Bhavana collection, along with 200 paintings from other institutions across India.[28]

Satyajit Ray, the legendary film maker, studied here in 1940-1941, under Benode Behari Mukherjee, and later made a noted documentary on his teacher, The Inner Eye (1972).[29] He had earlier made a 54-minute black-and-white documentary, Rabindranath Tagore, on the life of the poet on the occasion of his birth centenary. The film won the President's Gold Medal Award, New Delhi, 1961 and the Golden Seal, Locarno, 1961.[30]

Ramkinkar is an incomplete personality study or documentary on sculptor Ramkinkar Baij created by legendary filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak.[31] He started creating the film in 1975. The film was almost complete but it still remained unfinished for the death of Ritwik Ghatak.[32]

Santiniketan has nine original ink brush works of Xu Beihong, one of the pioneers of Chinese modern art, all painted during the artists visit to Santiniketan in 1939-40. He had stayed in Tan Yun-Shan’s old house near Cheena Bhavana. In August 2019, his son, Xufangfang, who had come on a follow up visit, said that he received inspiration from the creative environment at Visva Bharati.[33]

India has a long history of cultural relations with Japan.[34] In 1902, Tenshin Okakura and Rabindranath Tagore met in Kolkata.[34] On returning to Japan, Okakura sent two distinguished artists, Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shunsō to Kolkata, where they met Rabindranath Tagore and Abanindranath Tagore. Rabindranath Tagore went five times to Japan – 1916, 1917, 1924 and 1929 twice.[34] Nampu Katayama visited India in 1916. On an invitation from Tagore, Shokin Katsuta stayed in Santiniketan and worked as art teacher from 1905 to 1907.[34] Kousetsu Nosu came to India in 1918. He met Kampu Arai in Kolkata, and the two together went to Ajanta for copying the frescoes there.[34] In 1932 Nosu again came to India, to paint frescoes in the new Buddhist Vihara at Sarnath. On completing his work at Sarnath, he visited Kala Bhavana at Santiniketan to learn more about frescoes. Kampo Arai was in India from 1916 to 1918 and visited Santiniketan during the period. Akino Fuku was visiting professor at Santiniketan in 1962. Ikuo Hirayama has painted in India under the title Silk Road paintings. Nishida Shun'ei came to India in 1995. Koreshiko Hino visited Santiniketan in 2006.[34]

Notable peopleEdit

This is a list of notable alumni and teachers of Kala Bhavana, listed alphabetically by last name.


  • Asit Kumar Haldar, was art teacher in Santiniketan Vidyalaya from 1911 to 1915 and was incharge of Kala Bhavana from 1919 to 1921.
  • Stella Kramrisch, Austrian art historian, taught at Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan in 1922-24. A skilled dancer she taught “musical drill” to the children of Santiniketan ashrama. She was conferred Desikottama and Padma Bhusan.[35]
  • R. Siva Kumar, who studied history of art at Kala Bhavana, later joined as faculty and became its principal, is a leading art historian and has curated numerous art exhibitions.[36]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The presence of women in the institutionalized space and their interventions: Kala bhavana (1920-1930)" (PDF). Page 177. Shodhganga. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  2. ^ "100 years of Shantiniketan's Kala Bhavana". The New Indian Express, 6 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Rabindranath Tagore's art school Kala Bhavan set to turn 100". Hindustan Times, 11 November 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  4. ^ Ghosh, Bishwanath (21 December 2019). "Kala Bhavana: 100 years of the arts school founded by Tagore". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Asitkumar Halder (1890-1961)". Visva Bharati. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  6. ^ "From Bharmacharyashrama to Visva-Bharati: A Chronicle of Metamorphosis of a Tiny School into an Internationally-Acclaimed Centre of Learning" (PDF). Visva Baharati. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  7. ^ Chaitanya, p. 170
  8. ^ Chaitanya, p. 219
  9. ^ Memoir of an Artist. Amitabh Sengupta, Page 13. Patrige India/ Google. 26 June 2014. ISBN 9781482821260. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  10. ^ Memoir of an artist. Amitabh Sengupta. Patridge Publishing India. 27 June 2014. ISBN 9781482821253. Retrieved 23 August 2019. ISBN 9781482821260
  11. ^ Trends in Modern Indian Art. Sunil Kumar Bhattacharya, Page 8: New Trends. MD Publications Private Limited. 1994. ISBN 9788185880211. Retrieved 23 August 2019. ISBN 8185880212
  12. ^ a b "Finding an expression of its own". frontline.thehindu.com. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  13. ^ http://humanitiesunderground.org/all-the-shared-experiences-of-the-lived-world-ii/
  14. ^ a b "The man who gave Kala Bhavan a new life". The Times of India, 14 February 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Nandan Mela". Santiniketan. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Kala Bhavana starts 100 Years Celebration, Nandan Mela Prep Peaks Up". Kolkata 24 X 7, 29 November 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  17. ^ Ananya Vajpeyi (3 March 2013). "ADVENTURES IN ARCADIA- Experiments with the life of the mind". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Kings to Corporates in Gurudev footsteps – Kala Bhavana seeks funds from Birlas and Goenkas to preserve works of art". The Telegraph, 17 February 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  19. ^ "100 Years of Kala Bhavana". 23 January 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Kala Bhavana Starts 100 Years Celebration, Nandan Mela Prep Picks Up". Kolkata 24 x 7. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  21. ^ "The man who gave Kala Bhavana a new life". The Times of India, 14 February 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Adventures in Arcadia - experiments with the life of the mind". The Telegraph, 3 March 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Sankho Chowdhuri (1916-2006)". Princeps. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Professors Emeritus". Visva Bharati. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Artist who sketched national emblem dies". The Times of India, 26 December 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  26. ^ Sahoo, A.; Pattanaik, T. (January 2015). L. Mohanty (ed.). "Making of the Constitution of India: A Critical Analysis" (PDF). Odisha Review. Government of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, India. LXXI: 7–15. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  27. ^ "10 Important facts about the Indian constitution". Newsable.asianetnews.tv. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Tagore paintings glow on his 150th birth anniversary". Hindustan Times. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  29. ^ "Biography:At Shantiniketan". .satyajitray.org. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  30. ^ "Rabindranath Tagor (1961)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  31. ^ "Ramkinkar - Documentary". BFI Because Films Inspire. Archived from the original on 26 May 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  32. ^ Ghaṭaka, R̥tvikakumāra (2005). Calaccitra, mānusha ebaṃ āro kichu (1. De'ja saṃskaraṇa. ed.). Kalakātā: De'ja Pābaliśiṃ. p. 359. ISBN 81-295-0397-2.
  33. ^ "Discovering my father, Artist Xu Beihong's experience in Santiniketan, India". ICS Research Blog. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  34. ^ a b c d e f "Touching Souls: Painters who portarayed India". India and Japan Cultural Relations. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  35. ^ "Stella Kramrisch". Visva Bharati. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Contemporary Indian Art". Indo-American Arts Council. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  37. ^ "Jayasri Burman". Aicon Gallery. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  38. ^ "Jogen Chowdhury". IndiaArt. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  39. ^ Somnath Hore, Life and Art, Arun Ghose, Gallerie 88, 2007
  40. ^ "Paintings". Kailash Chandra Mehr. Indian Heritage. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  41. ^ "A Ramachandran". Vadehra Art Gallery. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  42. ^ "Krishna Reddy and Atelier 17: A "New Form" Takes Shape". The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  43. ^ "K.G.Subramanyan". Vadhera Art Gallery. Retrieved 20 August 2019.

External linksEdit

External video
  Kala Bavana-e Nandan Mela (commentary in Bengali)
  Kala Bhavan MFA Final Year Display 2018 – Part I