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April 18th, 1997
Museum Commemorates Indian Independence

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will mark India's 50th year of independence with newly dedicated and reinstalled permanent galleries of Indian art, films, music and dance performances, as well as the special exhibition of photography, India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947-1997 (on view from July 6 through August 31, 1997).

William P. Wood Gallery of Indian Art:
The special programs will begin on May 31, 1997, when the Museum dedicates the William P. Wood Gallery of Indian Art (#227), which will house rotating exhibitions of later Indian art (from the 16th through 20th centuries), particularly painting and folk art. An inaugural installation will feature paintings and objects given to the Museum by and in appreciation of Mr. Wood, who served the Museum in many capacities from the 1950s until his death in 1996. Long-time trustee and former president of the Museum, Mr. Wood was also a collector of Indian art and bequeathed a group of Indian paintings to the collections. This celebration of Mr. Wood's life and legacy will be on view from June 1 through November 30, 1997.

The twenty paintings which inaugurate the Wood Gallery highlight the exquisite craftsmanship and diversity of style and subject matter characteristic of India's pictorial traditions. The works, dating from the 16th through 19th centuries, were originally elements of larger manuscripts or loosely bound albums. Illustrated are scenes from India's great religious epics, poetic love literature and historical events, as well as portraits and detailed depictions of court life. The paintings also display the extraordinary variety of the Indian painter's production, including the lively observation of the Mughals, the bold colors and powerful compositions of Rajasthan, the potent abstraction of southern devotional images, and the delicate idealism of paintings from the northern Panjab hills.

Reinstallation of the Galleries of Indian Sculpture:
As a complement to the exhibition India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947-1997, and the opening of the Wood Gallery, the Museum's galleries of Indian sculpture (Galleries 229-231) will be refurbished and partially reinstalled. Beginning July 5, objects on view will include a spectacular 13th-century ivory throne leg from the state of Orissa in eastern India depicting a mythological elephant-lion destroying a demon, and a selection of sculptures and votive shrines from the site of Bodhgaya, where the Buddha gained enlightenment. Included as well will be various works of art from the bequest of the late Dr. Stella Kramrisch, who from 1954 to 1972 served as the Museum's distinguished Curator of Indian Art (and then as Curator Emeritus until her death in 1993), such as an exquisite 8th-century Jain bronze from western India and an elaborate 9th-century door lintel from a Hindu temple in northern India carved with seven dancing mother goddesses. This project, as well as the installation of the Wood Gallery, will be overseen by Darielle Mason, who was named the Museum's Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art in August, 1996.

New Gallery of Himalayan Art:
Beginning July 5, a permanent installation of Nepalese, Tibetan and Sino-Tibetan paintings and sculptures from the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be on view in gallery 232. The Museum's holdings in this area have recently been handsomely augmented through the bequest of Dr. Stella Kramrisch, including a large bronze image of the god Indra from 14th-century Nepal and various exquisite Tibetan Buddhist thangkas (scroll paintings).

Special Exhibition:
India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947-1997 is a major travelling exhibition devoted to photographs of India. Organized by Michael E. Hoffman, Adjunct Curator of the Alfred Stieglitz Center of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, India will feature 250 images by 21 photographers, including Sunil Janah, Raghu Rai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Sebastiao Salgado. The exhibition and its tour through North America, Europe and India are made possible by Ford Motor Company. Additional support was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Air India is the official airline. The accompanying catalogue, published by Aperture, is supported by Eastman Kodak Company.

To continue the celebration, the Museum will host a number of programs throughout July and August.

Film Series:
A series of films by famed Indian director Satyajit Ray will be presented on most Sundays in July and August (see schedule below). Acknowledged as India's greatest filmmaker, Mr. Ray's films are noted for simplicity, subtlety and clarity, as well as psychological insight and evocative symbolism. Through the efforts of the Merchant and Ivory Foundation, Mr. Ray's most important films have recently been restored. Screenings will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Van Pelt Auditorium, and will be free after Museum admission. All films are in Bengali with English subtitles.

On Sunday, July 13, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m., Kartik Seshadri, the foremost disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar and honored partner on his concert tours, will perform on the sitar in the Van Pelt Auditorium. Mr. Seshadri is one of the finest representatives of Indian classical music today. He has performed extensively in India and abroad and is noted as a composer and educator of Indian music as well. The program will include three ragas, and Mr. Seshadri will be accompanied by musicians on tabla and tamboura. Members, senior citizens and students with valid I.D.: $10.00; non-Members: $17.00. Children under 7 are not permitted in the auditorium. Call (215) 235-SHOW for tickets.

Wednesday Night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:
"Namaste India," a special Wednesday Night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will take place from 5:00 to 8:45 on July 30. Two Daughters, a 1962 film directed by Satyajit Ray, will be shown at 7:10 p.m. in the Museum's Van Pelt Auditorium. The Indian Temple on the Museum's second floor will be the site of a performance by Shafaatullah Khan on sitar and tabla with accompanists Triporna Das and Sushmita Roy. The Great Stair Hall will feature Samir, Sanghamitra and Dibyarko Chatterjee performing North Indian music; Unable to Remember Roop Kanwar, a work of contemporary Indian choreography performed by Ananya Chatterjea; and a demonstration of sari wrapping by Kamala S. Bose. Darielle Mason will present the Spotlight Talk "Mythical Beast Triumphant: An Ivory Throne Leg from Eastern India."

Family Program:
Celebrate India!, on Sunday, August 3, will entertain and inform families with performances, puppets (with Suresh Dutta, director of the Calcutta Puppet Theatre), craft activities and sari wrapping. For more information about Celebrate India!, call (215) 684-7594.

Special Performance:
On Indian Independence Day, Friday, August 15, the Museum will present a performance organized by Indrani of traditional dances from throughout India. Indrani is the daughter of Ragini Devi, who was prominent among those who helped to revive classical dance in India in the 1920s and '30s. Through teaching and performances, Indrani has made audiences in India and abroad familiar with the distinct classical schools of Indian dance. Three dancers and accompanying musicians will present a program of dances illustrating three of India's major classical styles: Orissi from the East, Kuchipudi from the South, and Bharata Natyam from the Southeast. This program will be held in the Great Stair Hall from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Members, senior citizens and students with valid I.D.: $10.00; non-Members: $17.00. Call (215) 235-SHOW for tickets.

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