A miniature painting illustrating a scene from the
A miniature painting illustrating a scene from the "Gita Govinda". Credit: Reproduction Cleveland Museum of Art.

Em encyclopedia format, the platform in English brings together thousands of articles on artists, movements, disciplines, techniques and other topics in Indian artistic history. The initiative comes from a team of 20 researchers from the Bangalor Museum of Art and Photography. “Before that, people got information about Indian art from Western institutions or the market or from very specialized academics who write books that most people can't understand,” Nathan Gaskell (who serves as director of the institution's educational arm, MAP Academy ) told the New York Times. Gaskell points out they focused not just on factual accuracy but also on language so it wasn't exclusionary but rather clear and concise.

According to the researcher, another stimulus to start the project was the lack of public visiting museums and the lack of general interest in the discipline of art history in India. “Even at the undergraduate level, there are almost no courses,” Gaskell told Hyperallergic, adding that despite some 1.600 art schools in the country, few offer art history. The team led by Gaskell has written each of the encyclopedia's roughly 2.000 entries over the past three years, after which their work has been peer-reviewed by a panel of academics. Most of the platform's content currently focuses on art from India, but the feature will expand to include "broader stories from South Asia," he said.

There is also a concern with the connection between art history – according to Western molds – and colonization. Gaskell told CNN that the research team hoped to correct the various biases that exist in historical artistic literature; which would have affected both how the entries are written and what was included in the first place. “The biases of Western institutions are that they only looked at certain things and neglected a lot of regional artwork,” said the author of the book. Photography in India: A Visual History From the 1850s to the Present. “By including regional things we are immediately starting to address this.”

To access the platform click here.

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