Professor Michael W. Meister, 308 Jaffe History of Art Building
Course meets: T-Th 10:30-12, Jaffe 113
Teaching Assistant: John Henry Rice

Course Description: This course is a survey of sculpture, painting and architecture in the Indian sub-continent from 2300 B.C., touching on the present. It attempts to explore the role of tradition in the broader history of art in India, but not to see India as ‘traditional’ or unchanging. The Indian sub-continent is the source for multi-cultural civilizations that have lasted and evolved for several thousand years. Its art is as rich and complex as that of Europe, and as diverse. This course attempts to introduce the full range of artistic production in India in relation to the multiple strands that have made the cultural fabric of the sub-continent so rich and long lasting.

Issues: Two text books and the image-study pages on-line provide a substantial outline of the material covered. My role as teacher is to think through the material with you. The issue I wish to think about this year is the continuing ‘hybridity’ of South Asia in all periods (try looking the word up).

Sections: Sections will meet every second Tuesday during class hours. Participation in sections and visits to museums are essential.

For the first section, as a special treat, the following has been put on reserve in van Pelt library: Francesco Clemente : Three Worlds, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1990.

(If this catalogue interests you, there is still a stack of them on sale in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s gift store [piled on the floor in front of the cash register] for the bargain price of $9.95.)

Written Assignments: There will be short written assignments for the sections throughout the course.

Required Books: (Available from the Penn Book Center on 34th St.)
Craven, Roy. A Concise History of Indian Art. Thames and Hudson. 1976, reprint 1998.
Dehejia, Vidya. Indian Art. Phaidon Press, 1997.
Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Princeton University Press. 1946, reprint.

For General Reference: Other significant texts that provide other or earlier perspectives are:
Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. History of Indian and Indonesian Art. 1927.
Ghosh, Pika and M. W. Meister. Cooking for the Gods. 1995.
Harle, James C. The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent. 1986, reprint.
Huntington, Susan. The Art of Ancient India. 1985.
Rowland, Benjamin. The Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. 1953.
Thapar, Romila. A History of India, part 1. Penquin. 1966, reprint.
Zimmer, Heinrich. The Art of Indian Asia. 1955.

Additional readings will be assigned during the semester. Assigned reading, as much as possible, will be placed on reserve in the Fischer Fine Arts Library.

Course requirements: Participation in sections; short written exercises for sections; one hour exam; one short research paper (6-8 pp.) and an expanded final paper.

The Image review pages for this course on the Web provide a wide range of images for course study ( You may use a link from my Homepage ( mmeister.html) to review lectures and images used in a previous year:

Outline of Possible Lecture Topics (these are always subject to change from year to year)
Sept. Categories of India's Art History/Changing Views of Indian
Art as Art or Craft/Folk Art and Indian Traditions
Geography and Historic Outline/India's Ancient Horizon,
the Indus Valley
Buddhist Imperial Art Under the Mauryas
Buddhist Populism: Shunga Art
Architecture as Cosmogram from Sanchi to Borobudur

Oct. Cave architecture and Humanism under the Andhras
Buddhist Narrative Sculpture
Invaders: the Shakas and Kushanas
Icons and Symbols: Origin of the Image of Buddha
Gandhara's 'Alien' Art and India's Syncretism
'Classic' Gupta Art: the Evolution of Buddhist
Hindu Renaissance and the Beginnings of Temple
Painting and the Sweet-Smelling Halls of the
Vakatakas: Ajanta

Nov. The Spread of Buddhism and Painting to Central Asia
Hindu Efflorescence: Elephanta and Ellora
Architecture as Symbol: the Hindu Temple, North
and South/India's 'Medieval' Sculpture
Eroticism and Tantra
India in Greater India: Lineage to Empire/the
Coming of Islam as a Cultural Interface
Painting and Architecture in the Sultanate Period

Dec. Indian Painting and the Patronage of the Early
Mughals/Mughal Buildings
Miniature Paintings in the Hindu Courts: 17th-18th
Centuries/Hill Painting and John Company