Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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The Hungarian Great Plain
  • Vivan Sundaram
    born 1946
    born: New Delhi, India ; active: India
  • The Hungarian Great Plain, 2001
  • Re-Take of Amrita
  • Where object was made: India
  • digital photograph, black-and-white inkjet print
  • Image Dimensions Height/Width: 38.1 x 48.6 cm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 15 x 19 1/8 in
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 41.8 x 60.1 cm
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 16 7/16 x 23 11/16 in
    Mat Dimensions: 20 x 25 in
  • Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2012.0155
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Temporal Turn: Art and Speculation in Contemporary Asia", 11-Nov-2016
The photomontages in Vivan Sundaram’s Re-Take of Amrita series are digitally manipulated composites of haunting and impossible spatial and temporal encounters between key members of the artist’s family. Sundaram’s mother, Indira (1914–1975), was the youngest daughter of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil (1870–1954)—son of a Punjabi chieftain and an accomplished amateur photographer—and Marie Antoinette Gottesman (1882–1948)—Umrao’s Hungarian second wife. Sundaram’s maternal aunt and Indira’s older sister, Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941), made a career working between Europe and India creating paintings that would distinguish her as one of the most important modern Indian artists of the 20th century.
The photograph Lovers pairs Amrita, seated in her flat at Rue de Bassano in Paris, with a self-portrait of her partially clothed father, Umrao, from 1930. Hanging on the wall is a painting of Boris Taslitzky (1911–2005), Parisian artist, eventual Communist activist, and Amrita’s lover. The Hungarian Great Plain transposes a coy Amrita lounging on a bale of hay as her smartly attired family parades in the background. Sisters contrasts two siblings seated face to face by pairing a photograph of Amrita taken in 1936 with one of her sister from the 1940s, shattering the spatial-temporal plain through their intense, piercing gaze.