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Jaya Appasamy

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Jaya Appasamy (1918 – 1984) was an artist and art critic of modern Indian art.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Jaya Appasamy was born in Madras in 1918 and came from a family known for its public service. Her eldest brother Bhaskar Apppasmy was a journalist who wrote for The Hindu and another brother was a Professor of English at the University College, Madras. Her early training in fine arts was in Santiniketan where being associated with teachers such as Nandalal Bose and Binodebihari Mukherjee went a long way in sparking her interest in the critical analysis of art. After this on a government scholarship she travelled to China to study the art and culture of the country. In 1952 she joined the Oberlin College in the United States of America for a master's degree and this was to further sharpen her interest in critical writing on art.

On her return to India she joined as a lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts in the Delhi University.[2] While in Delhi she became a founding member of the Delhi Shilpi Chakra.[3][4]

Appasamy also worked as an art critic, writing for the Hindustan Times and then went on to work as the Editor of contemporary art publications at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi from the year 1964 onwards. In the year 1977 she went back as a visiting Professor to her alma mater Kala Bhawan, Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan.

A painter who worked initially in the mediums of watercolours and tempera Jaya eventually took to oil painting. This change in medium provided her with a larger format and consequently greater freedom. Initially her works figured young girls before she eventually focussed on lyrical landscapes that convey a sense of breadth and quietude.

Her immense contribution to the field of art history and criticism is one of her immensely valuable legacies. She wrote on contemporary artists, folk traditions of the country among other subjects.[5][6]


An avid collector she was interested in all kinds of art and craft, in the process building up a collection of pata paintings, Kalighat and Company period drawings, small bronzes, brass vessels etc. She bequeathed this collection to the Rasaja Foundation which was founded by her. Later, the Foundation gave away its collection of 1273 works to the National Gallery of Modern Art.[7] The foundation was meant as a forum that would house modest collections of small collector’s whose works even though not masterpieces in the traditional sense were deserving of attention for their aesthetic merit.[8] The first exhibition of the Foundation ‘Manjusha’ was curated by her but unfortunately opened after her demise.[9] Today the representative of the Foundation is the noted art collector and philanthropist, Kiran Nadar.[10]

Scholarships, grants and memberships[edit]

  • Government Scholarship to study the Art and Culture of China
  • Research Fellowship from the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.[11]
  • Travel grant from Oberlin College, USA
  • Fellow of the Indian Council of Historical Research 1978-79
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship [12]

Selected Publications Authored by Jaya Appasamy[edit]

  • Appasamy, J., 1980. Tanjavur Painting of the Maratha Period[13]
  • Appasamy, J., 1970. An introduction to modern Indian sculpture. Indian Council for Cultural Relations.[14]
  • Appasamy, Jaya, and S. A. Krishna. 25 Years of Indian Art: Paintings, Sculpture & Graphics in the Post Independence Era.[15]
  • Appasamy, Jaya, 1985. The Critical Vision: Selected Writings. Lalit Kala Akademi [16]
  • Appasamy, Jaya, Indian Paintings on Glass. Indian Council for Cultural Relations[17]

See also[edit]

  • B. C. Sanyal
  • D. P. Roy Choudhury
  • Manishi Dey
  • Thanjavur painting


  1. "Publications by Jaya Appasamy on WorldCat". World Cat.
  2. "Department of Fine Arts - University of Delhi". www.du.ac.in. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  3. "Forbes India Magazine - Print". www.forbesindia.com. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  4. "Bhabesh Chandra Sanyal - Modern Art-India". www.the-south-asian.com. Retrieved 2017-04-14.
  5. "Jaya Appasamy". Lalit Kala Contemporary. 34: 11–18. January 1987.
  6. "Essays by Jaya Appasamy". www.criticalcollective.in. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  7. "National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi". www.ngmaindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  8. "Feminist concerns". thestatesman.com. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  9. Lalit Kala Contemporary 34, Lalit Kala Akademi, January 1987, New Delhi, pp. 11-18.
  10. admin (2015-09-16). "Kiran Nadar". HCL. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  11. "Indian Institute of Advanced Study| Shimla | India". iias.ac.in. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  12. "Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund". www.jnmf.in. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  13. Appasamy, Jaya (1980-01-01). Tanjavur Painting of the Maratha Period. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 9788170171270. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. Appasamy, Jaya (1970-01-01). An introduction to modern Indian sculpture. Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  15. Jaya, Appsamy; Krishna, S.-A.- (1972-01-01). 25 Years of Indian Art: Painting, Sculpture & Graphics in the Post-independence Era. Lalit Kala Akademi. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  16. "The Critical Vision: Selected Writings R.K. BHATNAGAR, Amit MUKHOPADHYAY | Asia Art Archive". www.aaa.org.hk. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  17. "Indian Paintings on Glass by Jaya Appasamy". Retrieved 2017-04-14.

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