December 15, 2016–June 18, 2017
The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 251, South Asian Exhibitions Gallery, Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries, 3rd Floor
Press Viewing: Tuesday, December 13, 10 am–noon
The first retrospective exhibition devoted to the Indian artist Y. G. Srimati (1926–2007) will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning December 15. Featuring some 25 meticulously executed watercolor paintings, augmented by musical instruments, archival photographs, and performance recordings, An Artist of Her Time: Y. G. Srimati and the Indian Style will demonstrate Srimati’s consistent commitment to her vision of an Indian style. Raised in the heated climate of the independence movement—as a teenager, she performed devotional songs at prayer meetings for Mahatma Gandhi—Srimati explored themes from Indian religious epic literature and rural culture, asserting traditional subject matter as part of a conscious expression of nationalist sentiments. Drawn from The Met and private collections, the exhibition will focus principally on the artist’s first two decades—the 1940s and 1950s—when her repertoire was defined and her style matured. The artist’s key works from the 1980s and 1990s, when she resided in New York, will also be on view.
The exhibition is made possible by The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund.
“Experiencing the political struggle leading up to the transition to an independent India had a lasting impact on Srimati’s work,” said John Guy, The Met’s Florence and Herbert Irving Curator for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia in the Department of Asian Art. “She remained committed to painting as a highly personal expression of her fundamental Indian values.”
Born in Mysore into a cultured Mandayam Brahmin Tamil family and educated in Madras (present-day Chennai, in South India), Srimati, at a young age, received classical training in the four traditional South Indian arts—voice, music, dance, and painting. She became a highly accomplished vocalist and performer of classical Indian music and kept a lifelong friendship with the preeminent Carnatic vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi. She also toured in India and the United States, and in the United Kingdom with the influential classical Indian dancer Ram Gopal.