The Art Institute of Chicago (ARTIC), one of the largest museums in America where Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda had delivered his historic address in 1896, is developing a major exhibition on the royal arts of Jaipur, planned to open in 2013.
"We are beginning a monumental exhibition on the royal art from Jaipur in Chicago in the year 2013. We will be collaborating with the National Museum in Delhi and Jaipur's royal family," President and Director, ARTIC, James Cuno told PTI during his recent visit here.
In August 2010, Princess Diya Kumari and Maharani Padmini Devi of Jaipur visited ARTIC to see the site of the future exhibition and signed an official letter of intent, informs Cuno.
The exhibit comprising paintings, textiles, jewellery, sculpture, photographs, costumes and other relics of the Jaipur royalty sourced from various places will be curated by Madhuvanti Ghose, who would also be planning selective events to introduce Jaipur to the public in the Western country.
One of the highlights of the upcoming exhibition would be presentation of all the 36 paintings of the Jaipur Rangmala. Presently ARTIC displays nine paintings at one time over four rotations in a year.
"Beginning from 1960s and 1970s, in the last 50 years, we have dedicated a lot of energy to Indian art. Along with a a long fascination with visual culture of India we also recognize the vitality of the present art and its contemporary artists. Indian art today is full of explosive energy. It is looking at issues grabbing on to the world as well as looking back at its predecessors. It is also attracting wide global attention," says Cuno.
The Art institute houses a large holding of Asian Art including a collection of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic art.
Beginning on September 11, 2010 the institute had commissioned "Public Notice 3" by Jitish Kallat, the first major presentation of a contemporary Indian artist. The exhibit connected Swami Vivekananda's pleas for religious tolerance during his 1893 address and the attack on the World Trade Centre on the same day 108 years later.
"Kallat used LED lights to display the entire text of the Swami's speech on the institute's grand staircase. It has become so popular that we have extended the exhibit till September 11, 2011," says Cuno.
Cuno who is visiting India for the second time and had travelled to Agra, Varanasi and Mumbai had also addressed a session at the India Art Summit 2011 in January here.
"Under a government programme, Chicago and India are sister cities collaborating on art, business, education and others. Cosmopolitan Chicago city is also an immigrant city with representation of all cultures and people of the world.
We want to present the success of India to our constituents," points out Cuno.
The director says he intends to bring in artists from Chicago to India while facilitating artists from India to showcase at ARTIC.
In 2010, the institute had hosted Ramu Ramdev a master miniature artist from Jaipur as an artist in residence.
During his one-week stay, Ramdev had worked in the institute's galleries, conducted workshops on the history of miniature paintings from Jaipur.
The ARTIC receives nearly 1.9 million visitors each year who get to see a diverse collection of nearly 300,000 works of art held in 11 curatorial departments. It added a modern wing in 2009 designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano.
Meanwhile, for the 2013 exhibition, the Museum would source centuries-old royal art works from the collections at Delhi's National Museum, London's Victoria Albert Museum and the Palace Museum and Albert Museums of Jaipur.
Putting together the mammoth exhibition is according to Cuno full of challenges.
"We plan to host the exhibition in such a way that it looks at the royal family of Jaipur as a patron of art as well as Jaipur as an art producing centre. Our primary challenge remains identifying and choosing a sufficient number of works which will do justice to the idea," says the director.