The artists represented in the CIViC archive are numerous, from Kalighat artists working on the temple steps of Bengal, to artists producing for the burgeoning poster industry of mythological prints in the beginning of the 20th century to the entry of film stars into the neighborhood of icons. The archive is large enough to offer images by lesser known artists in the field of ‘calendar art’ across popular genres like religious sects, educational and baby posters, beautiful women, politicians, films and landscapes.
Usually, the term “artist” implies an individual’s voice in the world, and a distinct way of articulating the same. Making a case for copyright laws within popular culture is a little tougher than that, as the enterprise of popular visual culture relies in borrowing motifs from others. For instance, famous artists are often imitated not only for their artistic style and content, but also their signature styles, as is the case with Chandra Varma and his imitation of the more famous Ravi Verma’s signature style. The resulting cross pollination of motifs seen across the different media of postcards, posters, calendar prints, commercial labels, movie stills etc. throws up issues related to authorship but also produces unexpected idiosyncratic images more in touch with society’s polyphonic voices.
The collection also houses artists heralded for their uniqueness, such as Kalam Patua’s gentle and empathetic view of the city and its people from its fringes, Jangarh Singh Shyam, a gond tribal artist and Francesco Clemente, all celebrations of coexisting ‘Indias’.
The images below offer a selection of the artists whose works are represented in the CIViC archive.
Kindly also look at the section under ‘Archive at a Glance’
Artists in the CIViC Archive
K. P. Sivam