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Leela Mukherjee

A Guileless Modernist

Edited by R. Siva Kumar

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A Guileless Modernist

Leela Mukherjee (1916–2003) was one the first women sculptors of modern India. Born in Karachi, she was educated at Banaras and Santiniketan, where she had the legendary sculptor Ramkinkar Baij as her teacher. Yet, like all women artists of her time, becoming an artist was an arduous project of self-determination. Despite being overshadowed by her husband, Benodebehari Mukherjee, and later by her daughter, Mrinalini Mukherjee, who found greater recognition, she never gave up. Her unwavering spirit and resilience are evident in her work, especially in her wood carvings, which are now finding belated recognition. This is the first study of Leela Mukherjee, and through a clutch of analytical studies and remembrances by scholars and friends, it presents her as a person and an artist of singular determination.

R. Siva Kumar

R. Siva Kumar is an Indian contemporary art historian, art critic and curator and taught art history in Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan. His major research has been in the area of early Indian modernism with special focus on the Santiniketan School. He has authored many important books and articles on modern Indian art and artists, and curated major exhibitions including Santiniketan: The Making of a Contextual Modernism and The Last Harvest: Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore and retrospectives of important Indian artists.