Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 129. Untitled.

Property from an Artist Family

Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni


Auction Closed

March 18, 06:39 PM GMT


6,000 - 8,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from an Artist Family

Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni

1916 - 1994



12 ¾ x 2 ½ x 1 ⅜ in. (32.5 x 6.5 x 3.5 cm.)

Executed in 1987

Private Collection of Dinkar and Pushpa Kowshik

Gift from the above

Dinkar Kowshik was a renowned Indian painter, author and educator credited for reshaping Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, as its principal in the 1960s & 70s. After finishing school at Dharawad (now Karnataka), Kowshik enrolled in Fergusson College, Pune. His parents passed away early in life; he and his younger brother, Anand lived in Pune in a house provided by his father’s trust. Here he befriended Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni whose parents also were no more. Dinkar invited Kulkarni to stay with them. The sculpture is a gift from Kulkarni to Kowshik and his family and represents a lifelong friendship between these two stalwarts.

Born in Karnataka in 1916, Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni was a pioneering Indian modernist and arts educator. Studying at the Sir J.J. School of Art, Bombay from 1935 to 1940 and trained in traditional aesthetics, Kulkarni was inspired by Ajanta murals, Chola bronzes and Kangra miniatures. He joined Delhi Polytechnic's art department of in 1945 and was an important teacher and founder of spaces which cultivated emerging talent at the time of Independence, most notably the Triveni Kala Sangam in 1948 and the Delhi Silpi Chakra group in 1949. Kulkarni was the first Indian artist to participate in Rockefeller Foundation programming in the US in 1949.

After a few trips to the US and travels throughout Mexico, South America and the USSR, Kulkarni's work constituted many elements of global art forms. In the mid-1960s, the Washington Post reviewed his work:

'His influences come from many sources: Indian sculpture, carving, paintings, Picasso, the decorative arts, but they are slowly being welded into a personal expression whose greatest characteristic is an exuberant vitality... Contemporary Indian art takes a long step forward in the work of Kulkarni... [he is] the most stimulating and provocative new talent to emerge from India so far.'

(K. Singh (ed.), India's Rockefeller Artists: An Indo-US Cultural Saga, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2017, p. 45)


Kulkarni often combined folk aesthetics with a modern, abstract sensibility, his canvas works exploring geometric, animal and human forms. The present lot is a rare example of his sculptural work. Imbued with the grace and elegance of the nayika, this female form encompasses the artist’s interest in cubism with clear influences of Indian classical art. Its angular and thoughtful composition are testament to the unique, worldly focus Kulkarni held throughout his life.