Benode Behari Mukherjee
(1904 - 1980)
Born in Kolkata in 1904, Mukherjee studied Art at Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan where he was a student of Nandalal Bose from 1917 to 1924. He was a teacher, librarian and curator at Kala Bhawana, Santiniketan from 1925 to 1949. Mukherjee ultimately left Santiniketan in 1949 and moved to Delhi. Mukherjee was one among the leading art figures of pre-Independent India playing a crucial role in the evolution of visual art. His importance as an artist lay in his ability to break away from the turn of the century; the Bengal Revivalist mould and create a dynamic modern style, which paved the way for the next generation of artists in the 1940's. Mukherjee led art beyond the dominance of literary subjects and mythology, to a form that gave importance to pictorial elements such as color, line and texture. This, at a time when modern art was considered 'taboo', and Indian tradition was thought to be 'holy' and unchanging. He was honoured by the Government of India with Padma Vibhushan, 1974 and conferred with the honorary doctoral degree of Desikottama by Visva Bharati in 1977. Chitrakar, a collection of his writings won the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award and the Rabindra Puraskar Award in 1980. Satyajit Ray made a documentary on him called ‘The Inner Eye’ in 1972. Mukherjee turned completely blind in 1957 and passed away at the age of 76 in November, 1980.