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The term modernity is prescribed as the cultural condition in which the absolute necessity of innovation becomes the most important aspect for work and thought. Modernity appeared first in Europe in the 16th century and became dominant in the mid-19th century, with enormous consequences for colonized non-European countries and for residual cultural formations within Europe. Modernity is more than merely the state of being modern or the opposition between old and new.

Modernist art has a definitive closeness to the essential spirit of modernity. In its avant-garde forms, it also insisted on the necessity of art's autonomy, its pure experimentality. It is also arguable, however, that the various realist tendencies in art since the late 18th century, that inspired the first breath of modern art.

Modernity in the Indian art gamut begins with the Bengal School where a very precise attempt to do away with colonial art can be witnessed. The first usage of the term modernity in the art is however the exhibition of 1949 of the Bombay Progressive Artist’s Group where the interaction with modernity in art in the Western world is seen as an important bridge to embark modern art once again.

Further Reading

Museum of Modern Art, Collection Essay (Oxford University Press), The Arts Trust, Understanding artistic influences and inspirations of the progressives