Sunday, 31 January 2010

India Through The Lenses Of Alain Daniélou & Raymond Burnier

A selection of photographs by Raymond Burnier, renowned photographer from Switzerland and Alain Daniélou, Indologist, musician, painter and art historian from France. (1936-54)

India Through The Lenses Of Alain Daniélou And Raymond Burnier is an initiative of the Alain Daniélou India Committee in collaboration with the India International Centre (IIC)m ProHelvetia (New Delhi) the Alain Daniélou Centre (Zagarolo,Italy). Curated by Samuel Berthet and Anne Tual.  

Date: 21 to 28January 2010
Venue: India International Centre, New Delhi

A selection of photographs by Raymond Burnier, renowned photographer from Switzerland and Alain Daniélou, Indologist, musician, painter and art historian from France. Burnier and Daniélou lived in Varanasi for almost twenty years (1936-54) and documented temple sculpture and recorded Indian music. The photographs on view reveal life in India from the middle of 1930s to the end of the 1950s
Raymond Burnier and Alain Daniélou's remarkable work of creating an artistic inventory of the motives and sculptures found on mediaeval temples, remains today an invaluable heritage for the aesthetic and semantic apprehension of the civilization of the subcontinent. It has laid a milestone with regards to anterior and posterior photograph collections dedicated to India. It conjugates a scientific approach, either by the artists' collaboration with art historians like Stella Kramrisch and Alice Boner, or by Alain Daniélou's personal production. It was used to accompany the prolific and pioneering series of world music realized under the banner of the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation, as well as for numerous publications on Indian culture, thought and arts under the aegis of Unesco. 

Whether it was music or sculpture Alain Daniélou’s constant concern was with valuing the artists behind the work of art we admire hence their originality. Moreover, as he says in his texts, he places himself in a relationship of singularity and “momentariness” as a lever of universalism and timelessness.
Some of these photographs made up what was the first photograph exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1949, an exhibition that was held in India in 1948, in Calcutta, and later in France in 1950. Before settling in Benares, the two artists’ first anchorage is Santiniketan. They are special guests of Rabindranath Tagore. From 1932 to 1937, they shared the life of the poet’s asram during long stays. In Benares, Daniélou carried out a documentation of Indian music and dance. He became a recognized musicologist and with Omkarnath Thakur he founded the first musicology department of the Benares Hindu University. Their house Rewa Kothi was transformed into a salon de musique and a recording studio that saw artists like Ravi Shankar, Alla Akbar, Ragunath Prasanna, Hiran Lal and Shyam Lal, Swami Parvatikar etc.

Photos by Raymond Burnier were exhibited in Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne in 1982 and where included in the retrospective on India the next year along with photos by Cartier Bresson or Ella Maillard. The photo displayed in this catalogue and this exhibition are a unique selection made from the original collection by the Alain Daniélou India Committee on the occasion of the first international seminar dedicated to his work and legacy in 2008 held in Benares and in Delhi.

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