Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai
Sir J. J. School of Art was founded in March 1857 with the generous donation offered by Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy, the first Baronet.
Sir J.J. School of Art is one of the pioneering institutes of fine art education in India, since its establishment in 1878 in the current Campus, with a generous donation of Jamshetji Jijibhoy, under the British administration. The School today stands in the heritage building with departments of drawing and painting, sculpture and modeling, mural, portraiture, printmaking, arts, and crafts including ceramics, interior decoration, metalwork and textiles; and teachers training with art teachers’ diploma, Art Masters and Diploma in Painting Education. The college has undergraduate and postgraduate programs with BFA and MFA degrees conferred to the students.
Sir J.J. School of Art began in 1857 with elementary drawing and design classes at Elphinstone institute. With the initial aim of imparting European academic art knowledge in the sub-continent, the college developed with the establishment of art and craft departments with a rich diversity of culture in India as the resource point. Later in 1865, with the arrival of Mr. Lockwood Kipling, Mr. Higgins, and Mr. Griffiths, a school of Architecture, Class for teacher of Art and Craft and School of Decorative design were founded, as students were trained for great activities. This year also saw the school shifting from Elphinstone to its current campus in Bombay Esplanade, as the building began to be structured. While Mr. Kipling initiated crafts development with the arts and crafts movement, Mr. Griffiths encouraged a project of reproduction of Ajanta Murals. This period saw the emergence of artists like Pestonji Bomanji, Pithawala, M.V. Dhurandhar. By 1890, the school of taken over by the Education Department of Government of Bombay, accepting the significance of Indian art and crafts as part of culture rather than just technical education and industry. By 1891, Lord Reay (then Governor of Bombay) brought about the erection of the Applied Art Section known as the Reay Art Workshops, which today encompass the Arts and Crafts Department. Thus, five distinct departments of Drawing and Painting, Sculpture and Modelling, Architecture, Reay Art Workshop for Art and Crafts and Applied Arts were brought under one roof of Sir J.J. School of Art, Bombay.
In 1919, a Mural Painting Class began for the study of Indian style of painting parallel to the Revivalist Movement in Bengal, under Ct. Gladstone Solomon. This later came to be known as Bombay Revival, characteristically known for going beyond the imitation of Indian history but the establishment of its own form in contemporary. A rich new mural style developed with this impetus, two pioneers in this style Shri H.G. Nagarkar and Shri Jagannath Ahiwasi started teaching in this class and students like Shri Ravi Shankar Raval, Raghuvir Chimulkar, R.D. Dhopeshwarkar, Rasiklal Parikh, A.A. Almelkar and so on. The 1930s saw some significant changes in the inspiration of the artists who were exposed to modern works of art from the west and saw impressionistic influences with novel modes in works of artists like P.A. Dhond, N.S. Bendre, G.M. Solegaonkar, V.A. Mali, S.H. Raza and so on. In the decade of ’40s, Charles Gerard inspired students to go beyond the mastery in western academic art and assimilate the Indian art style. The strengthening of independence movement brought about a new awakening about the national sentiments and J.J. saw K.K. Hebbar, Shankar Palsikar, S. Chawda who later went ahead to form the Bombay Group. The dawn of independence in India brought about revolutionary movements in the Bombay arts too with the Progressive Artists Group (PAG), with artists like M.F. Hussain, K.H. Ara, Newton Souza S.H. Raza, H.G. Gade, Sadanand Bakre; not all students of J.J., bringing a wave of altogether different modernism. Sir J.J. School of Art encouraged the technical advancement and knowledge of art history both Indian and western to its students although they would further embrace the contemporary modern notions of art. In 1958, the departments of applied arts and architecture were separated and J.J. started working as a Fine Art School. In 1965 the Directorate of Art was established which governs the development of major art institutes and activities in Maharashtra State to date. The school saw many great thinkers and visionaries associated with, like J.D. Gondhlekar, P.A. Dhond, Shankar Palsikar, Madhav Satawlekar, Baburao Sadwelkar, Sambhaji Kadam, V.R. Amberkar, Vasant Parab, Shantinath Arwade, who not only were artists at par but did substantial work in research and development of art understanding, appreciation and criticism on a whole.
J.J. has given India some of its revolutionary artists making a global impact on art like Vasudev Gaitonde, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, Jeram Patel, Prabhakar Barve, Prabhakar Kolte so on. Even in the contemporary Indian art scenario, J.J. continues to contribute with artists like Suhas Bahulkar, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, and many more. In the changing face of representation in contemporary art around the world, J.J. holds a strong ground giving training in all the technical aspects of fine arts, with exposure to all the mediums. Having strong legacies of European as well as Indian art techniques, the students get the milieu of both in order to generate their own strong methodology of working adapting to the changing times. The school encourages extra-curricular activities and workshops along with the regular educational classes such that the students maintain equilibrium with the contemporary. Today the school has been able to hold its roots in art flourish with the branches reaching far and wide to every aspect of creative expressions.
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