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 Night Sky
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 Bodies  Amrita beside Mother's Portrait
New Acquisitions: 2016

Night Sky

For nearly four decades, Vivan Sundaram (born 1943, India) has been researching and creating works based on the life of his maternal aunt Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941). Re-Take of Amrita is a series of photomontages centered on Amrita, revered as one of the most important modern Indian painters, and her cosmopolitan environments. Amrita lived and worked in Hungary, France, Italy, and India before her sudden death at the age of twenty-eight.

Fascinated by the new technology of photography, Amrita’s father, Umrao Sher-Gil (1870–1954), began taking portraits of himself and his family in the early 1900s. Delving into this rich archive of photographs and letters, Sundaram employs digital technology to reassemble a visual narrative of principal figures and places of this family history. In this selection of images, he juxtaposes multiple portraits of Umrao, Amrita, and her mother, Marie-Antoinette, taken in Budapest, Paris, and Shimla. For Sundaram, photography becomes a means to collaborate with his grandfather across time and death, and to reconstruct the relationships that shaped Amrita’s short life.


from the series Re-Take of Amrita
Vivan Sundaram (b. 1943)
India, 2001
Archival digital pigment print
Purchase—funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
S2016.23




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