Tagore’s Work and the Bengal School of Art


An exhibition of Tagore is present right now in Manhattanville’s Arthur Berger Art Gallery and will be accessible to the public until April 8. Students and visitors will have the opportunity of seeing Tagore’s writing and the art of the Bengal School.

Tagore’s writings show a deep reflection on the human condition, a quote from him present in the exhibition says “I love my God because he gives me the freedom to deny him.” The art pieces the hang on the walls of the gallery show a very interesting combination of European art with traditional cultural Indian elements.

Three collectors, Dr. Nandita Rey, Dr. Kalyan Ghosh and Dr. Sudeep Kundu kindly loaned their pieces of writing of Tagore and paintings of the Bengal School of Art to our Berger Art Gallery.

In the case of Rey’s collection, her grandmother knew Tagore and once had a visit from him. Rey’s grandmother was married to a government officer. At that time India was under British rule, the flag was put down when he stayed with them, said Professor Mukerji, Director of the Berger Art Gallery.

Rabidranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a humanist, universalist, internationalist and strident nationalist who reshaped Bengali literature and music. Tagore was the first non-western writer to win a Nobel Prize. His legacy goes beyond books and includes art pieces. Tagore started to paint at sixty making some 2,500 paintings. Without a doubt Tagore was one of those great minds that are born on earth once every 100 years.

Surprisingly you would assume that winning a Nobel Prize would be enough to make any human feel accomplished. Not Tagore, with the money from the prize and invested it into the college he had founded in India. In this place of higher learning called Santiniketa.

Another very interesting aspect of the exhibition is that Tagore’s biography has been placed on the walls of the gallery along with images of Tagore with his contemporaries, which include Gandhi and Einstein. The extent of Tagore’s legacy is a path to defending one’s values and principles through art.