Caught in the Wheels of Commerce? The Commercialization of Madhubani painting in India

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This chapter examines the implications of the globalization and commodification of the art trade in contemporary India. Market forces and globalization appear to have a significant impact on the artistic production in the visual arts in India, and it is revealing how traditional art schools such as Madhubani painting are being transformed by India’s inclusion in the global art market. For instance, the India Art Fair (Delhi) and the Kochi Biennale in Kerala now offer an international platform for the marketing of old and new art forms, and as a result, these works are increasingly sought after and acquired by both Indian and Western consumers. In addition, the digital revolution has paved the way for novel ways of marketing art. Artists are adapting to these new realities, for instance, by forming collectives, which allows them to better negotiate with dealers and other intermediaries. Based on fieldwork undertaken in the two artist villages - Ranti and Jitwarpur - in the state of Bihar, we discuss the strategies pursued by rural artists practicing Madhubani art in order to benefit from the increased demand for their work. In doing so, this chapter takes stock of the processes of commodification of traditional art, and ascertain how widespread commercialization may be altering the function and even meaning of indigenous art.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreative Industries in India
EditorsAbdul Shaban, Filip Vermeylen, Christian Handke
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781003129370
ISBN (Print)9780367654245, 9780367615031
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2022

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