Home    Number 5, 2020

Octavio Paz and Indian Avant-Garde: On an Episode of Reception of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Work in the 1960s

[Oktavio Pas i indiiskii avangard: ob odnom epizode retseptsii rabot Kloda Levi-Strosa v 1960-e gody]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150012350-5

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 04.09.19

Accepted: 24.07.20

About author(s)

Elizaveta Kuzina | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0835-9531 | asilandco@yahoo.com |The State Institute for Art Studies (5 Kozitsky Lane, Moscow, 125009, Russia)

Kirill Korchagin | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3778-7252 | stivendedal@gmail.com | The Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences (1/1 Bolshoi Kislovsky lane, Moscow, 125009, Russia)

Keywords

Octavio Paz, Jagdish Swaminathan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, structuralism, modernism, Indian art, tribal art, adivasi art, bricolage, history of ideas, poetry

Abstract

While working in India in the 1960s, Octavio Paz, a then Nobel Prize laureate to be, participates in the local art scene and associates himself with its prominent figures, especially with Jagdish Swaminathan, who is recognized as a pioneer of the Indian avant-garde movement. Paz spent these years studying Claude Lévi-Strauss’s oeuvres on structural anthropology and advocates them amid Indian artists, who take these ideas as a pattern for a new art combining principles of European non-figurative painting and those of folk and tribal art. The present article traces the way Lévi-Strauss’s ethnographic thought was interpreted by Paz and Swaminathan, and the effect that way had on their practice and art institutions with which they associated themselves. The first part of the article focuses on Paz’s book on Lévi-Strauss (1967), which became a popular guide into structural anthropology for the English and Spanish language audiences in the 1970s. The second regards Swaminathan’s art as well as his work as a curator and director in Roopankar, Bhopal’s tribal and contemporary art museum, in which crucial principles of Lévi-Strauss ethnography were reflected. The final part analyzes Paz’s long poem Blanco, which can be viewed as a summit of his reflections on affinities between Indian thought and structural anthropology.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants: Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 19-18-00429]

Citation

Kuzina, E.O., and K.M. Korchagin 2020. Octavio Paz and Indian Avant-Garde: On an Episode of Reception of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Work in the 1960s [Oktavio Pas i indiiskii avangard: ob odnom epizode retseptsii rabot Kloda Levi-Strosa v 1960-e gody]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 54–75. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150012350-5

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