Marg is a Mumbai-based not-for-profit publisher whose mission is to encourage an understanding of Indian art in the broadest sense of the term. It strives to light up “many dark corners” in India’s cultural landscape and to spark debate on all aspects of heritage among academics, critics and interested general readers.
Since its inception in 1946, our quarterly magazine has reflected new trends, new research and new scholarship, from both upcoming and established art historians and scholars. The magazine is aimed at a wide audience and seeks to forge a connection between art and life.
Marg’s quarterly books, published simultaneously with the magazine from 1977 to 2009, have since diverged into independent publications, each a landmark contribution.
Among other avenues we pursue, Marg has been publishing special books outside the quarterly series in a variety of formats.
We have also produced thought-provoking documentary films on India’s architectural heritage and changing urban spaces, steered by eminent scholars and practitioners.
Marg has been privileged to have Mulk Raj Anand as Founder Editor from 1946 to 1981, followed by Saryu Doshi (1981–86), Pratapaditya Pal (1993–2012), Vidya Dehejia (2012–15), and Co-Editors Jyotindra Jain and Naman P. Ahuja (2015 onwards).
MARG (Modern Architectural Research Group) began life as a magazine in 1946. It was founded by scholar-writer-activist Mulk Raj Anand along with a group of intellectuals which included Karl Khandalavala, Anil de Silva and Minnette de Silva. With “seven ads and two rooms” provided by the visionary industrialist J.R.D. Tata, it took up the massive task of identifying, analysing and advancing the artistic heritage of a newly independent nation, guided by the spirit of humanism, socialism and internationalism.
In those early years, Marg vastly benefitted from its location in Bombay which was then the centre of the Progressive Artists’ Group. Imbibing the vibrant spirit of a young metropolis, Mulk was able to forge valuable associations with the best of the international and national avant-garde: scholars, émigrés, architects, filmmakers, painters and professionals from theatre and advertising, all known for their path-breaking creativity.
Collaborating with designer and photographer Dolly Sahiar, he brought out in every quarter a journal unique not only in its content but also in its look and feel. Together, they experimented with different kinds of paper and a mix of black-and-white and colour spreads and typography that would evoke the pluralistic collage that is the essence of India.
Marg, which means pathway, sought to provide a new direction to Indian art and architecture. In landmark issues on Chandigarh (Vol. 15 No. 1, 1961) and Bombay: Planning and Dreaming (Vol. 18 No. 3, 1965), the magazine served as an urban catalyst, defining plans and structures that would shape these developing towns and cities. Walter M. Spink in Ajanta to Ellora (Vol. 20 No. 2, 1967) presented his controversial theory about the chronology of the second period of construction in the Viharas and Chaityas at Ajanta. Later in 1981, the earliest excavations and studies at Hampi were documented in Splendours of the Vijayanagara Empire: Hampi (Vol. 33 No. 4).
Marg also explored the connections between Indian and South Asian art with world art and has over the years done special issues on specific regions such as Africa, Anatolia, Persepolis, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Besides being an archivist of the times, Marg has engaged with the challenges that confront artists and cultural institutions. In 1954 (Vol.7 No. 4), it stood by Akbar Padamsee during a court case which accused him of obscenity in his paintings; and in 2018 it once again returned to the subject of censorship through a provocative magazine Art: Faked, Censored, Stolen (Vol. 69 No. 3).
Our books in the quarterly series have also provided a forum for pioneering research. Notable have been Bharata Natyam: Indian Classical Dance Art (1979, revised 1997, reprinted 2007), Kathakali: The Art of the Non-worldly (1993, reprinted 2009), Sattriya: Classical Dance of Assam (2013)— the first comprehensive studies of these dance forms and their exponents; India’s Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art, & Life-Cycle (2002, reprinted 2009), a significant documentation on the vanishing heritage of the community; and Lessons From Hell: Printing and Punishment in India (2018), a close look at the disturbing but fascinating genre of karni bharni images.
In 1993 it created a niche for guidebooks for the serious traveller with the publication of In and Around Ajanta and Ellora.
With the production of films, Marg ventured beyond print media. Purva Uttara: Past Forward (1997), a series of eight mini-documentaries on important heritage sites in India, commemorated 50 years of independence and was shown on several major television networks. One City, Two Worlds (2002) presented a revisioning of city planning in Bombay/Mumbai.
Throughout its rich and varied journey, Marg has received support from generous patrons. But for J.R.D. Tata’s strong belief in Marg’s mission through several decades it would have been virtually impossible for the organization to continue. From 1951 to 1986, it functioned as a division of Tata Sons Limited. In 1986 it became a division of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (a Public Charitable Trust). In 2009 an independent Public Charitable Trust was founded, and the activities of Marg were transferred to The Marg Foundation in 2010.
From December 2017, all archival and current magazines are available online. With this latest intiative, we hope to reach out to an even wider readership, especially younger groups.
We hope through our pages you find your history and a connection between art and life.
Jyotindra Jain, formerly Director of the National Crafts Museum; Professor at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University; and Member Secretary of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, all New Delhi, was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University and a Rudolf-Arnheim Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin. An eminent scholar and curator, his major publications include: Tradition and Expression in Mithila Painting (1996); Other Masters: Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India (1998); Picture Showmen: Insights into the Narrative Tradition in Indian Art (1998); Kalighat Painting: Images from a Changing World (1999); Indian Popular Culture: “The Conquest of the World as Picture” (2004), and Francesco Clemente: Made in India (2005). He was a recipient of the 1998 Prince Claus Award for Culture and presently is a Member of the International Advisory Board of the Humboldt-Forum, Berlin.
Naman P. Ahuja is Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and is a widely published authority on the history and aesthetics of Indian art and design. He has held curatorial charge of Indian sculpture at the British Museum apart from curating several exhibitions of both classical and modern Indian art in India and internationally. Previously, as Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, he authored a comprehensive catalogue of their ancient Indian collections and at Fellowships at the Getty Institute he has explored the multicultural nature of the art of Gandhara. He is invited to speak at conferences and universities all over the world and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Zurich, the Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence, the University of Alberta in Edmonton and at SOAS, his alma mater.
Vidya Dehejia is Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art at Columbia University in New York. Over the past 40 years, she has combined research with teaching and exhibition-related activities around the world. Her writings have incorporated translations of ancient poetry and material from unpublished manuscripts; she has explored the theoretical basis for the portrayal of India’s visual narratives and has examined issues of gender and colonialism. Her over 20 books range from Buddhist art of the centuries BCE to the esoteric temples of North India, and from the sacred bronzes of the South to the art of British India. Management and curatorial experience at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries provided the opportunity to convey the excitement of India’s art to both scholars and non-specialist audiences. She was General Editor of Marg from 2012–15.
Pratapaditya Pal has been associated as curator with leading American museums that have South Asian collections, and has taught at several universities. Recognized as an authority on the arts and cultures of the Indian subcontinent, particularly the Himalaya and Southeast Asia, he is a prolific writer with over 60 publications. As General Editor from 1993–2012, Dr Pal helped steer Marg through many new avenues.
Saryu Doshi, noted art historian, was editor of Marg for five years. She has published extensively on the world of Indian art and has curated numerous exhibitions especially at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.
Mulk Raj Anand (1905–2004), philosopher, litterateur, and social activist, was the Founding Editor of Marg. An avowed nationalist and modernist, under his leadership, for some 30 odd years, Marg began to undertake the massive task of identifying, cataloguing, and publicizing the nation’s heritage in the built, visual, and performing arts, seeking to engender public debates about museums, monuments, urban planning, art education, and questions of heritage.
Marg welcomes proposals for books, thematic magazine issues and magazine articles from writers on subjects related to art and culture from India and India influenced countries. We call on scholars, including those in the final stages of their dissertation, to submit their proposals for consideration. Marg aims to draw a wide audience into scholarly discourse. Proposals and articles therefore need to reflect this by balancing well researched and thought provoking insights with accessible and evocative writing.
The proposal submission form can be downloaded below.