© Homai Vyarawalla, 1940, The Victoria Terminus, now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal, Bombay

Besides capturing the last days of the British Empire, Homai Vyarawalla was one of the key visual chroniclers of the post-independence era, tracing the euphoria and disillusionments of a new nation as India’s first female photojournalist. For years her vast archive chronicling three decades of Indian history received less attention than the Indian work of her international contemporaries, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Margaret Bourke-White. But a new retrospective titled “Candid, The Lens and Life of Homai Vyarawalla“ at Manhattan’s Rubin Museum of Art is finally paying tribute to her groundbreaking work.

Born in Navsari, Gujarat in 1913, Vyarawalla learned photography from her boyfriend Maneckshaw Vyarawalla. Her training at the Sir J. J School of the Arts, Mumbai influenced her pictorial sense as did the modernist photographs she got to see in second hand issues of LIFE magazine. Her early portraits of everyday urban life and modern young women in Mumbai show these influences, but since Vyarawalla was unknown and a woman, these were initially published in the Illustrated Weekly and Bombay Chronicle under Maneckshaw’s name. (read more)

Homai Vyarawalla (1913-2012) was India’s first female photojournalist. This exhibition, the first on Vyarawalla outside of India, will present her photography from the late 1930s to 1970, and narrate her extraordinary life with a biographical film and ephemera from her career.

From early in her career, Homai Vyarawalla documented key events from the generation around Independence, including the historic meeting of Gandhi and the Congress Committee on the 1947 plan for partition, and she recorded the visits to India of world leaders and dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ho Chi Minh, and Zhou Enlai. She was revered in India and her recent death at age 98 generated tributes around the world. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts in New Delhi. (read more)

Exhibition dates:
On display at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City through Jan. 14, 2013.

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