Marg – A Path Less Trodden

Nishad Avari of Saffronart explores the history of India’s pioneering art and architecture magazine

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Mumbai: Over the last 66 years, Marg magazine and its associate publications have lived through several logos and avatars. Soon after Marg was founded as a not-for-profit publisher in 1946, with the support of industrialist and philanthropist J.R.D. Tata, Marg became a division of Tata Sons Ltd. In 1986, it was moved under the umbrella of the newly established National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), and finally, in 2009, the Marg Foundation was created as an independent Public Charitable Trust.

Marg, established as a magazine dedicated to art and architecture, was first published in October 1946, a year before India’s independence. The publication was founded by novelist and writer Mulk Raj Anand, who served as Editor for several of its volumes. As the Marg website notes, “With ‘seven ads and two rooms’ provided by the visionary industrialist J.R.D. Tata, it took up the massive task of identifying, cataloguing, and publicizing the nation’s heritage in the built, visual, and performing arts.”

Over the next decades, Anand, along with Assistant Editor Anil de Silva and Art Advisor Karl Khandalavala, led and firmly established this independent quarterly journal as one of the country’s most well-regarded publications in the fields of art and architecture. Following Anand’s long and celebrated tenure as editor, Saryu Doshi and Pratapaditya Pal led the publication, and this year, Vidya Dehejia took over the post.

Saffronart’s Words & Lines III Auction, held earlier this year, featured two issues from the very first volume of the magazine, published in January and April 1947 respectively, which included articles contributed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Karl Khandalavala, Herman Goetz, John Terry, Martin Russell and Kekoo Gandhy among others. A treasure trove of information and a collector’s delight, this set sold for more than four times its estimate.

An excellent resource for the study of ancient Indian art and culture as well, early Marg magazines have included some of the most pioneering scholarship on sites like Ajanta and Ellora, Khajuraho, Hampi and Konark. Saffronart’s collection From the Library of a Collector, features several early Marg publications on these subjects, as well as on the Heritage and Splendours of India.

Today, from its headquarters at the historic Army & Navy Building in Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda art district, Marg publishes quarterly issues of its magazine (currently in its 63rd volume) and four hard bound books each year. The Marg Foundation also collaborates with various entities to publish several single author books and other special publications, and has produced a few documentary films as well.

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