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Vidya Dehejia: Biography

The Sixty-Fifth A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts


Vidya Dehejia is the Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian Art at Columbia University, where she has taught since 1982. She holds a BA, an MA, and a PhD from Cambridge University and a BA from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay University. She is the author of many books, catalogs and essays on topics in the cultural and intellectual history of India. In addition to issues of gender and colonialism, she studies the theoretical basis for the portrayal of visual narratives of India’s sculpture and painting. Her subjects have ranged from Buddhist art in its earliest centuries to the esoteric temples of North India and from the sacred bronzes of the south to the art of British India. Her work examines artistic agency through a study of craftsmen, workshops, teams, stone, and tools. Recent publications and exhibitions include The Unfinished: Stone Carvers at Work on the Indian Subcontinent, with Peter Rockwell (2015); The Body Adorned: Dissolving Boundaries between Sacred and Profane in India’s Art(2009); Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj (2008); “Beauty and the Body of God,” in Chola: Sacred Bronzes of Southern India (2006); The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India (2002); andIndia through the Lens: Photography 1840 – 1911 (2000).

Professor Dehejia served as the director for the Southern Asian Institute at Columbia University from 2003 to 2008. From 1994 to 2002 she was acting director, deputy director, chief curator, and curator of south and southeast Asian art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. She was on the faculty of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, from 1973 to 1979. Professor Dehejia has received several awards and honors, including the Padma Bhushan Award, given by the president of India for exceptional contributions to art and education (2012), a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2009 – 2012), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1990 – 1991), and the Hettleman Award from Columbia University (1990). She was a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art (1997 – 2000).