Amrita Sher - Gil is recognized as the first truly Modern Indian artist, born in Hungary of mixed Indo - Hungarian parentage in 1913. Undoubtedly this heritage gave her many of the opportunities that molded her. She was an individualist in the true sense, not belonging to any one school of painting. She was trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and from there on her style emerged as pictorial and a fusion of Western and Eastern tradition. Her education in the West exposed her to modern masters such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. She returned to India because she felt that India was hers, whereas the West already belonged to Matisse, Picasso, and Braque etc. Sher-Gil's legacy to Indian art was to bring it out of its lethargy and to liberate it from its ode to British academicism and imitation of the Bengal School.
In 2000 Vivan Sundaram, Sher - Gil's nephew and renowned multi-media artist produced the Re-take of Amrita Sher - Gil series (he is her sister's son) using the legacy of photographic archive left behind by her father, his grandfather, Umrao Singh Sher - Gil. From the countless photographs of the entire Sher - Gil family that are in the archive and especially of Amrita, Sundaram has reworked the images and created photomontages, each re-take telling a new and different story, with the common thread being Amrita herself, in the center, in the foreground. There is a sense of poignancy that radiates from each of these photomontages, of a bygone era. The viewer is confronted all at once with multiple emotions in relation to the central subject herself, the choice of media and expression by the artist, as well as the relationship between the original photographer, the subject and Vivan Sundaram, the artist himself.
Father - Daughter: Amrita and Umrao Singh stare into the lens of the camera. The frontality of the image brings a destinal message of self-knowledge, and death.
Amrita was photographed by Umrao Singh in Shimla in 1936. Umrao Singh's self-portrait carries an inscription behind it: 'His misery and his manuscript. Photo by USG 14 November 1946.' The manuscript he holds contains his writings in Sanskrit.
Studio: 30's Deco: Amrita's photograph was taken outdoors in Shimla by Umrao Singh in 1937. Here, she is seen sitting in the sharply focused interior of the house 'L'atelier', designed by her, at Summer Hill, Shimla. The furniture and carpet in Art Deco style were also designed by Amrita. The carpet still exists. The detail is of Amrita's painting Fruit Vendors, 1937.
The preface talks about a dialectic in Amrita's worldview. It extended into every detail of her person and life. (V. Sundaram, Re-take of Amrita, Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2001, p. 56)