Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Dina Bangdel

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Hobbs

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Chapman

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Babatunde Lawal

Fifth Advisor

Sonali Gulati


This dissertation focuses on the modern art of Pakistan from 1947-57, more specifically, the role of six important artists who founded the Lahore Art Circle (LAC) in 1952. The group played a pivotal role in the formulation of modernism in Pakistan after its establishment as an Islamic Republic. Framed within postcolonial theories and criticism, this study will address the role of modern art in developing new artistic sensibilities in the nation of Pakistan. In order to understand the context of LAC’s framing of “modernism” and “nationalism” in terms of specific historic and hybrid nexus,my research will provide an investigation of works of only the founding members of the Lahore Art Circle including: Shakir Ali (1924-1975), Sheikh Safdar Ali (1924-1983),Moyene Najmi (1926-1997), Ali Imam (1924-2000), Ahmed Parvez (1926-1979) and Anwar Jalal Shemza (1928-1985). In analyzing the works of individual artists and the role of LAC during the first decade of the establishment of Pakistan as a nation-state, this study provides a framework to understand the specific condition of modernism in Pakistan that was dictated by these artists’ careers and works. Thus, this research investigates how the framing of modernism for these artists took on highly personal, international, incipiently national and distinctly local forms in the early years of the Pakistan after the Partition of 1947. Lastly, it will also examine how the individual LAC artists situated themselves in the discourse between constructing a newly established Pakistani identity within the larger paradigms of international modernism.


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