Modernist printmaker, sculptor and art teacher, Krishna Reddy was known for his technical innovations in intaglio printmaking. He also created abstract sculptures and figurative drawings in response to political movements.
Born in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, Reddy was inspired to pursue art when he saw his father making sculptures and painting temple murals. While studying at Rishi Valley School, Madanapalle, Reddy came in contact with philosopher and pedagogue Jiddu Krishnamurti and created a series of murals for the school inspired by Krishnamurti’s philosophies. From 1942–47, Reddy pursued a fine arts diploma from Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, where he was mentored by Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij. It was in Santiniketan that Reddy was introduced to printmaking as a medium, and he began experimenting with woodcut, engraving and lithography. From 1947–49, he developed the visual arts programme at the College of Fine Arts at Kalakshetra. It was here that he began introducing geometricism into his practice and which began to characterise most of his subsequent work.
In 1949, Reddy moved to London to study sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he was mentored by English artists Henry Moore and Lucian Freud. He also joined the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, where he interacted with English artist Howard Hodgkin and art historian Herbert Reed. In 1951, Reddy received a scholarship to assist Russian artist Ossip Zadkine at Paris, where he met sculptors such as Constantin Brâncuşi and Alberto Giacometti as well as painters such as Stanley William Hayter and Joan Miro. In 1951, Reddy became a member of Atelier 17, and became its co-director in 1964. In 1957, Reddy worked closely with Italian sculptor Marino Marini at the Brera Academy, Milan. In 1976, Reddy set up the Color Print Atelier in New York, which provided workshop facilities for artists, teachers and students. From 1976 to 2002, Reddy served as the director of graphics and printmaking in the art department at New York University, and was named professor emeritus of art and education in 2002.
After becoming a member of the Atelier, Reddy began experimenting with techniques of sculpture making and printing by transforming metal plates into relief sculptures. The process involved incising and gouging the metallic plate to create a fine network of hashes, which formed an image. This was the initial step towards making polychromatic prints in his signature style. During this period, he also worked in close association with Kaiko Moti and Hayter to develop viscosity painting using simultaneous colour printmaking, wherein coloured inks were mixed with different concentrations of linseed oil to achieve different viscosities, then applied to a metal plate to create multicoloured, abstract, whirlpool-like prints that indicated Surrealist influences.
Reddy also created politically relevant figurative artworks, including protest posters for the Quit India Movement. In 1943, during the Bengal famine, he created a series of ink drawings of the experiences of the people. He made posters for the Algerian War, as well as figurative works, prints and bronze sculptures documenting the student protests in Paris in May 1968.
Reddy’s work is characterised by a preoccupation with natural elements such as trees, butterflies and spider webs. His early work includes drawings, such as those made at the Ajanta Caves in 1940, which stand in vivid contrast to his abstract sculptures and prints. His sculptural practice, while relatively less renowned, bears a semblance to his abstract prints, with early works featuring greater structure and harmony.
Reddy travelled extensively to showcase his work and frequently returned to India to conduct workshops and guest lectures. He also inaugurated the printmaking studios at Garhi, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 1978. Reddy received the Padma Shri in 1972 and the Kala Ratna in 1997, as well as the Printmaker Emeritus of the Year Award from the University of Miami and Florida in 2000. In 1988, a manual of Reddy’s instructions on intaglio, titled Intaglio Simultaneous Color Printmaking: Significance of Materials and Processes, was published. His works have been shown at the Gallery Chemould (1966); the Tokyo Biennale (1972); the Portland Museum, Oregon (1997); the Birla Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata; JJ School of Art, Mumbai; and Roopankar Museum, Bhopal. His works are held in the collections of Tate Britain and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.
Reddy died in 2018 in New York City.
Our website is currently undergoing maintenance and re-design, due to which we have had to take down some of our bibliographies. While these will be re-published shortly, you can request references for specific articles by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.