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Directory Home> Bali Products> Bali Art and Crafts Products
 
ART AND CRAFT
 
The Dutch take-over of Southern Bali in 19061908 not only destroyed the traditional courts of the island but it also shattered the old system of art production. There were now new patrons of the arts, and the artists made works that were commodities instead of items of religious use or content. This has an important impact on the production of carvings which could now be made with free themes and content. By the end of the twenties, the young carvers of the Mas area were already making birds and statues for commercial purposes: the new freedom of expression was turning a formerly religious art into a mere handicraft.

At this stage Bali was "discovered" by Western artists whose influence would give a new turn t the evolution of its arts. Several of them chose t reside in Ubud, in particular Walter Spies (18951942) and Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978). With the support of the princes of the Sukawati House of Ubud, they set to encourage the budding renewal of sculpture and painting, distributing material and guiding the artists with advice and criticism.

The Westerners also functioned as dealers, channeling Balinese works to international connoisseurs. In a matter of years, the production had grown to such an extent that an association was set up to guide the renewal movement through more official channels. This was the Pita Maha association (1936-1942), a guild of Balinese plastic art, whose name has now become identical with the renewal movement. The renewal of sculpture that took place in the late 1920s was both thematic and aesthetic. The first themes which came to the mind of Balinese carvers once they did not work for religious purposes were depictions of elements of their daily life: people sitting, drinking from a pitcher, resting, squatting, talking. The Balinese started looking at themselves with a new, "candid" eye.
 
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