The first exhibition from abroad to be organized by the Akademi was one on Canadian paintings held in Delhi on January 13th, 1955. The exhibition was shown later in Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai. This was closely followed by an exhibition of Chinese handicrafts in February and that of Hungarian Folk Arts in March. The UNESCO exhibitions were one of the major exhibitions hosted by The Lalit Kala Akademi. The UNESCO reproductions of Art contributed a great deal towards increasing knowledge and experience of art on an international level by affording an opportunity to artists and art lovers to acquaint themselves with the masterpieces of world art. The Akademi handled these exhibitions through the Indian National Commission along with UNESCO.
An exhibition entitled Who Was Rembrandt was organized by the Akademi in association with the Embassy of Netherlands in India in 1958. This travelling exhibition was taken to Ahmadabad, Baroda, Delhi, Amritsar, Lucknow, Patna and Kolkata. Films on Rembrandt and Dutch Art were also shown. Exhibition on Yugoslav Contemporary Graphics and Wood Engravings and on Czechoslovak glass were also organized the same year.
By 1965 the Akademi had managed to bring together photographs, graphics, architecture, paintings, sculpture from the world over through its exhibitions. Polish Contemporary Graphic Art, Rumanian Architecture, paintings by Mr T. Kulisiewicz on India and Mexico, French decorative art and more was received with keen interest. The Akademi organised its first Malaya exhibition in 1963. The biggest exhibition till then was titled Portrait of Mexico covered Mexican art of Mayan, Olmec, Mixtoc and Astec civilisations, paintings and sculptures of 3000 monasteries, churches, Baroque altarpieces in Mexico to the graphic paintings from the modern period. The tour started in Calcutta and was then taken to Delhi and Bombay.
Post 1965, exhibitions under the Akademi’s cultural exchange programme became very frequent. Art appreciators were familiarized with contemporary Australian paintings, the art of the aboriginals, works by Henri Cartier Bresson, Leonardo da Vinci, The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, art from Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia among others. In 1987, apart from the 61 graphic prints from Louvre that were on display, an UNESCO exhibit of paintings on psychological research on Fine Arts by Steven Doma was also put up on display. 1988 was an especially productive year with exhibitions such as photographs by Marc Ribound, sculptures by George William Myeyone, paintings by Nikdai Roerich, graphics by Max Klinger, Bulgarian Women Artists and paintings on the history of the representation of the universe from France.
Photographs of Van Gogh were displayed along with the works of some senior artists of the country in 1990. Prints of Van Gogh’s works were displayed in February 1992. Long Live the Poster by Michel Bouvet opened on 23rd October, 1991 with 75 of his original posters. The Japanese Foundation, New Delhi along with the Lalit Kala Akademi organised an exhibition of Japanese Tops and Kites on November 11, 1994. Herbert Schroeder’s photographs of the Himalayas, and Ms Ana Merchand’s paintings on the 16th century Sea Routes from Portugal to India delighted the Indian audience in 1994-1995. On the occasion of the visit of the Chinese Premier to the Akademi, an exhibit of musical instruments and art forms of China was put together at Rabindra Bhavan in 2005. Mexican paintings dealing with Surrealism, Expressionism and geometric abstractions from the Kyron Archive: 1972-2004 were displayed at the gallery in 2009.
Exhibitions Sent Abroad:
The first Indian exhibition sent abroad was a result of deliberations between various Eastern European countries and the Government of India. One hundred and eighty works comprising of ancient paintings, sculptures and works by contemporary Indian artists left India in December 1955 accompanied by Mr. B. C. Sanyal and Mr. H. A. Gade and travelled to Czechoslvakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Moscow.
Over the years, the Akademi participated in the International Exhibition of Graphic Art in Ljubljana (Yugoslavia), Paris Biennale, Biennale de Venezia, Biennale of Sao Paulo, Tokyo Biennale, Biennale of Graphic Art Florence, Cairo Biennale, International Arts Symposium Hungary etc. Selections from the Akademi’s private collections have been exhibited in various countries over the years. The exhibition at Seychelles in September, 1991 and at Adis-Ababa in 2002 comes to mind while on the subject. Bangladesh, Cyprus, Mauritius too have been on the Akademi’s list of places where regular art exhibits are sent. If one were to fit in the records, the list would run through several pages.