Anjolie Ela Menon Indian


Born in 1940 in West Bengal of mixed Bengali and American parentage, Anjolie Ela Menon was a student of Lawrence School, Lovedale, and by the time she left school at the age of fifteen she had already sold several paintings. After this, she pursued her studies at the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, and then went on to obtain a degree in English literature from Delhi University. During this phase, she was influenced by the works of artists like Modigliani and Indian painters like Amrita Shergil and M.F. Husain. At the age of eighteen Menon showcased her works in much acclaimed solo exhibitions in Delhi and Mumbai.


The French government offered her a scholarship to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she studied fresco. Menon utilized this time to travel extensively in Europe and West Asia studying Romanesque and Byzantine art before returning home. Her works are a part of significant museum, private and corporate collections across the globe. Though Menon normally prefers to work with oil on masonite, she has also experimented with other media such as glass, acrylic, computers, ceramics and painted junk.


The trajectory of Menon’s career soared steadily upwards in the years to come. Her first solo exhibition was held at 71 Lodhi Estate in 1958 for which the invitation was designed by M.F. Husain. From forty-five solo shows, the more important ones are Bhulabhai Desai Institute, Mumbai, 1959; Blackheath Gallery, UK, 1965; Doma Khudozhnikov, USSR, 1967; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 1971; Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, 1972; Chemould Gallery, Mumbai, 1974 & 76; Gallerie Radicke, Bonn, 1982; Taj Gallery Mumbai, 1983; Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, 1984; Winston Gallery, Washington, 1984; Air Gallery, London, 1990; Museum Gallery, Hong Kong, 1996; Wallace Gallery, New York, 2000; Gallery Admit One, Chelsea, New York, 2002; Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2004; Sacred Prism II, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, 2005; Aicon Gallery, New York, 2006; and Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2006. She has had two retrospectives: Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai in 1998 and the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai in 2000. Her works are regularly sold at all global auctions including Sotheby’s and Christies and have been aquired by several museums in India and abroad including the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; Benjamin Gray Museum; Peabody Essex Museum; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; and Fukuoka Museum, Japan. She has represented India at the Algiers Biennale, the Sao Paulo Biennale, and three triennales in India. She has participated in several group shows in India and abroad including the Victoria & Albert Museum London and shows in Singapore, Bangkok, Washington, New York and Palo Alto.


Menon is also a social activist, who supports the education of disadvantaged children. Based on her life and work, a book Anjolie Ela Menon: Paintings in Private Collections has been published and several films have been made on her by Doordarshan and CNN. She has been honoured with the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in India. She was also awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters by the French Government.


She is married to strategic analyst and writer Admiral Raja Menon. They have two sons and four grandchildren.