Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1959
In 1975, Anand Sarabhai (responding to Rober Rauschenburgs suggestion)
formally labeled the family’s interactions with artists as Sarabhai residency. However, informal interactions between the family and many artists, designers, performers, architects, and scientists had been taking place since the 1940s (over three generations). The Sarabhai Foundation, under which the residency ran, was formed in 1959 by Ambalal Sarabhai and his wife, Sarladevi Sarabhai. The Sarabhai family, one of the leading industrialist families of Ahmedabad. The members of the Sarabhai family have made their mark as champions of the newly independent modern India in both industrial and cultural sectors. They provided a much-required context to prompt Indian heritage to be used in contemporary meanings. The first generation of the family was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi and the struggle for independence. The second-generation members were founders of institutions such as NID, IIM Ahmedabad, ISRO, Calico Museum, and many more. The third generation is credited for expanding the family’s private collection. The residency was located at the family Retreat at Shahibaug in Ahmedabad. The Built on 22-acre land, and Le Corbusier designed the residency building in 1951. The residency was a not-for-profit organization that functioned based on invitations and barter systems. Anand Sarabhai suggested the exchange system where the artists would give the family a certain number of works created on their visit.
The Sarabhai family was first in India to invite artists to live with them, interact with the
local culture, providing studio space and material for them to work within the city. For
for instance, in 1959, when Alexander Calder accepted Gira and Gautam Sarabhai’s invitation to visit Ahmedabad, he traveled with only a pair of pliers. There were instances when the residency helped artists to alter their practice. As seen with Robert Rauscchenburg’s visit in 1975. This visit inspired him to use paper and the second hand textile he bought from the flea market in Ahmedabad. Sarabhai residency attracted the best talents of “international modernism” to Ahmedabad between the 40s till later 70s, and the family’s private collection is arguably the most extensive in India of modern American Artists.