Madan Mahatta (Mehta) was born in Srinagar, Kashmir and studied photography in England in the early 1950s. He joined the family’s Delhi photo studio upon returning to India in 1954 and introduced negative-positive colour printing for the first time. The Mahatta studios have a distinguished history as one of the pre-eminent family-run studios in North India. A prolific photographer, Mahatta worked across all genres—portraiture, dance, theatre as well as industrial and architectural photography. He combined a sensitive eye with an extraordinary sense of light and space—all of which made him the finest architectural photographer of his generation.
Mahatta’s exhibition of architectural photographs, Delhi Modern (1950s–1980s) curated by Ram Rahman were exhibited for the first time at PHOTOINK in 2012 to wide acclaim. The exhibition was a remarkable record of the building of New Delhi at the height of Nehruvian modernism. Mahatta had worked closely with two generations of India’s modern architects including Achyut Kanvinde, Ajoy Choudhury, Charles Correa, Habib Rahman, Jasbir Sawhney, J. K. Chowdhury, Joseph Allen Stein, Kuldip Singh, Raj Rewal, Ram Sharma, Ranjit Sabhiki, Shiv Nath Prasad and designers Mini Boga and Riten Mozumdar. His photographs of their works are an equal part of the legacy of a great period in Indian modernism.
Photographs from Delhi Modern have been included in numerous exhibitions, notably, Illuminating India: Photography 1857-2017, curated by Kate Bush at Media Space at the Science Museum, National Media Museum, London (2017-2018), Stretched Terrains curated by Roobina Karode at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2017), Urban Landscapes – Indian case studies curated by Deepak Ananth at The British School, Rome (2012), The Project of Independence: Architectures of Decolonization in South Asia, 1947–1985, Museum of Modern Art, New York(2022).
Mahatta’s works are widely collected and reside in prominent public collections such as the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, (New Delhi, India), M+ Museum (Hong Kong, China), Pier 24 (San Francisco, USA) and the Walker Art Centre (Minneapolis, USA).