Born in Jaipur in 1942, Raghubir Singh was a self-taught photographer who worked in India and lived in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, where he passed away in 1999. In the 1960s he dropped out of college to become a professional photographer. In the early years of his career, Singh photographed for international magazines. However, his style rapidly departed from photojournalism. Starting with his first book Ganga (1974), Singh insisted on the use of colour at a time when colour photography was still marginal in art circles. His photographs document the socio-political and cultural changes undergoing Indian society in the key decades spanning the late 1960s to the late 1990s. While the city of Calcutta was one of his first inspirations, Singh focused on Bombay in the early 1990s at a time of radical economic and political transformation. Over the course of his prolific career Singh published 13 photobooks and drew a unique portrait of his country that has few equivalents in scope and ambition.
In 1998 the Art Institute of Chicago organized a retrospective exhibition of his work. The book River of Colour was published on the occasion of this exhibition, which was also presented at Le Bon Marché in Paris and at Delhi and Bombay’s National Gallery of Modern Art. In his last book A Way into India, completed before his death and published posthumously by his estate, Singh used the Ambassador car as a viewing device to frame and divide his compositions. In the accompanying text, artist John Baldessari compares Raghubir Singh to Orson Welles for his juxtaposition of near and far and to Piet Mondrian for his fragmentation of space. Singh's work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions and he is acknowledged internationally as a visionary photographer.