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MF Husain

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MF Husain

MF Hussain

MF Husain ( 1915-2011) was a legendary painter of India. He is regarded as the “Picasso of India”. He was associated with Indian modernism in the 1940s. He is India’s foremost modern painter and an internationally recognized artist. He claimed to have produced 60,000 paintings.

He was also a printmaker, photographer and filmmaker. He was also the highest paid painter in India. His single canvases have fetched up to 2 million dollar at a Christie’s auction. In 2008 his “Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12” fetched 1.6 million dollar. 

It set a world record at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Sale. His film “Through the Eyes of a Painter” was shown at the Berlin film Festival. It won a golden Bear (Short Film). His name was included in the list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world issued by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.

About his Artistic Life

MF Husain was born on September 17, 1915, at Pandharpur in Maharashtra. Since his childhood he was mainly a self taught artist. During his initial days he painted the cinema hoardings in Mumbai. He later built and designed toys in a toy factory. 

During his painting career Husain landed in controversy for painting the nude pictures of Hindu Goddesses. This invited the anger of the Hindu nationalist groups which invited violence against him. Criminal complaints were also filed against him. 

A non bailable warrant was issued against him after he failed to respond to summon. After leaving India he was desperate to coma back to his country. Qatari nationality was conferred on him. He lived in Dubai and London after being forced to leave India in 2006. Husain died on June 9, 2011 at the age of 95 years following a heart attack. He died at London.

Career as an Artist

Husain’s popularity spread in the 1940s. He joined the Progressive Artist’s Group in 1947. His first US exhibit was in 1964 at India House in New York. His first solo exhibition was held in Zurich in 1952. He was the inspiration of a whole generation of artists of the country. 

He created four museums to showcase his works. He was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971. Husain was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1986.Husain was the highest paid painter in India. His single canvases have fetched up to 2 million dollar at a Christie’s auction. 

The Peabody Essex Museum showed a solo exhibition exhibiting the paintings of Husain inspired by Hindu epic the Mahabharata. In 2008 his “Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12” fetched 1.6 million dollar. It set a world record at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Sale.

 Husain landed in controversy for painting the nude pictures of Hindu Goddesses. He depicted the gods unclothed and often in sexually suggestive pose. This invited the anger of the Hindu nationalist groups which invited violence against him. Criminal complaints were also filed against him. 

His house was also attacked by mob. His painting of “Bharatmata” as a nude woman posed across a map of India with the names of Indian states on various parts of her body was also protested by the Hindu nationalists. The artist community was both supportive as well as against him during this time of the controversies. 

For the last part of his life he lived in Dubai and London. His work in Qatar was mostly towards the history of Indian civilization and the history of Arab civilization. Husain has also produced and directed several movies. He made his first film in 1967. 

The film “Through the Eyes of a Painter” was shown at the Berlin film Festival. It won a golden Bear (Short Film). In his film “Gajagamini” Madhuri Dixit acted. The film was a tribute to the actor.

Madhuri Dixit was his muse which was the subject of a series of his paintings which he signed Fida. His film “Meenaxi: A tale of Two Cities” had Tabu. The film was pulled out of cinemas when the Muslim organizations raised objections to one of its songs.

Awards and Honour

Husain was awarded the Padmashree by the government of India in 1955. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1973. The government of India awarded him with the Padma Vibhushan in 1991.

His film “Through the Eyes of a Painter” was shown at the Berlin film Festival. It won a golden Bear (Short Film). His name was included in the list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world issued by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.

For biographies on other Paintersclick here


Click here to pay tribute online 
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