Life and times of master artist Maqbool Fida Husain

Spicezee Bureau

Controversial artist Maqbool Fida Husain was born on 17 September, 1915 in Pandharpur, Maharashtra (India).

He was titled the ‘Picasso of India’ by the Forbes Magazine. Husain rose to fame in the late 1940s. He joined Francis Newton Souza’s Progressive Artists` Group in 1947. His first exhibition was held at Zürich in 1952 and since then he gained popularity across Europe and the US. He was awarded the Padma Shree by the Government of India in 1955.

His first film `Through the Eyes of a Painter` made in 1967, was showcased at the Berlin Film Festival. He won a Golden Bear for the film. In 1971, Husain was invited at the Sao Paulo Piennial along with Pablo Picasso.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1973 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1991. He was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha in the year 1986.

Three paintings by M F Hussain topped a Bonham`s auction in London, going under the hammer for Rs 2.32 crore with an untitled oil work in which the legendary artist combined his iconic subject matters - horse and woman - fetching Rs 1.23 crore alone.

Husain made films life ‘Gaja Gamini’ and ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities’.

Husain’s ‘Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12’, inspired from the Hindu epic, fetched USD 1.6 million, setting a world record at Christie`s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale in 2008.

His name features in the list of 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, issued by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan.


Husain’s paintings had hurt religious sentiments of Hindus as he portrayed Hindu deities in nude in the 1990s.

The paintings in question, made in 1970, were not appreciated by public when they were published in `Vichar Mimansa`, a Hindi monthly magazine. The caption read- `MF Husain: A Painter or Butcher`.

Almost eight criminal complaints were lodged against him in response to his objectionable portrayal of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

However, in 2004, the Delhi High Court discharged these complaints of "promoting enmity between different groups ... by painting Hindu goddesses — Durga and Sarswati.”

His house was attacked in 1998 by Bajrang Dal and his paintings were damaged. The Shiv Sena too, endorsed attacks on the painter. Following protests by Hindu groups in the UK, his art exhibition had to untimely close-down in London.

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