Celebrated Indian artist MF Husain dies in London

INDIAN ARTISTS OBITUARY

Celebrated Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain, one of India’s foremost painters is no more. Born in a small hamlet in Maharashtra, India, Husain breathed his last on Thursday 9 June 2011 at the Royal Brampton Hospital, London. He was ninety-five.

MF Husain. Image from e-news4u.com.

MF Husain. Image from e-news4u.com.

With a career that catapulted him to great fame, MF Husain was forced to live in exile between London and Dubai from 2006. His controversial paintings of Indian goddesses Durga and Saraswati invited the wrath of Hindu groups which attacked his house in 1998 and vandalised his artworks. After being constantly mired in a number of controversies and legal cases, the legendary artist became a Qatary citizen in 2010.

Starting his artistic career as a humble Bollywood movie billboard artist in Mumbai, MF Husain went on to become an auction house favourite. His eclectic work came into limelight in the late 1940s when his iconic paintings of horses became well known.

In 1947, this barefoot painter joined the Progressive Artists’ Group, founded by Francis Newton Souza. This group of young artists encouraged an Indian avant-garde and engaged with the art world at an international level. A few years later, in 1952, his first solo exhibition was held in Zurich, after which he became a regular fixture on the global art scene. His work adorns museums and important private collections worldwide.

Macqool Fida (MF) Husain, 'Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabhartata 12', 1972. Image from artnet.com.

Maqbool Fida (MF) Husain, 'Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabhartata 12', 1972. Image from artnet.com.

His diptych Battle of Ganga and Jamuna was auctioned off for a huge sum of just over 1.6 million dollars at Christie’s in New York in 2008. More recently, his artwork titled The Sixth Seal, an oil on canvas comprising of six vignettes and depicting an amalgam of Cubist-style painting and Indian themes, was an auction highlight at Sotheby’s South Asian modern and contemporary art sale with an estimated sale price of 500,000 pounds, however it never sold. Additionally, three of Husain’s paintings topped a Bonham’s art auction in London on 1 June 2011.

Husain was not only a noted artist, but was also a film maker and poet of repute. In 1967, he won the Golden Bear at the International Film Festival in Berlin for his documentary Through the Eyes of a Painter. He also made two Hindi films, Gaja Gamini and Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities.

MF Husain shooting his first film, 'Through the Eyes of a Painter', in 1967. Image from timesofindia.indiatimes.com.

MF Husain shooting his first film, 'Through the Eyes of a Painter', in 1967. Image from timesofindia.indiatimes.com.

Aptly named the “Picasso of India”, Husain leaves behind a rich legacy of work, his contribution to the art world, a host of friends and a legion of fans.

DP/KN/HH

Related Topics: Indian artists, Progressive Artists’ Group, MF Husain

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