Maqbool Fida Husain Life History
Maqbool Fida Husain: Maqbool Fida Husain, popularly known as M.F. Husain, was a well known Indian artist. Famous for his stunning paintings of Indian women, and his habit of getting into controversies, he was also a multi-faceted person, having made movies, and served in India’s Parliament.
Maqbool Fida Husain was born on September 17, 1915 in Pandharpur, Maharashtra. He lost his mother when he was one and a half years old. After his mother’s death, his father remarried and moved to Indore, where Husain started his studies.
In 1935, he moved to Mumbai (then Bombay) and was admitted to the Sir J. J. School of Art. He started off by painting cinema hoardings. He became well-known as an artist in the late 1940s.
In 1947, Husain joined the Progressive Artists Group, founded by Francis Newton Souza. This was a clique of young artists who wished to break with the nationalist traditions established by the Bengal school of art and to encourage an Indian avant-garde, engaged at an international level. In 1952, his first solo exhibition was held at Zurich and over the next few years, his work was widely seen in Europe and USA. He went on to become one of the highest paid painters in India. His paintings have fetched millions of dollars at the auction.
In 1966, M.F. Husain was awarded the prestigious Padmashree prize by the Government of India. He has also been awarded the Padma Bhushan. In the following year, he made his first film, Through the Eyes of a Painter. It was shown at the Berlin Film Festival and won a ‘Golden Bear’.
Husain went on to become the highest paid painter in India. His single canvases fetched up to 2 million dollars at a Christie’s Auction. In recognition of his distinction, he was appointed to a term in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of India’s Parliament. He also worked (produced and directed) on few movies, including Gaja Gamini (with his muse, Madhuri Dixit who was the subject of a series of his paintings which he signed ‘Fida’) and Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities (with Tabu). His autobiography is being made into a movie tentatively titled, The Making of the Painter starring Shreyas Talpade as the young Husain.
In the 1990s, some of Husain’s works became controversial because of their portrayal of Hindu deities in the nude. The paintings in question were created in 1970, but did not become an issue until they were printed in a Hindu monthly magazine in 1996. The controversy escalated to the extent that Husain’s house was attacked by the Shiv Sena and art works destroyed. Charges of “promoting enmity between different groups… by painting Hindu Goddesses – Durga and Saraswati – in an uncharitable manner hurting the sentiments of Hindus”, had been dismissed by the Delhi High Court in 2004.
However, in February 2006, Husain was charged with hurting sentiments of people because of his nude portraits of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. A series of cases were brought against him and a court case resulted in issuing a non-bailable warrant against him after he failed to respond to summons. There were also reportedly death threats.
The artist left the country stating that “matters are so legally complicated that I have been advised not to return home.” Living in Dubai and London, he continued to stay away from India, but expressed a strong desire to return, despite fears that he may be arrested in connection with these cases. A Supreme Court order suspended an arrest warrant for Husain. The law ministry examined half-a-dozen works by him and told the government that prosecutors would have a strong case against him if they sued him for deliberately hurting religious feelings.
In February 2010 the Indian Picasso was offered Qatar Citizenship, which he accepted. He surrendered his Indian passport at a mission in Doha on March 8, 2010. He died on June 9, 2011. He was buried at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking Surrey, South of London.