Maqbool Fida Husain

  • Born 1915 in Pandharpur, India
  • Died 2011 in London, UK
One of the best-known Indian modernists, Maqbool Fida Husain drew from different Indian cultural sources to create his narrative paintings. His inspirations include Hindu and other religious figures, the vibrant color and action of festivals, historical events, dance, and the daily lives of contemporary Indians. Husain studied calligraphy in Baroda, but was primarily self-taught. In 1935, he began painting billboard advertisements for Bollywood movies. Husain mounted his first exhibition in 1947 at the Bombay Art Society. After the Partition of India and Pakistan later that year, Husain co-founded the Progressive Artists Group. In the early 1950s Husain traveled to Europe, where he had a solo show in Zurich in 1952 and was deeply influenced by meeting Paul Klee (1879–1940) and other Cubist masters. Husain’s short film Through the Eyes of a Painter won a Golden Bear in the 1967 Berlin International Film Festival. In 1971 he was a special invitee (along with Pablo Picasso, 1881–1973) to the Bienal de São Paulo. Husain won the national awards Padma Shri (1966), Padma Bhushan (1973), and Padma Vibhushan (1991). However, the artist was criticized in India for his satirical representation of religious figures. Death threats and lawsuits by Hindu extremists led to Husain’s permanent departure from India in 2006.

Artworks by Maqbool Fida Husain in the exhibition