Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Francis Newton Souza

 (1924 - 2002)
Francis Newton Souza was active/lived in New York / India, England.  Francis Souza is known for avant garde painting, human form-heads.

Francis Newton Souza

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in Saligao, in Goa, India, in 1924, Souza studied at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai, but was expelled for his participation in the Quit India Movement. In 1949, he left for London where he supported himself doing occasional journalism, writing articles for magazines like Studio International and ArtNews and Review. He rocketed to international fame in the 1950s following a 1955 solo show at London's Gallery One, in which all of his paintings were sold. The next decade saw a bevy of solo shows, a 1962 monograph, an Italian government-sponsored stint in Italy, and acquisitions by London's Tate Gallery. Backed by the patronage of Eugene Schuster, of the London Arts Group gallery, in Detroit, Souza migrated to New York in 1967, where he received the Guggenheim International Award. Success waxed and waned in the years that followed, though his reputation was ultimately cemented. Throughout his life, his work appeared in the world's major art spaces, including the Halles de L'lle in Geneva, the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., Bose Pacia in New York, the Royal Academy of Arts in London and many others in Paris, London, Dubai and New Delhi. He died on a visit to his native country, in Mumbai, and was buried there in 2002. Since his death, his work has appeared in dozens upon dozens of exhibitions around the world.

Christie's, Mumbai

Biography from the Archives of askART
Francis Newton Souza (April 12, 1924 - March 28, 2002) was an Indian artist. He was the first avant-garde artist from India to achieve widespread recognition in the West.

Biography from Saffronart
"But for art, man would die of boredom!" Francis Newton Souza was born in 1924 in Saligao, Goa. After losing his father at a very young age and being afflicted by a serious bout of small pox, he vowed to go about life his own way. Souza was expelled for participating in the Quit India Movement while studying at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai. In 1947 he founded the Progressive Artist's Movement along with S.H. Raza, M.F Husain and K.H. Ara, among others. Of all his contemporaries from the Progressive Artists' Group, of which he was the main ideologue, Souza was perhaps the single real international success. An articulate genius, he augmented his disturbing and powerful canvases with his sharp, stylish and provocative prose. Francis Newton Souza's unrestrained and graphic style creates thought provoking and powerful images. His repertoire of subjects covers still life, landscape, nudes and icons of Christianity, rendered boldly in a frenzied distortion of form. Souza's paintings express defiance and impatience with convention and with the banality of everyday life. Souza's works have reflected the influence of various schools of art: the folk art of his native Goa, the full-blooded paintings of the Renaissance, the religious fervor of the Catholic Church, the landscapes of the 18th and 19th century Europe and the path-breaking paintings of the moderns. A recurrent theme in his works is the conflict in a man - woman relationship, with an emphasis on sexual tension and friction. In his drawings, he uses line with economy, while still managing to capture fine detail in his forms; or he uses a a profusion of crosshatched strokes that make up the overall structure of his subject. In 1949 he left for London where after a few years of struggle he began to make a mark on the art scene. In the 1950's Souza shot to fame with his one-man show at Gallery One in London, which is also when his autobiographical essay "Nirvana of a Maggot" was published. In 1967 he migrated to New York where he received the Guggenheim International Award. He was settled there till he passed away in 2002. Francis Newton Souza has exhibited all over the world. His works are in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. He has also exhibited at the Gallery Creuze, Paris, in 1954; at Arts 38, London, in 1975 and 1976, and at Bose Pacia Modern, New York, in 1998. F.N. Souza passed away in March 2002.

Biography from Sutlej Art Gallery
Born in Goa, India in 1924, Francis Newton Souza,  the founder of the Progressive Artist's Group in 1947, is best known for his inventive human forms particularly the heads.  He was a student at the J.J. School of Art from where he was expelled in 1942 for participating in the Quit India Movement.

He left for London in 1949 where after an initial period of struggle his work began to have an impact.  The Institute of Contemporary Arts included his work in a group exhibition in 1954 to be followed by a solo show at Gallery One in 1955. 

The publication of his autobiographical piece 'Nirvana of a Maggot' in Encounter magazine that was then edited by the poet Stephen Spender also won him recognition.
A series of exhibitions that followed did well and were reviewed by well-known art critics like John Berger who noted that Souza straddles many traditions but serves none".

Apart from his paintings he proved to be very articulate and an ingenious writer as his book "Words and Lines" published in London in 1959 revealed.  He was on his way to being recognized as an outstanding painter when he left for the United States and settled in New York in 1967.

Souza participated in the Commonwealth Artists of Fame exhibition in London in 1977 and has had several exhibitions including one man shows in Paris in 1954 and 1960 and in Detroit in 1968.  His retrospectives were held in New Delhi and Mumbai in 1987 and a show at the Indus Gallery in Karachi in 1988. A large retrospective was once again held in New Delhi in 1996.

Souza's early work has made an impact both in India and abroad.  His strong, bold lines delineated the head in a distinctive way where it was virtually re-invented the circles, hatchings and crosses.  In later years, his forms retained their plasticity but became less inventive.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday
Untitled (Self Portrait)

About  Francis Newton Souza

Born:  1924 - Saligoa, Goa, India
Died:   2002 - Mumbai, India
Known for:  avant garde painting, human form-heads