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

Maqbool Husain

 (1915 - 2011)
Maqbool Fida Husain was active/lived in India, England.  Maqbool Husain is known for figure, genre painting.

Maqbool Husain

Biography from the Archives of askART

After a brief stint at the Indore Art College, Husain migrated to Mumbai and supported himself painting cinema hoardings.  In 1947 he became a founder member of the Progressive Artists' Group, and in 1968, he won the Golden Bear for his film Through the Eyes of a Painter.

His work showed in major solo exhibitions around the world up until the final years of his life, including, most recently, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., USA, and the Asia Art Gallery in London.  It also showed in many important international exhibitions, in cities like Geneva, New York, Washington D.C., Oxford, and at the Tate Gallery, London (1982).  In 1971, his work showed alongside Picasso's at the Sao Paulo Biennial.

He was honored copiously throughout his life.  He received honorary doctorates from Benares Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Mysore University.  Between 1986 and 1992, he was a Member of Parliament in India.  The Government of India awarded him the prestigious Padma Shri award in 1955, the Padma Bhushan in 1973 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1989.  In 1997, he received the Aditya Vikram Birla Kala Shikhar Award for lifetime achievement.

Husain was born in 1915 in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, in India.  He passed away in London in 2011.

Christie's, Mumbai

Biography from Saffronart
"All forms of art are born from one's roots"  The name Maqbool Fida Husain has become almost synonymous with contemporary Indian art, and deservedly so, for no single artist has popularized Indian art, within the country or internationally, as Husain has done.  His endless quest for his cultural roots and a fearlessly open-minded willingness to absorb diverse influences has made M.F. Husain one of the most recognizable figures of contemporary Indian art.

Husain began his career by painting billboards for feature films and making furniture designs and toys, to earn a living.  When he did take up painting as an art form, however, he returned time and again to his roots, and to themes that blended folk, tribal and mythological art to create vibrantly contemporary, living art forms.  His rise as a public figure has as much to do with his style and presentation, as it does with his themes.  He depicts the icons of Indian culture, through the ages, seeking to capture the quintessence of his subjects, like Mother Teresa and the characters of epics like the Mahabharata.

Husain was born in Pandharpur, Maharashtra.  A self-taught artist, he came to Mumbai in 1937, determined to become a painter.  In 1948, he was invited by F.N. Souza to join the Progressive Artist's Group, a group formed to explore a new idiom for Indian art.  Besides painting, he has also made feature films, such as "Through the Eyes of a Painter", in 1967, which was a Golden Bear Award winner at the Berlin Film Festival, and "Gajagamini" in 2000.  The Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan awards, both prestigious civilian awards.  Husain passed away in London in 2011.

Biography from Bonhams Bond Street
Maqbool Fida Husain (1915 - 2011)
M.F Husain travelled extensively throughout his lifetime and allowed for the influence of the cultures he experienced to consistently inspire him in his art. In the 1950s, Husain travelled to China, where he encountered the forms and themes that would lead him to create his now-legendary horse figures. As a Muslim, M.F. Husain frequently travelled to the Middle East and Pakistan, where he was heavily influenced by calligraphy, architecture, mosaics and most importantly, his faith of Islam.

Biography from Paul Edelstein Studio and Gallery
Maqbool Fida Husain, (born September 17, 1915, Pandharpur, Maharashtra-died June 9, 2011 at Royal Brompton Hospital, London, England)

Popularly known as M F Husain, was one of India's most well known artists.  After a long, successful career his work suddenly became controversial in 1996, when he was 81 years old, following the publication of an article about nude images of Hindu deities painted in the 1970s.

Husain came from a Muslim Indian family.  His mother died when he was one and a half years old.  His father remarried and moved to Indore, where Husain went to school.  In 1935, he moved to Bombay and was admitted to the Sir J. J. School of Art. He started off by painting cinema hoardings.

Husain first became well known as an artist in the late 1940s. In 1947, he 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 Zürich and over the next few years, his work was widely seen in Europe and U.S.  In 1955, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shree prize by the Government of India.

In 1967, he made his first film, Through the Eyes of a Painter.  It was shown at the Berlin Film Festival and won a Golden Bear.

M. F. Husain was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971.  He has been awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1973 and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986.

Husain went on to become the highest paid painter in India.  His single canvases have fetched up to $2 million at a recent Christie's auction.

He has also worked (produced & 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.

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) (USA, Massachusetts) showed a solo exhibition from November 4, 2006 to June 3,  2007.  It exhibited Husain's paintings inspired by the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.

At the age of 92, Husain received the prestigious Raja Ravi Varma award from the government of Kerala.

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 1996, when they were printed in Vichar Mimansa, a Hindi monthly magazine, which published them in an article headlined "M.F. Husain: A Painter or Butcher".  In response, eight criminal complaints were filed against Husain.  In 2004, Delhi High Court dismissed these complaints of "promoting enmity between different groups ... by painting Hindu goddesses — Durga and Sarswati — in an uncharitable manner hurting the sentiments of Hindus".

The controversy escalated to the extent that in 1998 Husain's house was attacked by Bajrang Dal and art works destroyed.  The leadership of Shiv Sena endorsed the attack. Twenty six Bajrang Dal activists were arrested by the police.  Protests against Husain also led to the closure of an exhibition in London, England.

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 filed against him and a court case related to the alleged obscene depiction of Hindu goddesses in his paintings resulted in issuing a non-bailable warrant against the painter 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 Husain and told the government that prosecutors would have a strong case against him if they sued him for deliberately hurting religious feelings.

M.F. Husain passed away on Thursday, June 9, 2011 at the age of 95.

Sources include:
AP News

Biography from Sutlej Art Gallery
A self-taught artist, Maqbool Fida Husain was born in 1915 in Maharashtra.  At an early age he learned the art of calligraphy and practiced the Kulfic khat with its geometric forms.  He also learned to write poetry while staying with an uncle in a Madrasa in Baroda, an art that has stayed with him through his life.

His early education was perfunctory but Husain's love of drawing was evident even at this stage.  Whenever he got a chance he would strap his painting gear to his bicycle and drive out to the surrounding countryside of Indore to paint the landscape.  In 1937 he reached Mumbai determined to become an artist, with hardly any money, he lived in a cheap room by a lane inhabited by pimps and prostitutes.  Initially, Husain apprenticed himself to a painter of cinema hoardings which he would paint with great dexterity perched on scaffolding sometimes in the middle of traffic.

Husain was noticed for the first time in 1947 when he won an award at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society.  Subsequently he was invited by Souza to join the Progressive Artist's Group.  A great deal of experimentation in the early years led to some remarkable works: Between The Spider and The Lamp, Zameen and Man.  By 1955 he was one of the leading artists in India and had been awarded the Padma Shri.  He was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971.  Along with several solo exhibitions he had major retrospectives in Mumbai in 1969, in Calcutta in 1973 and in Delhi in 1978. He has participated in many international shows which include Contemporary Indian Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1982; Six Indian Painters, Tate Gallery, London 1985; Modem Indian Painting, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington 1986 and Contemporary Indian Art, Grey Art Gallery, New York 1986.

In 1967 he won the Golden Bear at the International Film Festival at Berlin for his documentary Through the Eyes of a Painter and has made several short films since then.  Husain was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1973, the Padma Vibhushan in 1989 and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986.  One of the most charismatic artists in India today (2008), he is known for his emphatic understanding of the human situation and his speedy evocation of it in paint.  The early evolution of his painterly language was overtaken by adventurous forays into installations and performance art.  His experimentations with new forms of art are both unexpected and pioneering.

** 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

About  Maqbool Husain

Born:  1915 - Pandharpur, Maharashtra, India
Died:   2011 - Royal Brompton Hospital, London, England
Known for:  figure, genre painting