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Celebrating MF Husain\’s legacy on his 10-year death anniversary

June 9, On This Day


Today marks the 10th death anniversary of Maqbool Fida Husain or MF Husain, as he is popularly known, one of India’s most recognised and adulated artists, who has had a fair share of controversy dog his creations over his lifetime.

A few interesting facts about him:

  • He was born on September 17, 1915 in Maharashtra’s Pandharpur into a Suleymani Bohra family.
  • It was at a madrasa in Baroda in his formative years that he picked up taste in art — through studying calligraphy.
  • Early in his career, Husain also famously painted cinema posters in Mumbai.
  • He had a vast amount of work that spanned over 10 decades, producing roughly 40,000 paintings by the end of his lifetime.
  • MF Husain is known for executing bold, vibrantly coloured narrative paintings in a modified Cubist style.
  • He became the best-paid painter in India, his highest-selling piece fetching $1.6 million at a 2008 Christie’s auction.
  • His biography ‘Maqbool’, written by Akhilesh, is the most appreciated book published by Rajkamal Prakashan New Delhi.
  • In 1971, Husain was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the São Paulo Biennial, Brazil.
  • He has produced and directed several movies, including Gaja Gamini (2000) (with muse Madhuri Dixit, the subject of a series of his paintings signed ‘Fida’). He also went on to make Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities with Tabu.
  • His first paintings that allegedly hurt Hindu religious sentiments were created in 1970, but did not become an issue until 1996, when they were published in a magazine.
  • Following his self-imposed exile after controversy over the years in his depiction of Hindu deities as well as some Quranic verses in India, he surrendered his Indian passport and embraced the Qatari nationality he was conferred. However, he continued to crave returning to India, despite risks involved.
  • Hundreds of lawsuits in connection with Husain\’s allegedly obscene art were outstanding as of 2007.
  • In 2008, he was commissioned to create 32 large-scale paintings of Indian history. He finished 8 before his death.
  • At the age of 92 Husain was given the prestigious Raja Ravi Varma award by the government of Kerala.
  • MF Husain died aged 95, on June 9, 2011, following a heart attack.