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Born 1915, Pandharpur, Maharashtra, India

Lives and works between Dubai and London.


M. F. Husain is the most recognised figure of modern and contemporary Indian art; he joined the Progressives Artists Group in 1948. A self-taught artist, Husain moved to Mumbai at an early age and began his artistic career by painting the billboards for cinemas. He recalls, "We were paid barely four or six annas per square foot. That is, for a 6x10 feet canvas, we earned a few rupees. And apart from the New Theatre distributor, the others did not pay us at all. As soon as I earned a little bit I used to take off for Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad to paint landscapes".

His first exhibition took place in 1947 with his painting Sunhera Sansaar, shown at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society and Husain decided to stay in India during the Partition in 1947. Between 1948 – 1950, Husain's work caught the public eye in a series of exhibitions across India and through the fifties and sixties, he traveled outside India, with his first foray into China in 1951. The following year he had his first solo exhibition in Zurich and so began a series of exhibitions across Europe and the United States. In 1966, the Government of India awarded him the Padmashree.

Over the following decades, Husain's fame spread and was glorified by what was deemed to be a rather controversial approach to his art. His Shwetambari exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery consisted of two halls shrouded in white cloth, whorls of which also shared the floor with torn newspapers. Later, he gave a public performance at the Tata Center in Calcutta. For several days a crowd watched as he painted pictures of six goddesses. On the last day of the exhibition he destroyed his paintings by overpainting them in white. Several of his paintings in the nineties were named after the film actress Madhuri Dixit, perhaps displaying a childhood obsession that goes back to the time of painting billboards. As reported in the Times of India, "the Padma Vibhushan awardee continues to paint events that are topmost on contemporary minds, be it the solar eclipse, the cricket mania or the victory at Kargil".

Themes in Husain's work have repeatedly returned to his cultural roots, but he has embraced diverse influences, be that the cinematography of Buñuel to themes that have blended folk, tribal and mythological figures to create vibrantly contemporary, living art forms in his work. Icons of Indian culture through the ages seek to capture the quintessence of his subjects, like Mother Teresa, Krishna and the goddess Saraswati. Besides painting, he has also made feature films, including "Through the Eyes of a Painter" in 1966, which won the Golden Bear Award winner at the Berlin Film Festival (1967), and "Gaja Gamini" in 2000. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan awards, both prestigious civilian awards.

Select Solo and Group Exhibitions

2008 Winter Moderns, an exhibit of five senior modern Indian artists - M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, Shyamal Dutta Ray Satish Gujral and B. Prabha, Aicon Gallery, New York

2008 Winter Moderns, exhibit of senior Indian modern masters, Aicon gallery, London

2007 From the Vault, Aicon Gallery, London and New York Epic India: Paintings by M F Husain, Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, USA

2006 M F Husain: Early Masterpieces 1950s-70s, Asia House, London, UK
The Moderns Revisited, Grosvenor Vadehra, London, UK

2005 Ashta Nayak: Eight Pioneers of Indian Art, Gallery ArtsIndia, New York

2000 New Works, The Fine Art Resource, Berlin

1995 Inaugural Exhibition; River of Art, Art Today, New Delhi

1991 National Exposition of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

1988 Takoka Municipal Museum of Art & Meugro Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan

1987 Coups de Coeur, Halles de I'lle, Geneva, Switzerland

1986 Indian Art Today, The Philips Collection, Washington D.C.
Contemporary Indian Art, Grey Art Gallery, New York.

1986 Sista's Art Gallery, Kala Yatra, Bangalore

1985 100 Jahre Indische Malerei, Altes Museum, Berlin

1982 Modern Indian Painting, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington,DC.
Contemporary Indian Art, Festival of India, Royal Academy of Art, London
India: Myth and Reality: Aspect of Contemporary Indian Art, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK
Six Indian Painters, Tate Gallery, London
Indische Kunst Heute, Kunsthalle Darmstadt

1973 Retrospective Exhibition, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Calcutta

1971 São Paulo Biennale, Brazil

1970 Art Today -II, Asoka Art Gallery, Calcutta

1969 21 Years of Painting , Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

1966 Art Now in India, Newcastle, England and Ghent, Belgium
Commonwealth Art Exhibition, London
Oberoi International Hotel, New Delhi

1965 Exhibitions in Baghdad and Kabul

1960 Tokyo Biennale, Japan Frankfurter Kunstkabinett, organized by Hanna Bekker vom Rath
Exhibition in Rome

1959 São Paulo Biennale, Brazil. Also 1971 as special invitee together with Pablo Picasso

1958 Eight Painters, International Culture Centre, New Delhi

1956 Zurich and Prague

1955 National Exhibition, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi
Venice Biennale, Italy

1953 Indische Kunst, Rautenstrauch- Joest –Museum, Cologne
Venice Biennale, Italy

1952 Zurich

1951 Salon de Mai, Paris

1950 Bombay Art Society's Salon, Bombay

1948–56 Group Exhibitions with PAG (Progressive Artists Group) Films

2004 Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities (Director and Writer)

2000 Gaja Gamini (Director, Writer, Actor)

Fiza (Thanks, as M F Husain)

1997 Mohabbat (Actor, as Himself)

1991 Henna (Art Department/Paintings: a tribute to Raj Kapoor, depicting "Henna" in line and color)

1966 Through the Eyes of a Painter (Director and Writer)


2004 Lalit Kala Ratna, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

1967 Awarded the Golden Berlin Bear for short film 'Through the Eyes of a Painter' (produced 1966), Berlin International Film Festival, Germany

1966 Awarded Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan, Govt. of India.

Husain has received Honorary Doctorates from the following:
Benaras Hindu University
Jamia Millia Islamia
Mysore University