Maqbool Fida Husain
(Indian, 1915–2011) was one of India’s most prominent Modern artists, and one of the first Indian painters to gain recognition at auction through his record-breaking prices. Born in Pandharpur, Husain was largely self-taught, earning money in his youth by painting movie billboards in Mumbai. He began his career as a Fine Artist in the 1940s, and was invited to join the Progressive Artist’s Group because of his interest in re-inventing conventional academic techniques. Through his association with this group, he was influenced by German Expressionist Emil Nolde
(German, 1867-1956) and Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka
Although Husain considered himself a “folk artist” he is often referred to as the “Picasso of India.” Inspired by both Amrita Sher-Gil
(Indian, 1913-1941) and George Keyt
(Sri Lankan, 1901-1993), he combined Western Modernism and Cubism with traditional Indian secular and religious subjects and motifs. Among his more traditional Indian subjects, his depictions of the Mahabharata
and other Indian deities are well known. A director as well as a painter, in 1967 Husain was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for his film Through the Eyes of a Painter
. His work was often controversial among Indian nationals, and his paintings of Hindu deities were ill-received because of their depictions of religious subjects in scenes that combined humor, nudity, and crude sexuality. In the last few years of his life he moved to Qatar and received Qatari citizenship to avoid threats he had received in India for his contentious subject matter.