TODAY -

'Picasso of India' MF Hussain dead
Source: The Sangai Express / Press Trust of India

London, June 09 2011: Legendary Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain, popularly known as 'Picasso of India' who earned both fame and wrath for his paintings, died here today at a hospital following over a month-long illness.

He was 95 .

Hussain breathed his last at 2.30 am local time (0700 IST) at the Royal Brompton Hospital where he was admitted after being in "indifferent health" for the last one-and-a-half month, family sources told PTI.

It was not immediately clear whether the artist, who was once a member of Rajya Sabha and had been decorated with nation's second highest award Padma Vibhushan, had any wish regarding his last rites.

The family sources said that funeral arrangements for the celebrated painter are yet to be finalised.

The painter, whose works fetched astronomical sums at the recent Bonham's auctions the highest for any Indian artist, was living in self-exile since 2006 following a series of legal cases and death threats against him over his paintings depicting Hindu goddesses in nude.

He accepted Qatari citizenship in 2010 after surrendering his Indian passport and till the last was reticent on whether he would return to his homeland.

Born in Pandharpur in Maharashtra on September 17, 1915, Husain courted controversy over his paintings of Hindu goddesses.

His paintings on goddesses Durga and Saraswati invited the wrath of Hindu groups which attacked his house in 1998 and vandalised his art works.

In February 2006, Husain was charged with hurting sentiments of people because of his nude portraits of Hindu gods and goddesses.

In the wake of legal challenges and death threats in his home country, Husain had been living abroad in self-imposed exile since 2006 .

As he had not responded to summons from an Indian district court in Haridwar, his properties in India were attached as per court orders and a bailable warrant was issued against him by the court.

Three of Husain paintings recently topped a Bonham's auction here, going under the hammer for Rs 2.32 crore with an untitled oil work in which the legendary artist combined his iconic subject matters � horse and woman � fetching Rs 1.23 crore alone.

In 1952, Husain's first solo exhibition was held at Z�rich and over the next few years, his work was widely seen in Europe and the US.

In 1955, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shree.

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.

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

He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1991.1990 and 2011 Husain went on to become the highest paid painter in India.

Husain's autobiography was being made into a movie tentatively titled The Making of the Painter, starring Shreyas Talpade as the young Husain.

His name has also been included in the list of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, issued by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan.

Artist Pranava Prakash said, "Artists such as Husain and Raza sell because of their PR machinery, not because of their artistic merit" .

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, that was later compromised by Hindus" .

In 1998 Husain's house was attacked by Hindu groups like Bajrang Dal and art works were vandalised.

Protests against Husain also led to the closure of an exhibition in London, England.

The artist left the country stating that "matters are so legally complicated that I have been advised not to return home".

He used to live in London and Dubai.

A recent Supreme Court order has suspended an arrest warrant for Husain.


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