NRI from London buys
Hussain's paintings for $1 million
Tuesday, 30 December
NRI purchased 22 paintings of eminent
artist M F Hussain for a whopping one million US dollars.
Asked about the identity of the NRI, Hussain said
"he is from London and does not want to be quoted."
"This was a very good news, not only for me
but the entire Indian artists community and movement
of Indian arts," the 88-year-old Hussain. The
22 paintings are set of small colourful paintings,
painted at Mumbai, Delhi and Paris in the months of
June and July. A group of eight artists tried to give
a new look to Indian paintings about 50 years back
but it took so many years for such recognition, Hussain
Maqbool Fida Husain's mother, Zunaib, died in his
infancy and his father, Fida, remarried and moved
to Indore, where Husain went to school. He moved to
Mumbai at age 20 when he was admitted to the J. J.
School of Arts. He married in 1941. During his early
days in Mumbai he earned money painting cinema hoarding---
one of the often-told stories about his early days.
In Husain's own words:
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.
Given this bad pay, Husain tried other jobs as well.
One of the best paying was a toy factory, where he
designed and built fretwork toys.
In the 1947 annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society,
his painting Sunhera Sansaar was shown. This was his
first exhibition. After the Partition later that year,
Husain decided to stay in India. Soon the Progressive
Artists' Group was formed. Through it, Husain was
exposed to, and strongly influenced by, the work of
Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka. From 1948 to 1950
a series of exhibitions all over India brought Husain's
work to the notice of the public.
The 1950s and '60s
In 1951 Husain travelled to China. In the following
year he had his first solo exhibition in Zurich, and
over the next few years his work was widely seen in
Europe and the USA.
In 1966 Husain was awarded the Padmashree by the
Government of India. In the following year he made
his first film, Through the Eyes of a Painter. It
was shown at the Berlin Festival and won a Golden
Some of his best known works are called the Sufi paintings,
and were first exhibited at the Pundole Gallery in
During these years Husain slowly grew into a public
figure, often embroiled in controversies. 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
Husain had become a photogenic icon, and the newspapers
loved him. The stuffy Calcutta Club was pilloried
when it refused admission to a barefoot Husain on
the grounds that he violated their dress code. He
was nominated to the upper house of the Indian Parliament,
the Rajya Sabha in 1987; and during his six year term
he produced the Sansad Portfolio.
In the early '90s, several collections of his paintings
were made accessible to the public in exhibitions
of permanent galleries. The most interesting of these
is the Husain-Doshi Gufa in Ahmadabad, a collaboration
between the painter and an architect in the construction
of a gallery.
Husain's most interesting paintings of this period
is the series named after the film-star Madhuri Dixit.