On 09 June 2011, M.F. Husain – the most famous, and at times the most controversial – modern artist of India passed away at the age of 95. When he was 88 years old, Husain emigrated from India to the Persian Gulf—first Dubai, then Doha, Qatar—after some politically powerful members of the Hindu right brought a case against him over his depictions of women and Hindu goddesses in his paintings. He was accused of corrupting the sensibilities of others!
Last week, M.F. Husain died in London, where he also kept a home and studio for many years. He is said to have produced over 30,000 paintings. And some of his pieces have sold at auction for over $1.5 million. So, indeed, he’s well know in “art circles.” Yet his work is quite amazing, and has been for the better part of the 20th century and the initial years of the 21st century, and he deserves to be better known around the world by folks who aren’t collectors, South Asianists, or painters as an important contemporary artist, period. Perhaps like so many artists his death will usher in a renewed and greater awareness for his work, artistic innovation, and historical importance.