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M. F. Husain

Husain, M. F. (Maqbool Fida Husain), 1915–2011, Indian painter. Often called the Picasso of India, he is known for brightly colored modernist paintings of mythical and religious figures. Although a Muslim, he often used Hindu deities for his subject matter, frequently painting them naked and sometimes in sexual situations. Two female "muses," one a Bollywood star, the other Mother Teresa, also recur in his work. Husain began painting movie billboards in Bombay (now Mumbai), which, along with traditional folk art, gave him his bright palette and bold forms, which he mixed with European modernist influences. Extremely prolifics, he became one of India's most successful artists and was also a photographer and filmmaker. Among his best-known works are a series of controversial watercolors (1975) inspired by the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. His work provoked the ire of Hindu militants, and in 2006, Husain went into exile in Dubai after receiving death threats.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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