MF Husain’s Indelible Legacy: A Pioneer of Modern Indian Art!

By | Published on Jul 28, 2023 | in


Art in India is believed to be as ancient as the civilization. The oldest evidence of art and different art forms are believed to belong to the Indus Valley Civilization. Evidence from pre-historic rock art in India that was an early art form consisting of carvings or drawings on cave rocks has been found by archeologists. The petroglyphs found in central India, Bhimbetka are believed to be at least 290,000 years old.

India has continued to be the home to a lot of traditional art forms for a very long time. These art forms share a close connection with religion, day-to-day life, history, or natural landscapes. However, this article talks about an Indian artist with recognition in different parts of the world, MF Husain.

Early Life of M F Husain

Maqbool Fida Husain commonly known as M F Husain, was born in the early 20th century in a humble family located in Pandharpur, Maharashtra. He was a born artist. Losing his mother at a very young age left a scar on his soul that could never be healed. Due to his father’s financial condition, he might not have been able to join a formal school for art, but Husain learned about art by exploring. Somewhere around the mid-1930s, he moved to the city of dreams – Mumbai in search of work for an artist.

His early jobs give him the opportunity to paint gigantic cinema hoardings. His art was greatly influenced by the environment that surrounded him during his early years in Mumbai. Painting cinema hoardings helped Husain evolve a visual vocabulary that was bold, vivid, and larger-than-life. Thanks to his work and his keen interest in cinema, Husain had a unique artistic language that was narrative in tone, always keen to tell a story to his audience.

Husain’s Journey as a Painter

Husain had experienced his share of hardship in the journey from a penniless billboard painter to an iconic, world-class artist. However, his knack for turning his disadvantages into strengths played an important role in his success as an artist. Husain gives the credit for his efficient use of fingers and hands in art, to the time when he worked in a wooden toys workshop to support himself.

In his early days in Mumbai, he kept up his independent artistic practice in parallel to not giving up on his passion. During this time, Husain sold the first MF Hussain painting on the roadside for a mere Rs. 10. His constant effort to survive in the city through side jobs like designing furniture, gave him the freedom to perfect his signature style along with a steady income.

MF Husain’s Contribution to Indian Art

Maqbool Fida Husain is an iconic figure remembered for his contribution to modern Indian art. Husain revolutionized the Indian art scene and left an indelible mark on the global artistic landscape with his remarkable artistic prowess and visionary approach. Here are a few points with an aim to shed light on Husain’s significant contributions to modern Indian art and his enduring legacy that continues to inspire generations of artists.

Embracing Indian Identity

M.F. Husain’s legacy has its roots deeply attached to his Indian identity and cultural roots. He skillfully blended traditional Indian artistic techniques with contemporary themes. This created a unique visual language that reflected the complexities of Indian society. Husain’s vivid use of color, bold brushstrokes, and dynamic compositions captured the essence of Indian life.

Each MF Husain painting beautifully portrays the vibrancy of festivals, the struggles of common people, or the spiritual mysticism of the country. His art became a powerful medium to express the diversity, energy, and rich cultural heritage of India.

Celebrating the Common Man

Husain’s artistic repertoire was deeply rooted in the experiences of the common man. He brought the lives of ordinary Indians to the forefront, depicting their struggles, aspirations, and joys. Through his art, Husain elevated the marginalized and voiceless, giving them a platform to be seen and heard. He portrayed the resilience of farmers, the plight of the urban poor, and the challenges faced by women, thereby making a profound social commentary. By celebrating the common man, Husain redefined the traditional narratives of Indian art, bridging the gap between high art and the masses.

Fusion of Modernity and Tradition

Husain was able to blend traditional Indian art forms with modern artistic sensibilities effortlessly. He infused age-old techniques with a contemporary twist, drawing inspiration from folk art, miniature painting, and classical Indian mythology. A unique visual language captured the zeitgeist of modern India through Husain’s innovative approach to art. In addition to reinvigorating Indian art, he also helped to define a new cultural identity for a rapidly changing nation through his amalgamation of tradition and modernity.

Global Recognition

MF Husain is an artist who has immense respect for his artworks around the world. The awards, international recognition, and praises are a result of his massive creative contribution to the field. His works are on display worldwide. The Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York have his works. These galleries and museums appreciate his work.

This skill has resonated with audiences globally. His paintings became a window into Indian culture, capturing the imagination of art enthusiasts worldwide and placing Indian art firmly on the global stage.

Artistic Activism

Husain’s art was not limited to the canvas; he used it as a powerful tool for social and political commentary. Fearlessly tackling controversial subjects, he sparked conversations on pressing issues such as religious and social tensions, gender inequality, and cultural identity. Despite facing considerable backlash and threats, Husain refused to compromise his artistic freedom, remaining steadfast in his commitment to artistic expression.

His courageous stance elevated the role of artists as catalysts for change, inspiring future generations to use art as a means of protest, advocacy, and social transformation.


It is impossible to measure the depth of M F Husain’s contributions to modern Indian art. Each MF Hussain Painting depicts his unparalleled talent, innovative approach, and unwavering commitment to artistic freedom. He has left an indelible impact on the art world with his commendable work. Husain’s ability to celebrate Indian identity, merge tradition with modernity, and highlight social issues through his art make him a true pioneer.

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