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June 9: Remembering the Picasso of India

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Hailed as the ‘Picasso of India’ by the Forbes Magazine, Maqbool Fida Hussain or MF Hussain, breathed his last on June 9, 2011, at the age of 96. He was one of the most acclaimed artists both at the national and international level.

After completing his schooling from Indore, he shifted to Mumbai and took admission in Sir J.J. School of Arts. He began his career as a painter of cinema hoardings. To earn extra money, he also worked for a toy company, designing and building toys.

By 1940s, his work started gaining recognition. In 1947, he joined the Progressive Artist’s Group, founded by Francis Newton Souza. His first solo exhibition was held in Zurich in 1952. Gradually his work started getting appreciation in Europe and the USA.

Portrait of a Lady; Image credit
Portrait of a Lady; Image credit

The Government of India also awarded him with the prestigious Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shree. He was appointed to a term in the Rajya Sabha as well, in recognition of his contribution to the field of art.

MF Hussain also produced and directed movies. The famous ones are ‘Gaja Gamini’ starring Madhuri Dixit and ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities’ starring Tabu. His film,’Through the Eyes of a Painter’, which was showcased at the Berlin Film Festival won him a Golden Bear award.

He spent the last few years of his life in a self-imposed exile when he rubbed the sentiments of some religious group in the wrong manner. His nude portraits of Hindu gods and goddesses earned him hundreds of lawsuits.

Some other important events that took place on June 9 in history are:

Donald Duck
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1790: “Philadelphia Spelling Book” became the first American book to be copyrighted by John Barry.

1860: ‘Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter’ by Ms Ann Stevens was offered for sale for a dime. It was the first dime novel to be published.

1931: Robert H. Goddard patented a rocket-fueled aircraft design.

1934: Donald Duck makes his debut in a short film by Walt Disney, ‘The Wise Little Hen’ of the Silly Symphonies series.

1959: ‘The USS George Washington’, the first ballistic missile sub was launched.

1975: The first live radio broadcast started from the British House of Commons.

1983: Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party wins a landslide victory in the General Elections. She intends to bring an end to the extreme left wing socialism and the British voters support her and vote for her.

2008: Experts and locals try to help a hundred whales stranded off the coast of Madagascar. This is linked to the seismic surveys in the area by Exxon Mobil, which it denies. A minimum of thirty whales died as a consequence.

2013: The World Naked Bike Ride was organised in Mexico City, where nude bicyclists ride through the streets of Mexico. The ride was organised to create awareness about cycling as an exercise and as a means to decrease the usage of fossil fuels. This ride was also used as a means to emphasise the importance of drivers being careful and mindful while driving around cyclists.


Text by Tasneem Dhinojwala

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