Born in Lyallpur (now known as Faisalabad), in pre-partition Punjab
Father Kahan Chand Khanna leaves for England to pursue a doctorate
in British Indian history.
Upon his father’s return from doctoral studies in Europe, he brings
with him a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which
Khanna keenly studied. He also spends his summer holidays at
the vicarage of the Franciscan Brother, Joseph Gardener, who
reinforces his readings of the Bible. This inspires Khanna’s first
painting of St. Francis, which became a recurring subject in his
painting from the 1960s on.
The Khanna family moves to Multan.
Receives Rudyard Kipling Scholarship to study at Imperial Services
College in Windsor, England. The Second World War interrupts the
artist’s education. Returns to Multan and witnesses the untimely death of his cabinmate
at sea. This memory is reflected in the artist’s later works where he
dwells on drowning.
Family moves to Lahore. Joins Government College to complete
his Bachelor of Arts. Starts attending evening classes at Mayo School of Art.
Starts working at Grindlays Bank in Lahore.
Joins Sheikh Ahmed’s Studio One to study drawing.
Exhibits at the annual exhibition of Punjab Art Society where his
painting, Dead Tree, is commended.
Moves with family to Simla as a result of Partition. The socio-political
chaos will be reflected in his work.
Moves to Bombay with Grindlays Bank.
Develops close proximity with members of the Progressive Artists’
Group and begins to paint every evening.
His iconic painting, News of Gandhiji’s Death is included in Bombay
Art Society’s Golden Jubilee Exhibition. It wins praise from Rudy von
Leyden, art critic at The Times of India. The artist is formally inducted
into the Progressive Artists’ Group by M. F. Husain.
Marries his childhood friend, Renu Chatterji.
Is posted in Madras where the couple patronises musicians and
dancers. Khanna’s art reflects his love of music.
Has his first solo show at U.S.I.S., Madras, and has since exhibited
widely in India and abroad.
American collector Tom Keehn organises an exhibition of eight
painters, including Khanna, at the Indian and Eastern Newspaper
Society, New Delhi. Sir Kenneth Clark encourages Khanna to show at
Leicester Galleries, London.
Solo exhibition at All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi;
also participates in Tokyo Biennale, Japan.
Has exhibitions at Leicester Galleries, London; Graham Gallery, New
York; and is part of the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil.
Resigns from Grindlays Bank, after fourteen years to paint full-time.
Moves to New Delhi where he accepts a monthly contract of Rs 500 to
paint for Kumar Art Gallery.
Exhibits at Tokyo Biennale.
Is the first recipient of the John D. Rockefeller III Fund fellowship
(known at the time as Council on Economic and Cultural Affairs), and
travels to New York with wife Renu via Dacca, Rangoon, Singapore,
Indonesia and Japan, adapting the ancient Asian art of Sumi-e in his
Is an artist-in-residence at American University, Washington
D.C. Lives in Chelsea Hotel during this time; converts one of the
bathrooms in his hotel room into his studio.
Has a solo show at Watkins Art Gallery, American University,
Exhibits at Egan Gallery, New York, where one of his Sumi-e
paintings is acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.
His Window into Winter wins the national award at Lalit Kala
Akademi’s annual exhibition.
Exhibits at Lincoln Center, New York.
He is commissioner of the International Triennale, New Delhi,
for compiling its Indian section along with Prodosh Das Gupta.
His exhibition entry at the Triennale wins an award which he
refuses to accept because of the controversy triggered by it.
Is part of exhibition ‘Contemporary Art, Dialogue between East
and West’, organised by the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo,
Has a solo exhibition of photographs at Kunika Chemould Gallery,
New Delhi, and Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay.
Paints his celebrated series of works on Christ and the
Apostles, Pieta, Bandwallahs, and the roadside Dhaba.
Begins to paint his The Game series based on political and
military violence and atrocities committed while leading up to
the Bangladesh war.
Exhibits in ‘One World through Art’ organised by Ben and
Abbey Grey Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Meets Henri Cartier-Bresson and helps him with his series of
photographs on Delhi.
Exhibits in the third International Triennale, New Delhi.
Completes a mural in graphite for ITC’s Chola Sheraton in
Madras, allegedly the largest work in graphite ever created.
The mural has since been relocated to the group’s headquarters
Is part of the ‘Modern Asian Art’ exhibition organised by
Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan.
Paints his famous mural, The Great Procession, on the ceiling of ITC
Maurya, New Delhi.
Is part of ‘Modern Indian Painters’ at Hirschhorn Museum,
Washington D.C., and ‘Myth and Reality’ at Museum of Modern
Art, Oxford, U.K.
Receives the President’s Award at Baghdad International Festival of
Art in Iraq.
Exhibits in the Coups de Coeur at Geneva, Switzerland.
Wins gold medal at first International Biennale in Lahore,
Receives the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award, New Delhi.
Receives Padma Shri from the Government of India.
Exhibits in the Fifth Biennale, Havana, Cuba.
Exhibits as a special invitee at the second Indian Drawing
Is part of the inaugural exhibition of the National Gallery of Modern
Art, Mumbai, titled ‘The Moderns’.
Receives Kala Ratna from All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society,
Solo show ‘Mahabharat’ at Gallery 7, Mumbai.
Gayatri Sinha’s Krishen Khanna: A Critical Biography is published.
The artist releases his memoir, The Time of My Life: Memories,
Anecdotes, Tall Talk.
Received Lalit Kala Ratna from the President of India.
Saffronart and Berkley Square Gallery organise an exhibition of
the artist’s work in London. The Embrace of Love by Gayatri Sinha is published by Mapin.
Solo exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts, London, inaugurated
by writer Vikram Seth.
Krishen Khanna, Images in my Time and The Great Procession: A
Mural by Krishen Khanna are published as part of the Contemporary
Indian Artists Series by Mapin.
The artist’s solo, ‘The Savage Heart’, at Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai.
‘Krishen Khanna: A Retrospective’ is organised by Saffronart at Lalit
Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
Receives Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.
Raza Foundation publishes My Dear: Letters Between Sayed Haider
Raza & Krishen Khanna, an intimate glimpse into their camaraderie
as well as the art scene in the second half of the twentieth century.
A film is made on Krishen Khanna’s practice called A Far Afternoon,
based on a painting with the same title. Produced by the Piramal Art
Foundation, the film is screened in London, Mumbai, and New Delhi.
The artist’s solo ‘When the Band Begins to Play...’ opens at Grosvenor
His works are part of ‘After Midnight: Indian Modernism to
Contemporary India 1947/1997’ organised by Queens Museum of Art, New York, U.S.A.
Newspaper Readers is exhibited at DAG’s booth at India Art Fair,
Is part of ‘The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India’
organised by Asia Society and Museum, New York.
His Untitled (Road to Calvary) fetches a record of Rs. 2.4 crore at a
Pundole’s auction in Mumbai.
‘Krishen Khanna: Paintings from the Front Room’ opens at Grosvenor