Is born on September 17 in Pandharpur, Maharashtra. Goes through life making up his date and year of birth: his birth certificate is traced posthumously.
His father moves to Indore.
Studies at Government Sanyogita Ganj Primary School, Indore, and is
tutored in Islamic studies by his stepmother’s father.
A chance encounter with artist N. S. Bendre leads to his joining
evening classes at Indore School of Art.
Joins Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay, but is unable to continue
following his father’s death.
Arrives in Bombay determined to become a painter. With no money
or even a place to stay, he sleeps on footpaths and supports himself
by painting film hoardings under streetlights.
Works with Fantasy furniture shop, designing nursery furniture and
The Progressive Artists’ Group is established with founding members
F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, K. H. Ara, S. K. Bakre, H. A. Gade, and Husain. Husain wins an award in his very first participation at Bombay Art
Society’s annual exhibition.
Views an exhibition at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi, assembled
originally by the Royal Academy, London.
Is part of the Progressives’ first exhibition in Baroda.
Paints Man, a large oil painting symbolising the pain of Partition, its
sombre colours emphasising the evil in the nature of man.
Designs sets for Bal Chhabda’s film, Do Raha, along with S. K. Bakre.
Travels to the World Peace Congress in Beijing, sponsored by the
U.S.S.R. and China. In China, he is inspired by the horses painted by
Chi Pei Shei.
Has his first solo exhibition in Zurich.
Visits Europe to view the works of modern masters like Paul Klee,
Picasso, Matisse, Modigiliani, whose works he has only seen in books
Paints Passage of Time, which marks the beginning of his Horse
Wins Lalit Kala Akademi’s national award; paints the mural-sized
canvas, Zameen, now in the collection of National Gallery of Modern
Art, New Delhi.
Makes his iconic painting, Between the Spider and the Lamp.
Exhibits thirty-four paintings in Czechoslovakia at Gallery Mannes,
Prague, all of which are gifted to interpreter/translator Maria Jaroslav
Zurkova—whom he falls in love with. She declines his marriage
Establishes the Shilalekh Group with Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, and
V. S. Gaitonde.
American collector Tom Keehn arranges an exhibition in New Delhi,
‘Eight Painters’, including Husain’s works. Husain paints portraits of
the Keehn family.
Is offered the John D. Rockefeller III Fund fellowship but declines it.
Is awarded by the International Biennale, Tokyo.
Visits Benares with Ram Kumar and renders its landscape in his
Solo exhibitions in Tokyo and Rome.
Has exhibitions in Bombay and New Delhi of his Rajasthan series.
Gives up wearing shoes for a lifetime to mourn the death of Hindi poet
Muktibodh. Among other reasons he proffers for abjuring shoes is his
long-dead mother being unable to see him step into his father’s shoes,
or in memory of an unrequited love.
First U.S. exhibit at India House in New York.
Visits Karbala, in Iraq, the site of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.
His paintings of this period reflect his emotional turbulence as an
Is awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India.
Directs Through the Eyes of a Painter for the Government of India’s
Films Division. The film wins the Golden Bear award at the Berlin
Film Festival and is acquired by Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Completes and exhibits a series of twenty paintings on the Ramayana
that he mounts on bullock carts to take through the villages of
A first-ever retrospective, ‘21 Years of Painting’, is organised at
Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay, by Gallery Chemould.
Begins his Mahabharata series for the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil, to
be exhibited alongside Pablo Picasso’s works.
Is awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
Paints his infamous portraits of Indira Gandhi as Durga riding a tiger
during the Emergency, earning himself the opprobrium of the art
world for his apparent sycophancy.
First meeting with Mother Teresa, who embodies eternal maternal
love to him; he welcomes her after receiving the Noble Peace
Prize, sketches her face on the spot, and hands it to her, which she
autographs with ‘God bless you’. This encounter begins Husain’s long
engagement with Mother Teresa as muse, always represented by a
faceless woman in her distinctive white-blue saree.
Has an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Paints the ceiling of government-owned Kanishka Hotel (now Hotel
Shangrila), New Delhi. The murals are subsequently removed to
Husain ni Gufa, Faridabad.
Does portraits of Urdu poets Ghalib, Iqbal, and Faiz.
Paints a series of portraits of Indira Gandhi following her assassination
the previous year; and begins his series on the British Raj.
Is nominated to the Rajya Sabha where he fails to make an impact
over a five-year term. Publishes his drawings from Parliament as a
book, Sansad Upanishad.
Makes a series of paintings on Calcutta for the city’s tercentenary.
Is awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.
Works with Pritzker award winning architect Balkrishna Doshi on
Husain-Doshi ni Gufa in Ahmedabad. He paints its interiors. It has
subsequently been renamed Ambdavad ni Gufa.
Hindu right wing fundamentalists take issue with his 1976 nude
painting of Saraswati, and vandalise his paintings in Ahmedabad.
Protesting against Husain’s depiction of Hanuman carrying a nude
Sita, Husain’s house in Mumbai is attacked.
Makes Hindi feature film Gaja Gamini with leading actress Madhuri
‘88 Husains in Oils’ exhibition travels to Kolkata, New Delhi and
Makes his second film, Meenaxi - A Tale of Three Cities, with the
actress Tabu as muse, which receives flak from Muslim organisations.
Makes a series of twenty-five paintings for ‘Our Planet Called Earth’,
a commission from businessman Guru Swarup Srivastava that turns
out to be self-sponsored.
Tired of facing right wing extremists and summons to appear in
court, flees to a life of self-exile in Dubai. Spends his time between
Dubai and London.
Receives the Raja Ravi Varma Award from the Government of
Kerala. Makes a series of paintings based on the Hindi film Mughal-e-Azam.
Accepts citizenship of Qatar. Paints a series of works on the Arabic
civilisation for the Qatari royal family.
Begins a series of paintings on the Indian civilisation for London-based
Indian steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal. The series is exhibited
posthumously at Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Passes away in London in exile at the age of ninety-eight and is buried
in a cemetery there. His death is mourned throughout India.