MF Hussain, a former movie billboard artist who rose to become India's most sought-after painter before going into self-imposed exile during an uproar over nude images of Hindu icons, died today. He was 95. Often described as India's Picasso, Hussain had lived in Dubai since 2006 after receiving death threats from Hindu hard-liners in India for a nude painting of a woman shaped like India's map. A nude of Hindu goddess Saraswati also angered critics, especially because Hussain is a Muslim.
The artist, whose full name was Maqbool Fida Hussain, started out as a poster artist for India's prolific Bollywood film industry. Decades later, his paintings became status symbols for India's wealthy elite, with his works commanding price tags running into millions of dollars. Hussain almost never wore anything on his feet. With his free flowing white beard and hair, he was an instantly recognizable figure in India's art world. Hussain spoke of a desire to return home during several interviews in recent years.