Leading international art auction house Christie’s has rejected a demand that it withdraw from an upcoming auction the works of noted artist MF Husain who is accused of painting Hindu gods and goddesses in a “derogatory and vulgar” form.
In a letter sent to Christie’s, the Indian American Intellectual Forum President Narain Kataria had threatened to hold a demonstration unless it stops the scheduled auction of Husain’s paintings on March 20.
Christie’s spokesperson Sara Fox said the auction house is “respectful of all religions and ethnicities” but has to keep in mind “artistic freedom”.
“We also respect artistic freedom. Christie’s will not withdraw the works by M F Husain from sale of South Asian Modern plus Contemporary Art on March 20,” she said.
“Art and culture embraces multiple interpretations and re-interpretations of religious and ethnic symbols that are often highly individual expressions,” she said in an e-mail response.
Kataria said the Forum along with Hindu Janjagruti Samiti would go ahead with its planned demonstration outside the auction hall on the day of the event.
In his letter, Kataria said Husain had gained “notoriety” in India by painting Hindu gods and goddesses in nude and in a very “derogatory and vulgar form.”
Christie’s expects some of the paintings to fetch between $120,000 and $180,000, while several others may be bought for $20,000 to $40,000.