A mural by M.F. Husain at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is a National Centre of the Government of India, for advanced study and fundamental research in nuclear science and mathematics. TIFR is also home to a priceless collection of art – which makes it unique among scientific institutions anywhere in the world. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research owns and manages an art collection which was financed entirely by the Institute.

Along the corridors of the Institute are displayed some remarkable works of art, spanning several decades of the second half of the twentieth century.

TIFR was founded by Homi J. Bhabha in the year 1945. Homi Bhabha was not only a famous scientist, but was also a good artist himself and a great connoisseur and patron of art.

India attained independence in 1947. In the same year a group of six artists formed the Progressive Artists’ Group to establish new ways of expressing India in the post-colonial era.

Homi Bhabha was both a patron and a close friend of some of these artists. He bought several of their works for very nominal prices. In doing so he founded the priceless collection that can be seen today at TIFR.

Bharat Bhagya Vidhata
The most important single work in the TIFR art collection is the remarkable 45-foot mural executed by M.F. Husain and titled Bharat Bhagya Vidhata.

The mural takes a Rajasthani landscape as the venue for the riot of action that the artist shows to the viewer. Husain at that time was in the middle of a series of paintings based on Rajasthan.

The mural tradition runs long and deep in Indian Art History and in the 20th century itself there was already a corpus of work from which to draw inspiration and reference.

The mural's physical presence at the institute is so overwhelming that it can be said to be the collection's emblematic art work.

Husain's fully realised mural in TIFR is an exceptional achievement by the artist at the peak of his powers.

There is no leading narrative, but a large amount of vignettes that play out on their own while keeping in tune with the overall composition.

The repeated use of the elephant within the work is a clever conceit that further adds to the impression of monumentality that a mural naturally evokes

Animals, architecture, and people jostle with each other for the attention of the viewer.

Husain was the only artist to take up residence at the Institute during 1963-64 during which he executed TIFR’s most iconic wok – the mural Bharat Bhagya Vidhata.

The grand mural was commissioned by TIFR and came out of a competition process that ran from the end of 1962 into the first months of 1963. The mural was finally completed by Husain in 1964.

Homi Bhabha's sketch of Maqbool Fida Husain 
From poster painter to India’s most celebrated artist to a lonely death in exile, Husain’s life was a roller coaster whose one enduring quality was his sheer genius. Born in Pandharpur, his early years were spent in Indore. Husain began his career as a painter of cinema hoardings after attending art school in  Mumbai. Using freehand drawing and vibrant colour, he depicted Indian subject matter in the style of contemporary European art movements, particularly Cubism. Husain's career really began with India's independence in 1947. He became grouped with a number of young artists called the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group with a desire to forge a modern Indian art for a new country.
Credits: Story

Photo of Mural- Anil Rane

Archival photo- Photo of Bhabha's sketch of M.F. Husain- TIFR Archives

Other photos- Nupen Madhvani

The TIFR Art Collection by Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal, published by TIFR, 2010, Mumbai

Finance- Tata Education Trust

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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