Leading international art auction house Christie's has rejected a demand to withdraw from an upcoming auction the works of noted artiste M F Husain who is accused of painting Hindu gods and goddesses in a "derogatory and vulgar" form.
In a letter to Christie's, 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 Christie's 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 had said Husain had gained "ignominy and notoriety" in India by painting Hindu Gods in nude and in a very "derogatory and vulgar form."
Christie's expects some of Husain's paintings to fetch between $120,000 and $180,000 while several others may be bought for $20,000 to $40,000.