Founded in the year of Indian independence the group sought to create an Indian form of modernism that celebrated traditional Indian painting while also acknowledging the pioneering developments in art in Europe and America. Ostracised by the Indian art establishment, they staged their own exhibitions and events, aided financially by a group of refugees from war-torn Europe, in particular the expressionist painter Walter Langhammer.
The founder members were K.H. Ara, M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza and F. N. Souza with S. K Bakre, H.K Gade, Krishen Khanna and V.S. Gaitonde joining later. Their first exhibition was held in 1948, but the group disbanded soon after, with Raza moving to Paris and Souza to London. M. F. Husain was publicly attacked for his work during the rise of Hindu nationalism in the 1980s, and was forced into exile in London.