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Day 3: Mexican Art – Our 30 favorite things about Mexico – September celebrations


Time for some art! On Day 3 of our September Mexican celebrations, we would like to share with you some of Mexico’s art, featuring the most important Mexican muralists of the 20th-century.

Born November 23, 1883 in Ciudad Guzmán, Mexico, Jose Clemente Orozco, was a social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance. He became interested in art at the early age of 7 years old, when his family moved from his hometown to Mexicy City. Every day, while going to and from school, he used to stop by the open workshop of Jose Guadalupe Posada, Mexico’s first great printmaker. Orozco was captivated by Posada’s strong images and vivid style, and for the rest of his life he acknowledged the early influence of the master engraver.

Orozco began night classes in drawing at the Academy of San Carlos. By the end of the 90’s Jose Clemente interrupted his pursuit of art by obeying his father´s wishes and studing agronomy and later, architectural draftsman. At the young age or 17, he lost his left hand in a tragic laboratory accident, abandonned his architectural studies and reentered the Academy of San Carlos, with a renewed passion for painting.

Inspired by one of his teachers, known as Doctor Atl, Orozco conscientiously began to explore Mexican themes and to draw more directly from scenes of daily life. He became a caricaturist for an opposition newspaper and haunted the barrios, or slums, of Mexico City, painting a series of watercolours dealing with the lives of prostitutes that was collectively titled House of Tears, the critics and moralists’ negative reaction to the exhibition of his work compelled him to leave Mexico for the United States, where he lived for several unhappy years in San Francisco and New York City.

He returned to Mexico in 1920, to discover that the new goverment of President Obregon was eager to sponsor his work, and along with his colleagues Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and others, he was commissioned to paint murals on the walls of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. This was the begining of the Mexican muralist movement.

Orozco was dissatisfied with his early murals there; he decided they were too derivative of European traditions, and he destroyed many of them. Works such as Cortés and Malinche (1926), show him coming into his own style, achieving a monumentality unprecedented in Mexican art.

Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican muralists, fond of the theme of human suffering,

Between 1922 and 1948, Orozco painted murals in Mexico City, Orizaba, Claremont, California, New York City, Hanover, New Hampshire, Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Jiquilpan, Michoacán. His drawings and paintings are exhibited by the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico City, and the Orozco Workshop-Museum in Guadalajara.Orozco was known for being a politically committed artist. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers.

Orozco died in 1949 in Mexico City, leaving a valuable heritage to Mexican art and culture.

During September, will be sharing with you 30 things we love most about Mexico, in honor of this month’s Independence celebrations. Click here to view the complete list.