Thursday, November 23, 2017

On this day in 1883. José Clemente Orozco , Mexican Social Realist and Muralist

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate on this day. Today's birthdayt guy is José Clemente Orozco (November 23, 1883 - September 7, 1949). A few years ago I saw a show of his drawings down in San Jose and was so impressed by his bold vision. As with so many artists of the last century, he deserves to be better known. He was a Mexican social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others.

Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican muralists, fond of the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera. Mostly influenced by Symbolism, he was also a genre painter and lithographer. In this image, he looks over some of his drawings in his New York City apartment on Dec. 4, 1945.

Prometeo del Pomona College
Mural "Omnisciencia", 1925
Of "Los tres grandes" (The Three Greats) of the Mexican Muralists, José Clemente Orozco, notoriously introverted and pessimistic, is in many ways the least revered. One possible explanation for that is that, unlike his colleagues, David Siqueiros and Diego Rivera, Orozco openly criticized both the Mexican Revolution and the post-Revolution government. What was perceived as standoffishness was, by all accounts, the profound despair of a person who felt deeply for others. Orozco's style is a mixture of conventional, Renaissance-period compositions and modeling, emotionally expressive, modernist abstraction, typically dark, ominous palettes, and forms and iconography deriving from the country's indigenous, pre-colonial, pre-European art. Orozco's skill as a cartoonist and print maker is detectable not only in his style but also in his ability to communicate a complex message -- generally, timely political subjects -- simply and on a massive scale. The Mexican Muralist movement as a whole asserted the importance of large-scale public art and Orozco's murals, in particular, made space for bold, open social and political critique.é_Clemente_Orozco

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

Orozco was unknown to me which is strange as I know Diego Rivera. From what you've depicted here, I like Orozco better. I'm very fond of the mural "Omnisciencia."