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Jose Clemente Orozco: Paintings, Drawings, Graphics

Maya Stendhal
545 West 20th Street, 212-366-1549
April 27 - June 3, 2006
Reception: Thursday, April 27, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Known primarily for his large-scale public murals, the drawings, paintings and graphics of José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) presented at Maya Stendhal Gallery reveal a personal perspective on one of the greatest Mexican artists of the 20th century. He is credited, along with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros (known collectively as “Los Tres Grandes”), for leading the renaissance of Modern Mexican art, and for effectively launching the Mexican muralist movement. This exhibition, mounted in collaboration with the Fundación José Clemente Orozco, consists of over 50 rarely-seen works spanning the last twenty years of his artistic career, from the 1920’s through the 1940’s.

José Clemente Orozco was born in 1883, in Cuidad Guzmán, Jalisco, Mexico. At age 7 he began studying art at San Carlos Academy. In 1910, when Mexico exploded into revolution, Orozco forged ahead with a renewed passion for artistic expression; he began drawing political cartoons for La Vanguardia, a radical newspaper. His first individual exhibition in Mexico City in 1916-which included drawings of prostitutes-garnered harsh criticism in Mexico, and the following year, Orozco left his native country for America. This would mark his first of several stays in the United States, where he lived and worked in California and New York.

He perceived America as a beacon of social and technological advancement, depicting architectural and cultural themes in works such as World’s Highest Structure (1930) and Black Dance in Harlem (1946). Orozco drew inspiration from a wide range of sources, including Byzantine mosaics in Europe, the work of Mexican engraver Jose Posada, and Pablo Picasso’s paintings. The works on display reveal an artist whose grasp reaches far beyond the nationalist and socialist framework within which he is often categorized; they deal with themes of humanity. The paintings, drawings and graphics exhibited were produced at a later time of his life, revealing the final stages of his work’s evolution. Paintings shown from the Teules Series (Fabulous Beings) include 1947’s Mask with Jades ( 1947), and Skull with Feathers ( 1947) and reflect upon the epic event of the Spanish Conquest.

Drawings from the La Verdad series such as Truth twisted, deformed, altered, mutilated (1945) and Erotic Figures (1945) illustrate Orozco’s experimental approach to the human form. Orozco drew daily from life, and was particularly adept at capturing the psychology of his models, and this exhibition affords audiences the rare opportunity to see how this master draftsman conceived narratives in the figural composition
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