Jose Clemente

Mexico • 1883−1949
José Clemente Orozco (born Nov. 23, 1883, Zapotlán el Grande, Mex. – died Sept. 7, 1949, Mexico City) was a Mexican painter, revolutionary and one of the style-leading innovators-monumentalists of the 20th century.

José Clemente Orozco's artistic features: the artist's style implied depicting his characters in "maximum emotions". Orozco's work is fundamentally tragic, aimed at showing the horror and unnaturalness of violence and enmity between people, so that "the Indian was considered not as an "Indian" but as a man, the equal of any other." The artist's paintings are bright and contrasting, his composition is characterised by a special rhythm, and the images are full of uncanny expression, and, at the same time, a generalized nature. Orozco's method of persuasion and his paintings' main weapon is grotesque.

Famous paintings by José Clemente Orozco: SoldiersGods of the Modern World and Prometheus.

José Clemente Orozco was born in the city Ciudad Guzmán in the Mexican state of Jalisco in the family of a businessman. He got his education in Mexico City, at the National Preparatory School. In the same place, having watched the painters at work, Orozco got into painting and started taking evening lessons at the Academy of San Carlos.
After his father's death, José Orozco attended the Agricultural School, and then studied mathematics and architecture. At the age of 17, experimenting with gunpowder, he injured his eye and left hand. This event adversely affected the character of the future artist, already being quite withdrawn.

In 1908, José left school and returned to painting classes at the Academy of San Carlos. At that time, the creative youth was full of revolutionary spirit. José and other particularly radical students united into a group called "Barbizon": it was a grim cocktail of impressionistic ideas and patriotic spirit. Orozco earned his living by making political and theatrical caricatures.

The artist joined the Syndicate of Revolutionary Painters, Sculptors And Engravers and participated in protest actions.

Orozco's first exhibition in his biography, which included drawings of women, was opened in 1916. Being dedicated to female images, it still wasn't devoid of revolutionary themes and caricatures on politicians’ life. The works didn't produce the expected effect, and the downhearted Orozco went to the United States.

In the U.S., his paintings weren't particularly successful, and the artist had to earn his living by painting dolls' faces at a factory. Upon Orozco's return to Mexico City in 1922, his career was moving uphill. He painted his first big mural on the walls of the National Preparatory School. In 1926 he created a similar artwork at the Industrial School of Orizaba.
Orozco spent the period of 1927-1934 in the United States, where he was engaged not only in wall but also in easel painting.

Owing to the painter’s friends, his artworks became famous in Europe. In the early 1930s Orozco visited Great Britain, Italy, Spain and France, where he became acquainted with the masterpieces of European art. Later the painter created a mural cycle at Dartmouth College, which demonstrated his attitude towards the conquest of Mexico by Spaniards.

In 1934 Orozco created his famous mural Catharsis at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

The biggest of Orozco's murals, covering an area of 1200 m², was painted at the University of Guadalajara.

In 1949 the Orozco Workshop-Museum was opened in Guadalajara.

José Orozco ended his life in Mexico City on September 7, 1949, leaving his mural artwork on the building of the residential complex unfinished.

Author: Liudmila Lebedeva
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