Monday, April 14, 2014

Orozco, Jose Clemente

oil on canvas
114.3 x 139.7 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA

In the late 1920s and 1930s Mexico's most famous muralists, Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros - known as The Big Three - spent significant time living and working in the United States. Although their styles differed dramatically, the slain revolutionary peasant leader Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919) figures prominently in their work. Unlike Rivera, who always took a celebratory approach in representing Zapata and his supporters, in this painting Orozco depicts a somber moment in the Mexican Revolution (started in 1910, lasted until 1920s)  as Zapatistas - the slain revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata's peasant followers - march to their deaths. "I don't trust revolutions or glorify them, since I witnessed too much butchery," Orozco later remarked, referring to his experience in the Revolution.

"Painting assails the mind. It persuades the heart." (Orozco)

Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) 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. He 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.

He painted like a camera took pictures, clear and detailed. He created impressive, realistic paintings. During an experiment in school, he lost his right hand and partial sight in one of his eyes. He joined the student strikes initiated by the painting students to over throw the strict Director. He was very active politically throughout the revolution and witnessed its horrors first hand. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers.