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The Art Story Homepage Artists José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco Photo

José Clemente Orozco

Mexican Cartoonist, Printmaker, Painter, and Muralist

Movements and Styles: Mexican Muralism, Social Realism

Born: November 23, 1883 - Zapotlán (now Cuidad Guzmán), Mexico

Died: September 7, 1949 - Mexico City, Mexico

José Clemente Orozco Timeline

"Painting assails the mind, it persuades the heart"

Jose Clemente Orozco Signature

Summary

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.

Key Ideas

Along with Rivera and Siqueiros, Orozco revived the tradition of Italian Renaissance fresco painting via the large-scale murals meant to engage a wider viewership. The goal was to create a more democratic art form; that is, to make their art - its post-Mexican Revolution, nationalistic themes - accessible to people from all social strata.
Orozco worked as an editorial cartoonist for two radical political magazines His subsequent murals functioned as massive, and at least semi-public, critiques much in the way a political cartoon in a newspaper or pamphlet potentially engages with a wide audience through broad distribution.
Like Rivera, Orozco received commissions to produce murals in the United States. His avant-garde, expressionist style combined with the Mexican Muralists' revival of Social Realism, influenced American artists as diverse as Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston, Ben Shahn and Jacob Lawrence.
José Clemente Orozco Photo

Orozco, one of four brothers, spent his first years in the southwestern region of Jalisco, Mexico. His father had a soap, ink, and coloring factory in addition to being an editor for the newspaper, La Abeja. His mother was a housewife who occasionally gave the women of the community painting classes. The family moved first to Guadalajara and then Mexico City in the hopes of improving their financial situation. Despite their efforts, however, the times were not easy for middle-class families and it was often difficult for the family to make ends meet.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
José Clemente Orozco
Interactive chart with José Clemente Orozco's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Artists

Francisco GoyaFrancisco Goya
El GrecoEl Greco
GiottoGiotto
MichelangeloMichelangelo

Personal Contacts

Gerardo MurilloGerardo Murillo

Movements

CubismCubism
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco
Years Worked: 1922 - 1949
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Philip GustonPhilip Guston
Reuben KadishReuben Kadish
Charles WhiteCharles White

Personal Contacts

Diego RiveraDiego Rivera
David Alfaro SiqueirosDavid Alfaro Siqueiros

Movements

Mexican MuralismMexican Muralism
ExpressionismExpressionism

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 11 Jul 2016. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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