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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

Quotes

"Painting in its higher form and painting as a minor folk art differ essentially in this: the former has invariable universal traditions from which no one can separate himself [...] the latter has purely local traditions." [As opposed to Rivera and Siqueiros' view].
José Clemente Orozco
"[Murals] cannot be hidden away for the benefit of the privileged few."
José Clemente Orozco
"A painting is a poem and nothing else."
José Clemente Orozco
"The mural is the highest, most rational, purest, and most powerful form of painting [....] It is also the most disinterested form since it can neither be turned into a source of private profit nor hidden away for the enjoyment of a privileged few. It is for the people. For everybody."
José Clemente Orozco
"All aesthetics, of whatever kind, are a movement forward and not backward... An artwork is never negative. By the very fact of being an artwork, it is constructive."
José Clemente Orozco
"In every painting, as in any other work of art, there is always an idea, never a story. The idea is the point of departure, the first cause of the plastic construction, and it is present all the time as energy-creating matter."
José Clemente Orozco
"José Clemente Orozco, along with the popular engraver, Jose Guadalupe Posada, is the greatest artist, whose work expresses genuinely the character and the spirit of the people of the City of Mexico. [...] Profoundly sensual, cruel, moralistic, and rancorous as a good, semi-blond descendent of Spaniards, he has the force and mentality of a servant of the Holy Office [...] in all his work one feels the simultaneous presence of love, of pain and of death."
Diego Rivera
"Artists don't have any 'political convictions' of any kind. And if they believe they have them, they are not artists."
José Clemente Orozco
[On his life] "There is nothing of special interest in it, no famous exploits or heroic deeds, no extraordinary or miraculous happenings. Only the uninterrupted and tremendous effort of a Mexican painter to learn his trade and find opportunities to practice it."
José Clemente Orozco

"Painting assails the mind, it persuades the heart"

José Clemente Orozco Signature

Synopsis

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.

Biography

José Clemente Orozco Photo

Childhood and Education

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.

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José Clemente Orozco Biography Continues

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.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Francisco GoyaFrancisco Goya
El GrecoEl Greco
GiottoGiotto
MichelangeloMichelangelo

Personal Contacts

Gerardo MurilloGerardo Murillo

Movements

CubismCubism

Influences on Artist
José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco
Years Worked: 1922 - 1949
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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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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