Orozco, Jose

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

José Orozco was a Mexican artist who painted dramatic murals of mythological and historical subjects. Orozco was part of a movement of Mexican muralists who strove to portray the native culture of Mexico. They believed the native culture had been overlooked during 400 years of European domination.

José Clemente Orozco was born on November 23, 1883, in Zapotlán, Mexico. As a young man, he studied at the Academy of San Carlos, a noted art school in Mexico City. He also drew political cartoons in support of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. His paintings reflect this early interest in cartooning. They have strong lines and expressive gestures.

Orozco's first murals were completed in 1923 on the walls of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. They portray revolutionary themes. In 1927 he was invited to paint in the United States. At Pomona College in Claremont, California (1930-31), he painted a huge image of Prometheus, the Greek god of fire. He also created a series of paintings depicting the history of the Americas at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (1932-34).

Orozco returned to Mexico in 1934. Between 1936 and 1939, he painted some of his greatest murals, at the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara. He covered the walls of this building with images showing the harsh and cruel lives of the ancient Aztecs and their Spanish conquerors.

Orozco died in Mexico City on September 7, 1949. His works inspired abstract expressionists in the 1950's and political muralists in the 1960's.

Linda Bank Downs
Director, Davenport (Iowa) Museum of Art

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