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 Francisco Zuniga  (1912 - 1998)

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Lived/Active: Mexico      Known for: genre, figure, muralist, sculptor

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BIOGRAPHY for Francisco Zuniga
Facts/Data
Birth
1912 (San José , Costa Rica)
 
Death
1998 (Mexico City, Mexico)

Lived/Active
Mexico


Subject to Copyright


Often Known For
genre, figure, muralist, sculptor

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following bibliographic information is from Dr. Sophia Vackimes.

Francisco Zúñiga, by Ali Chumacero
Misrachi Editions, México 1969
120 pages
Color & B&W illustrations

2.
Francisco Zúñiga, by Carlos Echeverria
Misrachi Art Gallery Editions, México 1980
318 pages
Color & B&W illustrations
ISBN 968-7047-03-8

3.
Catalogue Raisonne Volume I: Sculpture (1923-1993)
Sinc, S.A. de C.V./Albedrío, México, 1999
638 pages (English/Spanish)
Color & B&W illustrations
ISBN: 970-9027-02-6

4.
Catalogue Raisonne Volume II: Oil paintings, Prints & Reproductions (1927-1986)
Sinc, S.A. de C.V./Albedrío, México, 2003
365 pages (English/Spanish)
Color & B&W illustrations
ISBN: 970-9027-08-5

Catalogue Raisonne Volume III: Drawings (1927-1970)
Sinc, S.A. de C.V./Albedrío, México, 2006
365 pages (English/Spanish)
Color & B&W illustrations
ISBN: 970-9027-10-7

Catalogue Raisonne Volume IV: Drawings (1971-1989)
Sinc, S.A. de C.V./Albedrío, México, 2006
458 pages (English/Spanish)
Color & B&W illustrations
ISBN: 970-9027-11-5


Biography from RoGallery.com:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Internationally acclaimed sculptor and printmaker Francisco Zuñiga was born in Costa Rica.  He studied drawing, stone sculpture, and engraving at the School of Fine Arts in San Jose.  Later, in 1936, he studied stone carving at La Esmeralda in Mexico City.  He was appointed to the faculty of La Esmeralda where he remained until his retirement in 1970.

Zuniga's art reflects a love and respect for Central American people and traditions.  In 1972, he created his first lithograph.  As a complement to his emotionally powerful sculpture, Zuniga's prints articulate the sensitivity and sensuality of the human figure. He has been the recipient of numerous international prizes and awards.  His work is exhibited frequently in prominent galleries throughout the world and may be found in the permanent collections of twenty-nine museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, and the Phoenix Art Museum.

In 1936, Francisco Zuniga left San Jose, Costa Rica, where he had studied drawing at the School of Fine Arts and worked as an assistant in his father's studio, a workshop which produced religious sculpture for the churches and convents in and around the city.  His destination was Mexico City.  It was from there that he would begin an illustrious career as a sculptor and draftsman. Zuñiga's exploration into the nuances of volume, in line and space, are demonstrated in this, the most complete exhibition of his work to be shown in more than a decade.

Mexico City in 1936 was, even then, one of the major art centers of the Americas.  As such it witnessed and participated in many of the frenzied and controversial art movements which reflected the political and intellectual climate of the first three decades of the twentieth century.  Muralism, the graphic arts, the incorporation of in-ternational movements had produced an artistic climate, which would eventually attract to Mexico international artists and intellectuals such as Sergei Eisenstein, André Breton and Antonin Artaud.  Then as now, Mexico City was a major world capital with the infrastructure necessary to exhibit and expose new aesthetic concepts.

For all these reasons it was the most obvious destination of choice for Zuñiga. In Mexico he worked with the painter Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, and would become one of the founders of La Esmeralda, the National School of Painting and Sculpture, teaching there between 1938 and 1970.  Zuniga also fulfilled commissions for numerous public monuments, but between 1960 and 1980, he began to work exclusively on his studio projects.  At the time of his death in 1998, his work would be part of major museum collections internationally.

Zuniga's signature sculptures, massive female figures sculpted in onyx or cast in bronze, emphasize an ongoing exploration of figurative representation in Western Art.

In Juchitecas en Conversación (1985) a standing female figure with crossed arms faces two figures seated on a bench. The figure closest to her rests her hand on a water jug fully facing the first, while the third, body half turned toward the group, gestures toward them with her left arm. The elongated heads and necks are in direct contrast to the full, earthy bodies of all three. In posture and gesture these figures, with their monumental mass and volume, suggest a relationship of community and of union between women, a theme basic to Zuñiga.

Other elements catch the eye: the water jug, the dress. The presence of these elements has often been a reason for categorizing Zuñiga's work as an example of regional representation, i.e. archetypes of indigenous women. Yet in focusing on the posture, gesture and composition in this work and others, Zuñiga is utilizing a juxtaposition of classical sculptural language with indigenous models. You might feel tempted to focus on the appearance of the model, but you should not overlook the stance, the composition, the regal allusion to the classical Western tradition.

This issue becomes even more evident in the pastel and charcoal Dos Mujeres de Pie (1977). Two nudes stand slightly off center from each other and face to face. We see before us the full front and full back view of two women. Full-figured, even corpulent, they are full-hipped with legs and feet firmly planted on the earth.

In Juchitecas en Conversación (1985) a standing female figure with crossed arms faces two figures seated on a bench. The figure closest to her rests her hand on a water jug fully facing the first, while the third, body half turned toward the group, gestures toward them with her left arm. The elongated heads and necks are in direct contrast to the full, earthy bodies of all three. In posture and gesture these figures, with their monumental mass and volume, suggest a relationship of community and of union between women, a theme basic to Zuñiga.

Other elements catch the eye: the water jug, the dress. The presence of these elements has often been a reason for categorizing Zuniga's work as an example of regional representation, i.e. archetypes of indigenous women. Yet in focusing on the posture, gesture and composition in this work and others, Zuñiga is utilizing a juxtaposition of classical sculptural language with indigenous models. You might feel tempted to focus on the appearance of the model, but you should not overlook the stance, the composition, the regal allusion to the classical Western tradition.

This issue becomes even more evident in the pastel and charcoal Dos Mujeres de Pie (1977). Two nudes stand slightly off center from each other and face to face. We see before us the full front and full back view of two women. Full-figured, even corpulent, they are full-hipped with legs and feet firmly planted on the earth.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Francisco Zuniga was born in Costa Rica to the sculptor Manuel Maria Zuniga in 1912. Zuniga first learned sculpture from his father and then at the School of Fine Arts in San Jose before leaving for Mexico City, where he studied at the Escuela de Talla Directa under Guillermo Ruiz and Oliverio Martinez.

It was at the Escuela de Talla Directa that Francisco Zuniga's style began to develop under the tutelage of the sculptor Oliverio Martinez and the painter Manuel Rodriguez Lozano. Incorporating primitive Aztec forms into the classical style Francisco Zuniga had been taught helped to create a regionalized style, one that focused on the bodies and forms of the natives of Central America. Though Francisco Zuniga did create some abstract pieces, the majority of his work is composed of nudes, generally female, of peasant stock. With scrawny or stocky bodies unfamiliar to classical sculpture, Zuniga expanded the intellectual reach of his work by mixing it with regional ethnographic studies of body type and lifestyle.

Though his bronze sculpture continued to evolve throughout his life, Francisco Zuniga expanded his range of mediums throughout his life, modeling in clay and plaster and sculpting in bronze, Carrara marble and alabaster. At the age of sixty Zuniga created his first lithograph, a form that he would work in prolifically for the rest of his life. The prints, in monochrome and color, shared subject matter with his sculpture but allowed him a closer connection to the drawings that served as the basis of both.

Francisco Zuniga drew several notable commissions during his lifetime, including the monumental stone reliefs of the Allegory of Earth and Communications at the Secretaria de Comunicaciones in Mexico City. Francisco Zuniga is also well-represented in major museum collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and Mexico City, the Phoenix Art Museum, Harvard University, Ponce Art Museum and the Hirshhom Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

Biography from Taos Gallery:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Sculptor, painter, and print maker Francisco Zuniga (1912-1998) was born in Costa Rica. He studied drawing, stone sculpture, and engraving at the School of Fine Arts in San Jose. Later, in 1936, he studied stone carving at La Esmeralda in Mexico City. He was appointed to the faculty of La Esmeralda where he remained until his retirement in 1970.

Zuniga's art reflects a love and respect for Central American people and traditions. In 1972, he created his first lithograph. As a complement to his emotionally powerful sculpture, Zunigas's paintings are intended to articulate the sensitivity and sensuality of the human figure.

He has been the recipient of numerous international prizes and awards. His work is exhibited throughout the world. His work can be found in the permanent collections of twenty-nine musems, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Biography from Butler Institute of American Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Mexican sculptor, printmaker, draughtsman and teacher of Costa Rican birth, Francisco Zuniga studied sculpture under his father, Manuel María Zúñiga, in San José, Costa Rica, and after his arrival in Mexico City in 1936 at the Escuela de Talla Directa under the direction of Guillermo Ruíz (1895–1964) and Oliverio Martínez.

Martínez, together with the painter Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, helped motivate his concept of form.  Other lasting influences came from his encounter with Aztec sculpture and from the work of other sculptors, such as Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol and even Henry Moore, whose work, like his, was based primarily on the human body.  Throughout his career Zúñiga was especially devoted to the female form, naked or clothed.

The monumental character of Zúñiga’s sculpture is evident not only in public commissioned works, such as the stone reliefs of the Allegory of the Earth and Communications (1953–4) at the Secretaría de Comunicaciones in Mexico City, but also in sculptures conceived for more private and intimate settings, for example Seated Woman from Juchitán (bronze, 1974; Washington, DC, Hirshhorn).

In 1959, in works such as Standing Women (bronze; Mexico City, Mus. A. Mod.), he moved from the non-academic naturalism of his early style, which was still linked to the 19th century, to a more realistic idiom, taking as his models the indigenous women of southeastern Mexico, whom he represented standing or seated, singly, in pairs or in a group.  They are women with large bodies, both heavily built and scrawny, all seemingly caught in a violent transition from youth to old age.  They inhabit a dramatic silence in which there is no communication, and occasionally they appear with the ancestral dignity of their race, as in Woman from Yalalag (bronze, 1975; Monclova, Bib. Pape).  Only in exceptional cases do men appear.

He availed himself of a variety of methods and materials, modelling in clay and plaster and also working in Carrara marble, alabaster and other kinds of stone; his preferred medium was cast bronze.

Drawing served Zúñiga as an essential basis for his sculpture and for his prolific production as a lithographer.  His prints, some printed in black and others in colour, presented the same subject-matter as his sculptures, with an equivalent emphasis on the volumetric treatment of female figures.  Zúñiga, who as a teacher trained many outstanding Mexican sculptors, became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1986.

Biography from Artistic Gallery:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The common people of Mexico and their endurance are the inspiration for Francisco Zuniga's art.  This celebration of the human spirit is most often expressed in sculpture, drawings, and lithographs of women as timeless and stoic earth mothers.

Zuniga's women have the startling presence of ancient goddesses disguised in the situations of daily life and motherhood.  They are staunch and monumental females, madonnas with Indian feature, ,solemnly poised. As a young boy Zuniga worked for his father, who was a carver of religious statues. He began formal art studies in his native Costa Rica, but in 1935 at the age of 23, he left for Mexico, where he lived ever since.  While working as an assistant in several sculpture workshops, he discovered the magic world of pre-Hispanic art at the old Museum of Archeology in Mexico City. This, along with a lifelong interest in such modern European masters as Brancusi, Giacometti and Henry Moore were contributors to his style.

Of his style, Zuniga says, "I begin with an emotion, an attitude, a movement caught by chance, a woman wrapped in thought, sitting, walking, or perhaps leading a child. Long famous in Latin America, Zuniga's art is being enthusiastically received throughout the world..

He is represented in numerous prestigious public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico; the Phoenix Art Museum; Harvard University; Ponce Art Museum, Puerto Rico; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C..as well as the Museum of Art in New York City


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