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Biography  
Jose Orozco

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Biography from the Archives of askART

Jose Clemente Orozco was born on November 23, 1883 in Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco, Mexico. Orozco's giant murals made him the most powerful of Mexico's Big Three, which included Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros. Orozco's work caught the spirit of Mexico, bloodied and in ruins, emerging from many years of brutal class warfare. He was controversial, considered cold and unemotional, fascist, (he wore a swastika in his buttonhole and admired Hitler), hating anything religious. Yet his wife insisted he was a loving family man.

One of his most famous murals was at Dartmouth College, a commission that he received at the recommendation of Nelson Rockefeller. He needed assistance to prepare the walls because he had lost his left hand in a childhood accident, but he did all the painting himself. He died in Mexico City on September 7, 1949.


Writtten and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Time magazine, October 1, 1965 and February 9, 1959
ARTnews magazine, November 1989


Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Zapotlan, Mexico on Nov. 23, 1883.  Orozco was one of the leading muralists of Mexico.  About 1930 he was commissioned to paint a mural of Prometheus  in Frary Hall at Pomona College in Claremont, CA.  The mural portrays the unification of the working classes.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Ben; NY Times, 19-8-1949 (obit).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.


Biography from Hess Fine Art & Auctions
This biography compiled by Miraga Siciliano, Senior Art Expert for Hess Fine Art and the Jeffrey Hess group:

Social Realist painter Jose Clemente Orozco indulged his works with a taste of reality that he believed would attack, as he stated, "the pestilential shadows of closed rooms".

Born November 23, 1883 in Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco, Orozco became the voice of those "oppressed by the oppressor." He was born in a time when social inequality and revolution was on the lips of the Mexican people.

After his family's move in 1890 to Mexico City, he met Jose Guadalupe Posada. The Young Orozco, enamored by Posada's work, became inspired with aspirations of his own in the artistic realm and would become indebted forever to Posada for being his original muse. He began taking lessons at Academia de San Carlos. Convinced that he could never be adequate enough to pursue art full time, he started his study of Agriculture that lasted for three years. Apparently, not completely thrilled with plants, he returned to the Academia de San Carlos from 1906-1910.

He established a cartoonist job for El Hijo de Ahuizote and was an illustrator for the politically oriented La Vanguardia from 1910 to 1916. That same year, he had revealed his first great painting " The Last Spanish Forces Leaving the Castle of San Juan de Ullua." From that moment on he established himself in Social Realism. Social Realism is described as a "form of naturalistic realism focusing specifically on social problems and the hardships of everyday life." But he has also been categorized with the great Expressionist painters.

Throughout his life he became the patriarch of the socially down trodden. He depicted peasants, social revolution, wars, and women of those wars. On his return from the United States in 1917, he did a painting that celebrated the women soldiers of the Revolution entitled "Soldadera".

His art expanded and he began murals, frescos, and a great many subjects of his contempt. His last great adventure was in 1948 a year before his death. Best described as being accompanied by " Diego Rivera, Frida Kahol, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Gerado Murillo (Dr. Atl.), Juan O'Gorman and other left wing intellectuals staged a raid on the Del Prado Hotel. Their purpose was to restore the words "does not exist" to a Rivera mural, which had been effaced by right wing Catholic students. (The original logo was "God does not exist")"

Jose Clemente Orozco can be best stated as "the most original and powerful painter of murals in Mexico despite being seriously injured as a teenager." His hardest obstacle to overcome was himself. His left hand is said to have been seriously injured (blown off) in an accident involving gunpowder. Yet, what could have been a stumbling block proved to be more inspiration to use the abilities he did possess.

Miraga Siciliano
Curator for Hess Fine Art


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About  Jose Orozco

Born:  1883 - Guzman, Mexico
Died:   1949 - Mexico City, Mexico
Known for:  mural painting