Ad Code: 3
An example of work by Manuel Gregorio Acosta
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Manuel Acosta settled in El Paso, Texas where he became a painter, muralist, sculptor and illustrator. He studied at the University of Texas at El Paso and at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He was also an apprentice to painter Peter Hurd in 1952 on a mural project about pioneer Texas, and the mural is located at the West Texas Museum in Lubbock.|
Working in oil, watercolor, clay, and fresco, Acosta exhibited widely including the Texas Water Color Society, the American Water Color Society, the Chase Gallery in New York and Art USA in Missouri in 1958.
Illustrations include a portrait of Cesar Chavez for the cover of "Time Magazine" in 1969.
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
|Biography from ARTexas:|
|Manuel Acosta, painter, sculptor, and illustrator, was born on May 9,
1921, in Aldama, Chihuahua, Mexico, the son of Ramón P. and Concepción
Sánchez Acosta. The family moved in 1924 to El Paso, where a
daughter and five more sons were born. Acosta grew up in various
barrios of southern El Paso and graduated from Bowie High School in
1941. As a child he copied illustrations in newspaper
advertisements and later sketched pin-up girls. He continued to
sketch and paint while serving in the United States Air Force during
World War II and decided to become an artist after seeing the work of
Francisco de Goya and other masters while on tour in Europe.|
After his discharge, Acosta became an American citizen. In the
fall of 1946, he attended the College of Mines and Metallurgy (now the
University of Texas at El Paso), where he studied drawing and sculpture
under sculptor Urbici Soler. He then studied for a year at the
Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and six months at the University
of California, Santa Barbara, before returning to El Paso, where he
established a home and studio and resumed his studies at Texas Western
During this period Soler introduced Acosta to Peter Hurd, whom Acosta
assisted in painting murals for the Prudential Insurance Company in
Houston and the pioneer murals at the Museum of Texas Tech University
in Lubbock. Hurd encouraged Acosta to use his Mexican-American
heritage in his work, and the people and scenes in El Paso's barrios
subsequently became Acosta's primary subject matter.
Acosta's talents began to be recognized in the mid-1950s, when he was
commissioned to paint murals at the Casa Blanca Motel in Logan, New
Mexico; the First National Bank in Las Cruces, New Mexico; and the Bank
of Texas in Houston. He began exhibiting his work by participating in
the Art U.S.A. exhibition in Missouri (1958), the Texas Watercolor
Society exhibition (1960), the American Watercolor Society exhibition
in New York City (1965), and the Hurd-Wyeth Family Group show in
Roswell, New Mexico (1965).
His first solo exhibition was mounted by the Chase Gallery, New York
City, in 1962. His work was also exhibited at the Dallas Museum of
Art,qv the Diamond M Foundation Museum in Snyder, the Chihuahua Art
Museum in Mexico, and museums and galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico,
Lubbock, Texas, Scottsdale, Arizona, Santa Barbara, California, Tucson,
Arizona, and Juárez, Chihuahua. The El Paso Museum of Art mounted
a solo exhibition of his work in 1974, and in 1984 his work was
included in a touring exhibition of watercolors sponsored by the
Burlington Foundation. Acosta served as an advisor to the Texas
Commission on the Arts and Humanities during the 1970s.
He painted the people and scenes of El Paso's barrios in a realistic
style enlivened by lush colors and, in some works, a dramatic
chiaroscuro effect. He worked primarily in oils, though he was
fluent in such other media as watercolor, charcoal, casein, and
tempera. He also sculpted some works in bronze. Acosta
painted series of bullfighters, children, floral arrangements, and
allegorical works based on popular songs of the Mexican
Revolution. Perhaps his most successful works were his
self-portraits and portraits of elderly Mexican-American women. In his
painting of Doña Maria Caldera, for example, he conveyed the subject's
dignity, humble character, and a life of hard work by focusing not only
on her face, but also on her hands, which he described as the "question
mark, the exclamation point to the person."
Acosta's paintings of El Paso's Mexican Americans won new appreciation
and recognition during the Chicanoqv movement of the mid-1960s and
early 1970s. He painted a portrait of César Chávez for a 1969 Time magazine cover, and in 1971 illustrated Canto y Grito Mi Liberación, a book of poems and prose by Chicano activist Ricardo Sánchez. Acosta's painting A Chicano-Portrait of Gonzalo Gómez,
on the cover of Sánchez's book, provides another example of his skill
as a portraitist. The book also depicted people being beaten,
Brown Berets, children playing in tenement hallways, and the humble
dwellings in El Paso's barrios.
In the early 1970s Acosta was forced to move from his studio home to
make way for a new highway. With the help of his family and
friends he built a large stucco and adobe studio at his new home at 366
Buena Vista, which became the site for theatrical and musical
performances as well as art activities.
Although not an activist, Acosta supported the Chicano movement with
his art and by making his studio available for political rallies and
fund-raisers. He was murdered in his home on October 25, 1989, by
Cesar Nájera Flores, a Mexican national.
His work is represented in a number of public and private collections
throughout the United States, including the National Portrait Gallery,
Washington; the El Paso Museum of Art; the Museum of Texas Tech
University, Lubbock; the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Harmsen's
Western Collection, Colorado; and the Time, Incorporated, collection,
New York City.
"Acosta, A Man and His Art," Nosotros (El Paso, Texas), September 1972.
Manuel Acosta, Interview by John H. McNeely, 1973, Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.
Dallas Morning News, October 27, 1989.
El Paso Times, October 31, 1989.
Dorothy Harmsen, Harmsen's Western Americana: A Collection of One Hundred Western Paintings with Biographical Profiles of the Artists (Flagstaff, Arizona: Northland Press, 1971). Salvador Valdez, "The Roots of Awareness," Nosotros, February 1, 1971.
by Kendall Curlee, The Handbook of Texas Online, a joint project of The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Historical Association.
|** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.|