|Biography from Art Cellar Exchange:|
Pablo Esteban O'Higgins was born in Salt Lake
City, Utah in 1904. As a young man O'Higgins began his art
education in San Diego, California. During his time in Southern
California O'Higgins became fascinated with the mural movement that was
taking place in Mexico. His talent for the arts we quickly noticed by
his contemporaries and at the age of 20 he was invited to assist Diego
Rivera on mural projects within Mexico. This move to Mexico began
the artist's permanent residence in the country that would later adopt
him as a citizen.
During Pablo O'Higgins' time as Diego Rivera's
primary assistant on mural projects, the young artist was privy to a
hands-on education of modern Mexican art that proved to be of great
influence for the rest of his life. After assisting on a few
projects, O'Higgins and Rivera parted ways due to political differences
and compounded by O'Higgins' desire to create his own work.
O'Higgins continued to live in Mexico and soon founded the anti-Fascist
Taller de Grafica Popular with Leopoldo Mendez (who was later implicated in the murder of Leon Trotsky.) Taller de Grafica Mexicana
was created by O'Higgins and Mendez as a vehicle by which to promote
the graphic arts and social conscience, to combat racism and to improve
the lives of the underprivileged. The politics of the group were
advertised through the subject matter of murals that O'Higgins created
throughout Mexico as well as in his smaller easel paintings, such as Descansando.
is a quintessential example of work by Pablo Esteban O'Higgins. The
artist painted the people he respected, the ordinary, hard-working campesinos. In Descansando
we see two farm workers resting from the mid-day sun. O'Higgins
sought to capture the dignity and character of Mexico's working and
indigenous people through his art and does just that in this mid-20th
While O'Higgins continued to live in Mexico,
becoming a citizen of Mexico in 1961, he traveled back to the US on a
few occasions. He created two murals in the United States, each in
keeping with his politics. The first, The Struggle Against Racial Discrimination,
was commissioned by the Shipscalers, Drydock and Miscellaneous Boatyard
Workers Union in Seattle in 1945. In the mural, Abraham Lincoln
is shown holding a banner that reads, "Uniting all working people of
all nations," and in another panel, workers gather over a document that
says, "Build a free world. No masters. No slaves.
Workers of the world unite!" The mural has been moved and
restored and is now installed at the University of Washington.
O'Higgins' other mural in the United States, Solidaridad Sindical,
was commissioned by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in
Honolulu, Hawaii. This three-story mural celebrates the
ascendancy of sugar plantation unions to power. Painted in the 1952 and
still on view in the ILWU offices, this mural tells the story of
oppression, struggle and victory of Hawaii's working people and serves
as an inspiration to the ILWU members who improved working conditions
through union representation. Both of these grand works promote
union solidarity and empower the worker.
O'Higgins was the only
non-native Mexican whose work was included in the first large
exhibition of Mexican art in the Unites States, Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art,
which took place at New York's MoMA in 1940. Following this
ground-breaking exhibition, O'Higgins' work was included in major shows
of Mexican art throughout the United States and England. The
artist also received accolades from the Mexican government and was
awarded with a retrospective of his work at El Palacio de Bellas Artes.
His work was positively recognized because of his ability to capture
the character of Mexico's working and indigenous people. The
powerful and emotional lines in his canvases, murals and prints show
the artist's admiration and love for Mexico and her people. In
1983 the artist died in Mexico City. His life was celebrated and
his funeral was organized by El Palacio de Bellas Artes. Pablo O'Higgins is buried in Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
--Gretchen Van Camp
Director, Latin American Painting
Art Cellar Exchange
San Diego, California
|Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:|
|Paul Esteban O'Higgins was born in Salt Lake, City, Utah on March 1, 1904. Pablo O’Higgins (né Paul Higgins Stevenson) moved to San Diego, CA as a child. He began his art studies at the San Diego Art Academy in 1922. During 1924-28 he was in Mexico at the invitation of Diego Rivera who greatly admired his work and while there he joined the Mexican Communist party. A grant made possible for further art study in Moscow, Russia in 1931-32. |
Returning to Mexico City, he co-founded the anti-fascist “Taller de la Grafica Popular.” While working on a mural for the University of Colima, O’Higgins died in Mexico City on July 16, 1983.
Exhibited: Congress of American Artists, 1936; Art Institute of Chicago, 1941, 1943; Salon de la Plastica Mexicana, 1965; Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), 1971.
Murals: School of Zapata (Mexico); Mills College Plaza (Oakland).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1933; Who's Who in American Art 1936-41.
|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.|
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