Single-Handed Mastery: JosÃ© Orozco
Several weeks back, reader AMT requested a "Feel Art Again" post featuring Mexican muralist JosÃ© Clemente Orozco (1883-1949). Tomorrow is the 59th anniversary of Orozco's death, so today we'll take a look at his life and his art.
1. While mixing chemicals to make fireworks to sell for Mexican Independence Day in 1904, JosÃ© Orozco injured his left hand and eye. His injuries weren't treated for several days, though, because of the holiday, by which point gangrene had set in. After his hand and wrist were amputated, he abandoned his architectural studies to pursue painting.
2. Orozco had first become interested in painting during his school years, when he would watch the illustrator JosÃ© Guadalupe Posada at work. Posada worked in shop windows, in full view of the public, on the path Orozco took to school. Orozco "would stop and spend a few enchanted minutes in watching;" it was his "awakening to the existence of the art of painting."
3. Orozco spent several years in the U.S. When he arrived in Texas for the first time in 1917, two thirds of his early work was destroyed by customs officials, who declared the works to be of "immoral" character.
4. "The Epic of American Civilization," a twenty-four panel mural that covers approximately 3,200 square feet, was created for Dartmouth College. (The 18th panel, "Modern Human Sacrifice," is shown above.) The project was Orozco's "most ambitious public work" in the U.S., yet despite the size and scope of the mural, he was able to complete it in just two years.
5. While painting a public housing mural in 1949, Orozco suffered heart failure and passed away. He was interred at the Rotunda de Hombres Ilustres, becoming the first painter to receive such an honor. Thirteen years after his death, his autobiography, titled "An Autobiography," was published.
A larger version of "Modern Human Sacrifice" is available here.