Jose Clemente Orozco Biography

Jose Clemente Orozco




José Clemente Orozco was born on November 23, 1883 in Zapotlan, Jalisco. His parents, Ireneo Orozco and Rosa Flores were both natives of Jalisco and also descendants of early Spanish settlers. José Clemente Orozco attended public schools in Mexico, and eventually graduated as an expert agriculturist from the National Agricultural School of Mexico in 1900. He was ravished by his educational opportunities, and Orozco attended the National University of Mexico from 1900-1904. There, he specialized in mathematics and also studied architectural drawing in School of Fine Arts. His studies in architecture led him to work as an architectural draftsman for the architect, Carlos Hererra in Mexico City.

Orozco was influenced by Jose Guadalupe Posada, a satirical illustrator who depicted Mexican culture and politics to challenge fellow Mexicans to think differently about post-revolutionary Mexico. Posada's work was placed at local shops, where Orozco would always take a few minutes from his walk to and from school to gaze at his work. Orozco's eyes were open to the art of painting through Posada's work, and Orzoco's paintings visualized the use of color and composition that were greatly inspired by Posada. In 1909, Orozco began his intensive and extensive practice in painting. He began with figure drawing and he made drawings of anatomical studies. In 1915 he had his first one-man exhibition of paintings and drawings in Mexico City.

The 1920s was centralized with mural paintings, and his career took off as he joined two other renown muralist, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siquieros. They became known as the "Big Three" who began the movement of Mexican Muralism. The "Big Three" experimented with Fresco on large walls, and this furthered their success as artists. They're murals were inspired by the revolution, but Orozco was set apart from Rivera in that he was less encouraged to engage in his work the toll of the revolution.

Between 1922-1924, Orozco painted murals: "The Elements", "Man in Battle Against Nature", "Christ Destroys His Cross", "Destruction of the Old Order", and many more at the National Prepartory School in Mexico City. In 1925, he paintd the mural "Omniscience" at Mexico City's House of Tiles, and in 1926, he painted a mural at the Industrial School in Orizaba, Veracruz. He made a move to the United States and stayed from 1927-1934 having painted murals at the New School for Social Research, New York City, and one of his famous murals "The Epic American Civilization" at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire in 1932. After experiencing American taste and culture, he returned to Mexico in 1935 to continue his work as a muralist. He also extended his artistic skills and interest to lithography and ilustration. In 1937 he illustrated for John Steinbeck's book, The Pearl. Orozco painted one of his last murals, "Juarez Reborn" in 1948.

Orozo was married to Margarita Valladares, and he had three children. He died on September 7, 1949 in his hometown, Mexico City.

Source: Alma Reed, "José Clemente Orozco", Hacker Art Books, New York, 1985.