Jose Clemente Orozco 1883-1949
Jose Clemente Orozco
picture from MACG Web
Jose Clemente Orozco was born on November 23, 1883 in Jalisco, Mexico. Like the other two Mexican muralists, Orozco studied art at the San Carlos Academy for Fine Arts in Mexico City. He was greatly influenced by another famous Mexican artist, Jose Posada. He painted like a camera took pictures, clear and detailed. The major art movement that influenced him was Symbolism. During an experiment in school Orozco lost his right hand and partial sight in one of his eyes. He joined the student strikes initiated my the painting students to over throw the strict Director. Orozco was very active politically throughout the revolution and witnessed its horrors first hand. He became a political cartoonist, publishing most of his work in local newspapers.
Orozco could be considered the most complex of the Mexican muralists. He was dedicated to depicting the truth and had a greater sense of realism that Diego Rivera. This is illustrated by his violent displays of conflict and chaos and misery. He realized the enormous gap between social ideals and social realities. He focused on showing personal suffering in a pessimistic, skeptical, yet sympathetic way. Prometheus was painted at Pomona College in California. This was his first mural in the United States. It illustrates Orozco's belief that all the events of history are in a never ending circular sequence. Catharsis shows the never ending cycle of Humanity's self destruction and moral decay in a frightening manor. It explores the theme of man being obsessed the modern advances in technology and machinery.. In front of a firey background, humans are being "sucked into mechanical quicksand".10 Theft is symbolized my an open safe. Murder and prostitution are also shown. Orozco illustrates the power of his painting in a clear depiction of the death soldiers during the revolution in The Trench. The eerie stillness of the soldiers is implicit of the violent movements of war frozen in time. This piece is a realistic portrayal of the war without overriding emotion. Man of Fire is arguably Orozco's greatest achievement. The image is a metaphor for the theme of socal struggle with a combination of the essence of the ideal. Orozco is successful in depicting an accturate account of man's personal suffering without overpowering it with emotion.