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Article

José Miguel Rojas

(b San José, June 1, 1907; d 1998).

Costa Rican engraver, painter, illustrator, draughtsman, writer and critic. He studied for a year from 1931 at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes but was otherwise initially self-taught, using Louis Gonse’s L’Art japonais (Paris, 1883) as a source. He produced a series of caricature drawings, influenced by Cubism, in the Album de dibujos de 1926. During 1929 he met the sculptors Juan Manuel Sánchez and Francisco Zúñiga (the latter was also a printmaker), and through his interest in German and Mexican Expressionist printmakers, he developed a passion for wood-engraving. His first wood-engravings were published in the periodical Repertorio Americano (1929). He went on to contribute wood-engravings and drawings to collections of short stories and poetry, educational books, periodicals and newspapers. In 1931 he taught drawing and wood-engraving at the Escuela Normal in Heredia. He exhibited at the Salones Anuales de Artes Plásticas in San José (1931–6...

Article

Esther Acevedo

(b Mexico City, Nov 22, 1904; d Mexico City, Feb 4, 1957).

Mexican illustrator and writer. Covarrubias was born to a middle-class family who valued the arts and literature. By the time he was 14 he dropped out of school and became active in sending caricatures to different newspapers. He worked also for the communications office as a map draftsman where he met Antonio Ruiz and developed an ability for drawing maps, a skill later very useful for his artistic and anthropological projects. He illustrated in 1922 for the Secretariat of Education an emblematic Mexican cultural product: Adolfo Best Maugard’s drawing method (Método de dibujo: tradición, resurgimiento y evolución del arte mexicano) which consisted of seven elements of form identified in Pre-Columbian art and its many possible combinations with the intention of changing notions of design and decoration in the making of artistic products that would give way to a new Mexican artistic identity. This first approach to decorative motifs would train Covarrubias in the keen observation of form and later on would be of much use as he began an ambitious project connecting the original cultures of the Americas with style relationships coming from China and the South Pacific....

Article

Henry Adams

(b Veracruz, Mar 13, 1880; d Stamford, CT, Jan 10, 1961).

Mexican illustrator, writer, gallery owner, and publisher, active in the USA. He was the son of a wealthy Mexican lawyer and publisher. De Zayas started his career as an artist by providing drawings for his father’s newspaper in Veracruz. In 1906 he moved on to Mexico City’s leading newspaper, El Diario, but a year later, after the ascension of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, whom the newspaper had opposed, he fled to the USA. There he landed a position making caricatures for the New York Evening World. Shortly after his arrival in the USA, he came into contact with Alfred Stieglitz, who staged solo shows of De Zayas’s caricatures at his gallery Gallery 291 in 1909 and 1910, both of which proved to be huge popular successes.

In 1910 De Zayas traveled to Paris, where he stayed almost a year, scouting out adventurous forms of modern art for Stieglitz, notably the cubist work of Picasso and African sculpture. On his return, equipped with knowledge of European modern art and inspired by the work of the French modernist ...

Article

Stephen Bann

(b Nassau, Bahamas, Oct 28, 1925; d Dunsyre, Scotland, March 27, 2006).

Scottish sculptor, graphic artist and poet. Brought up in Scotland, he briefly attended Glasgow School of Art and first made his reputation as a writer, publishing short stories and plays in the 1950s. In 1961 he founded the Wild Hawthorn Press with Jessie McGuffie and within a few years had established himself internationally as Britain’s foremost concrete poet (see Concrete poetry). His publications also played an important role in the initial dissemination of his work as a visual artist. As a sculptor, he has worked collaboratively in a wide range of materials, having his designs executed as stone-carvings, as constructed objects and even in the form of neon lighting.

In 1966 Finlay and his wife, Sue, moved to the hillside farm of Stonypath, south-west of Edinburgh, and began to transform the surrounding acres into a unique garden, which he named Little Sparta. He revived the traditional notion of the poet’s garden, arranging ponds, trees and vegetation to provide a responsive environment for sundials, inscriptions, columns and garden temples. As the proponent of a rigorous classicism and as the defender of Little Sparta against the intrusions of local bureaucracy, he insisted on the role of the artist as a moralist who comments sharply on cultural affairs. The esteem won by Finlay’s artistic stance and style is attested by many important large-scale projects undertaken throughout the world. The ‘Sacred Grove’, created between ...

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Buenos Aires, Jan 14, 1915; d Barcelona, Oct 14, 1965).

Argentine painter, sculptor, performance artist, conceptual artist, poet, and illustrator. After studying in Buenos Aires at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and with Cecilia Marcovich and Tomás Maldonado, he quickly established a reputation for his scandalous views, attracting extreme disapproval and equally strong support. After delivering a lecture at the Juan Cristóbal bookshop, Buenos Aires, entitled “Alberto Greco y los pájaros” he was briefly imprisoned for his “Communism and subversive acts.” On his release in the same year he travelled to Paris on a French government grant, selling drawings and watercolors in the cafés and studying painting with Fernand Léger and printmaking with Johnny Friedlaender. Between 1956 and 1958 he lived in São Paulo, where he became aware of Art informel; he painted in this style in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Glusberg 1985, 284–285).

As early as 1959, when he had returned from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, Greco had expressed his corrosive vision of society through the form of his work. In his shows he exhibited tree trunks and rags for cleaning window gratings or floors. He moved again to Paris in ...

Article

Margarita González Arredondo

(b Mexico City, Aug 26, 1896; d Mexico City, Jan 28, 1971).

Mexican painter, stage designer, illustrator, and writer. He studied in Mexico City at the Escuela al Aire Libre de Coyoacán and at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, before living in Paris from 1922 to 1930, where he trained as a stage designer from 1928 to 1930 in the studio of Charles Dullin. In Paris he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and became aware of Surrealism; he was one of the first artists to introduce the style to Mexico. In his characteristic small-scale oil paintings, such as Children with Cage (Mexico City, Mus. N. A.), in which two girls are silhouetted in front of a curtain, he combined neo-Impressionist brushwork and a highly theatrical handling of light with absurd elements. He abandoned his career as a painter at an early age, concentrating in the 1930s and 1940s on designing for the stage as well as making his name as a critic and playwright....

Article

Ana Tapias

revised by Susanna Temkin

(b Memel [now Klaipéda], Jun 9, 1914; d Caracas, Jan 22, 1998).

Venezuelan graphic designer, printmaker, painter, photographer, sculptor, museum curator, and teacher of Lithuanian birth. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hannover, at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Mainz, and, after briefly completing his obligatory military service, at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich with typographer Fritz H. Ehmcke (1878–1965). He moved to Venezuela in 1951, becoming a citizen in 1954. He is acknowledged for his contributions to the Venezuelan postwar art scene and, in particular, to the field of graphic design.

In Venezuela he briefly worked for the Grant Advertising company, and later as Director of Art of McCann Erickson, taking over the position from Carlos Cruz-Diez. In 1952 he met the artist Gego, who became his life partner and with whom he collaborated on projects at the Centro Comercial Cediaz (1967) and the Instituto de Cooperación Educativa (INCE) (1968). From 1957 to 1959 he was art director of the magazine ...

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Apr 24, 1922).

Argentine painter, graphic designer, teacher, and theorist. He studied at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires from 1938. In 1944 he was a co-founder of the Argentine avant-garde review Arturo, which was concerned with both art and literature and led to the formation in 1945 of the Asociación arte concreto invención, of which he was also one of the main instigators. In 1948 he traveled to Europe, where he came into contact with Max Bill and other Swiss Constructivists, whose example inspired him both as a painter and as a theorist on his return to Argentina. Blue with Structure and A Form and Series (both 1950, Buenos Aires, Mus. A. Mod.) are typical of a rigorous type of painting with which he became identified. He stressed the application of such ideas, moreover, not only to art but also to social and political concerns, seeking nothing less than the transformation of the physical environment in which we live. Such convictions gave coherence to all his activities from that time on, including his co-founding in ...

Article

Jorge Luján-Muñoz

(b Chicacao, Suchitepéquez, May 7, 1937; d 2004).

Guatemalan painter, sculptor, illustrator, and writer. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City between 1953 and 1960 and was inspired by his rural, working-class background to depict the themes, forms, and colour of the life of the Guatemalan common people. In the mid-1960s, together with Roberto Cabrera and Elmar Rojas, he founded the Vértebra group. His paintings, mainly in oils, tended towards the flashy and experimented with varied textures. Subsequently he showed a preference for bright, dazzling colours based on the designs of Guatemalan fabrics. Ironic and highly expressive, his form of realism became increasingly simple and effective, while continuing to stress its origins in popular culture. Bird of Powder (1961), The Jet (1963), and Rebel Angel (1967; all Guatemala City, Dir. Gen. Cult. & B. A.) are typical of his style. He has also worked successfully on book illustrations and excelled as a short-story writer, with several literary prizes to his credit....

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Oct 1, 1927; d Aug 1, 2001).

Argentine painter, graphic designer, teacher, and critic. After studying in Japan from 1935 to 1951 he returned to Argentina, remaining there until his move to New York in 1963. His paintings from 1952 were in the style of Art informel, with a calligraphic emphasis demonstrating his sympathy with oriental art, but around 1960 he moved towards a more gestural abstraction in works such as Painting No. 20 (1961; Buenos Aires, Mus. A. Mod.), using thicker paint and more subdued colors.

In 1964 Sakai began to use more geometric shapes in his pictures, and he continued to do so on moving in 1965 to Mexico, where he remained until 1977. His example opened the way to geometric abstraction in Mexico, where there was no real tradition of such work. In 1976, shortly before returning to New York, he began a series of paintings using the formal repetition of parallel undulating lines of strongly contrasting color. From ...