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Egas, Camilo free

(b Quito, 1889; d New York, Sept 18, 1962).
  • Alexandra Kennedy

Camilo Egas: Ecuadorian Festival, mural, 2.438 × 5.055 m, 1932 (New York, The New School Art Collection); image courtesy of the New School for Social Research

Ecuadorean painter and teacher, active in the USA. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes, Quito (1904–11), and received a government grant to study at the Regia Scuola di Belle Arti in Rome (1911–14) and at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid in 1920. His ideology and aesthetic of this period relate him to Spanish modernismo. The more monumental style used in Procession (1922; Quito, Mus. Camilo Egas Banco Cent.) marks a transition before his years in Paris. In 1923 he attended the Académie Colarrosi, exhibiting between 1924 and 1925 at the Salon des Indépendents and at the Salon d’Automne. He returned to Ecuador between 1925 and 1927 and played a pivotal role in forming the Indigenist movement. The theme of the Indian in his work was related to the rise of Socialism, national indigenous movements and the constitution of Marxist parties in Latin America. He founded Ecuador’s first art periodical, Helice, in 1926. In 1927 he settled in New York and consecutively assimilated various styles: firstly social realism (e.g. Street 14, 1937; Quito, Mus. A. Mod.); then Surrealism, neo-Cubism and finally Abstract Expressionism. In the 1930s, his work included two murals, Harvesting Food in Ecuador: No Profit Motif in Any Face or Figure and Harvesting Food in North America (New York, New Sch. Soc. Res). He taught from 1932 and was the first director of art of the New School for Social Research, New York. The Museo Camilo Egas in Quito was inaugurated in 1981 with a permanent exhibition of his work, now closed. The collection belongs to the Banco Central del Ecuador, and some pieces are exhibited at the Museo Nacional del Banco Central, Quito.


  • Historia del Arte Ecuatoriano, 4 (Quito, 1977), pp. 44–52
  • Camilo Egas (exh. cat., Quito, Mus. Camilo Egas Banco Cent., 1978)
  • M. Monteforte: Los Signos del hombre (Quito, 1985), pp. 251–2
  • M. Trinidad Pérez: The Indian in the 1920s Painting of the Ecuadorian Painter Camilo Egas (MA thesis, Austin, U. TX, 1987)
  • T. Pérez: ‘La apropiación de lo indígena popular en el arte ecuatoriano del primer cuarto de siglo: Camilo Egas (1915–1923)’, Artes académicas y populares del Ecuador, ed. A. Kennedy (Quito, 1995), pp. 143–74