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Article

Giulio V. Blanc

(b San Antonio de los Baños, nr Güines, 1889; d Havana, 1965).

Cuban painter and caricaturist. He graduated from the Academia de S Alejandro in Havana in 1920 and lived in Paris from 1927 to 1929. There he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and abandoned academicism, developing a modernist ‘Cuban’ style, in which folkloric scenes of peasant life were depicted in a colourful, energetic, pseudo-naive manner reminiscent of Jules Pascin and Amedeo Modigliani. An outstanding work of this period is Triumph of the Rumba (c. 1928; Havana, Mus. N. B.A.). After a trip to Italy in the early 1930s, Abela began to paint canvases such as Guajiros (‘Peasants’; 1938; Havana, Mus. N. B.A.), in which the Classical sobriety and order is the result of his contact with Italian medieval and Renaissance art. His style underwent a radical change in the early 1950s, and from this time until his death he painted small works that recall in their use of fantasy the drawings of children as well as the works of Marc Chagall....

Article

David Boxer

(b St Andrew, May 14, 1911; d Kingston, Apr 10, 2005).

Jamaican painter. He began his career as a cartoonist for various local periodicals. In 1937 Augustus John, then working in Jamaica, encouraged him to begin painting. Unlike the majority of his contemporaries, he eschewed the “official” classes of the Institute of Jamaica and virtually taught himself to paint through self-study courses and manuals and by copying masterpieces from art books. His cartoonist’s wit and a sardonic humor became the most important ingredients in work that drew on numerous stylistic sources, from Renaissance painting to Cubism. He was a devout Christian, and produced a host of religious works of an undeniable sincerity, although he transformed many traditional Christian themes into witty contemporary parables. His Last Supper (1955; Kingston, N.G.) is the best known of these. Some of his finest work consists of ironic transformations of the great mythological themes of the past and intensely personal fantasies based on contemporary events. He was also one of the few painters to treat successfully historical Jamaican subjects, for example in paintings of the imagined daily lives of the extinct Arawaks, the landing of Columbus, and a series depicting the riotous living of 17th-century buccaneers in Port Royal. His ...

Article

María Antonia González-Arnal

(b Turmero, nr Maracay, Aug 22, 1919; d Caracas, Feb 20, 1993).

Venezuelan painter and sculptor. From 1943 to 1947 he studied drawing and painting in the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas, Caracas. He was a founder-member of the Taller Libre de Arte, taking part in its activities from 1949 to 1952. His paintings, always within a figurative framework, are marked by a pursuit of the magical and of indigenous roots. In his early work he was interested in the themes of roosters and flowers, using the surrounding environment as a source of inspiration. He expressed human, animal and vegetable existence in strong, warm colours (e.g. The Rooster, 1951; Caracas, Gal. A. N.). In 1952 Abreu moved to Europe, visiting Spain and Italy and living in Paris until 1962, when he returned to Venezuela. In Europe his contact with the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and with Surrealism produced a profound transformation in his work. He created his first Magical Objects...

Article

Jorge Luján-Muñoz

(b Guatemala, Jan 7, 1933).

Guatemalan painter and printmaker. From 1954 to 1957 he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City while researching folk art for the Dirección de Bellas Artes, but he was virtually self-taught and began as a draughtsman and painter of bullfighting scenes. In 1958 he travelled to New York on a Guatemalan government grant, prolonging his stay there with further grants, studying at the Arts Students League and Graphic Art Center, and finally settling there permanently. He was influential in Guatemala until c. 1960, but because of his long residence abroad his work did not fit easily in the context of Central American art. Before leaving Guatemala he had painted landscapes and nudes in a naturalistic style, but he soon adopted a more modern idiom partly inspired by aboriginal Guatemalan subjects. After moving to New York, and especially from 1958 to 1961, his art underwent a profound transformation as he sought to bring together elements of abstract art and Surrealism and experimented with textures, for example in cross-hatched pen-and-ink drawings such as ...

Article

Julieta Ortiz Gaitán

(b Mexico City, Sept 24, 1931).

Mexican painter. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Escultura ‘La Esmeralda’ under Enrique Assad Lara and Carlos Orozco Romero. His work reflects a concern for the negative effects of industrialization and modernization on cities and displays a nostalgia for more humane urban conditions. His large-scale paintings, for example the Boots of the Gran Solar (oil on canvas, 1.60×1.80 m, 1982; artist’s col.), convey a sense of urgency through the use of light and colour, with broad lines and chromatic tones creating dynamic forms that show the influence of Abstract Expressionism.

Siete pintores contemporáneos: Gilberto Aceves Navarro, Luis López Loza, Rodolfo Nieto, Brian Nissen, Tomás Parra, Vlady, Roger von Gunten (exh. cat., Mexico City, Pal. B.A., 1977)R. Tibol: Aceves Navarro, Durero y las variaciones (Mexico City, 1978)M. Idalia: ‘Más libertad y menos barroquismo en la nueva pintura de Aceves Navarro’ [Greater freedom and less extravagance in the new painting of Aceves Navarro], ...

Article

Roberto Pontual

(b Vercelli, Italy, 1843; d Rio de Janeiro, 1910).

Brazilian caricaturist and painter. He came to Brazil in 1859, having already acquired some knowledge of painting in Paris. He settled initially in São Paulo, where he at once started to publish caricatures attacking black slavery. There, in 1864, he was one of the founders of the comic newspaper O Diabo Coxo. His abolitionist spirit continued after he moved to Rio de Janeiro, through his frequent collaboration in periodicals such as A Vida Fluminense, O Mosquito, Don Quixote and O Malho. In the Revista Ilustrada he began to publish in 1884 the first long-running strip cartoon in Brazil, the adventures of Zé Caipora, a sertão (hinterland) character, depicting a lesser-known side of Brazil. As a painter he specialized in landscapes but also produced portraits with the same fervour that fired his enjoyable and impassioned satirical drawings, for example Portrait of the Writer Joaquin Augusto Ribeiro de Sousa (c. 1890...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Panama City, Nov 6, 1943).

Panamanian painter. He studied painting from 1960 to 1962 at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Panama City and from 1964 to 1970 at the Universidad Autónoma, Mexico. From 1971 he taught at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Panama City, of which he was director from 1980 to 1982. Under the influence of Pop art he produced semi-abstract paintings that combined geometric shapes and lines with sensuous parts of human anatomy painted with an airbrush and set in vaporous spaces of flowing colors. A typical example is Profiles of Attraction (1976; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.). In later works such as Attack II (1987; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.) he added expressionist brushstrokes for visual contrast.

Gasteazoro, M. Homenaje. Panama City, Gal. Etcétera, 1982. Exhibition catalog.Oviero, R. “Luis Aguilar Ponce: Ahora mi pintura se une a la humanidad.” La Prensa [Panama City] (Oct 19, 1984): 1B....

Article

Lelia Delgado

(b Barcelona, Venezuela, April 22, 1907; d Oct 13, 1976).

Venezuelan painter. He was self-taught and painted his first portraits and self-portraits c. 1930. In 1965 his first exhibition was held at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. His paintings, which later included nudes, possess a very particular atmosphere, developing from a small focal point, to which successive layers of paper or card are added, creating the effect of a collage; heavily and energetically worked, the works are small scale, which lends a further intensity to their expressiveness. Aguilera Silva had exhibitions throughout Venezuela, and examples of his work are held in the Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas....

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Federal, Entre Ríos, Aug 22, 1928; d Buenos Aires, Feb 19, 1996).

Argentine painter, draughtsman and collagist. He studied under Juan Batlle Planas from 1950 to 1953 and quickly established the terms of his work, rooted ideologically in Surrealism and indebted in particular to the work of René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. All the elements of his mature art are evident in an early painting, Burning of the Hasidic School in Minsk in 1713 (1954; artist’s col.): architecture, space, light and ordered series. He developed an essentially intellectual approach, working in a variety of media (paintings, drawings, gouaches and collages) in rigorous sequences and picturing objects in cold impersonal light that confers on them a sense of distant majesty. The most common motif is that of a geometric, almost abstract structure, often in the form of a tower pierced by rows of large plain windows. Aizenberg’s work, while far removed from the Surrealist presumption of achieving a synthesis of wakefulness and dream, acquires its strength through the ordering of the unreal and the strange in the search for a transcendent essence capable of perturbing and jolting the viewer by bringing into play the archetypes of silence and solitude....

Article

Emmanuel Ortega

(b Texcoco; fl 1751–1803).

Mexican painter. José de Alcíbar was a prominent figure in Mexico City’s cultural scene during the second half of the 18th century, where he appears to have primarily painted portraits and religious images. One of Alcíbar’s best-known works, De Español y Negra, Mulato (1760; Denver, CO, A. Mus.), was painted as part of a casta series; a type of work that depicts the different racial groups (Spaniards, Africans, and native Mexicans) present in Mexico (see Pinturas de castas). Alcíbar is also recognized as a member of a group of artists who in 1751 aided painter Miguel Cabrera in his analysis of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. His formal approach remained Baroque in nature while his figures and colours epitomized the sweet and soft style Cabrera introduced in the mid-18th century. Alcíbar’s Ministry of St Joseph (c. 1771; Mexico City, Mus. N.A.) best represents this approach to Novohispanic subject-matter. Alcíbar’s style is a prime example of the ‘Old School of Mexican Painting’ typical of the late 18th century that decreased in prominence due to the establishment of the Academia and its emphasis on Neo-classicism....

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Panama City, Sept 5, 1949).

Panamian painter. A graduate of the University of Panama’s Architecture School, he became a full time painter following his first solo exhibition in 1979. From 1980 to 1983 he studied at the Art Students League in New York, his only formal training as an artist. Alfaro is best known for his beautifully rendered oil paintings but has also produced drawings, pastels and three-dimensional pieces. His first images were portraits of young women surrounded by surreal elements or in dream settings. From 1983 he painted humorous images of traditional or religious subjects such as church processions, as well as portraits of imaginary ecclesiastical figures and war heroes; capitalizing on Panama’s strong Catholic tradition. Alfaro even invented his own saints, including the Virgin of All Secrets (1986; see colour pl. I, fig.). By 1990, his compositions became increasingly baroque, crowded with human figures in often menacing natural environments that suggest abundant iconographic, literary and historical interpretations. Towards the end of the decade, Alfaro began to isolate and increasingly distort his models, achieving an expressive deformation characteristic of his disturbing view of humanity and personal vision of surrealism....

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Roberto Pontual

revised by Gillian Sneed

(b Itu, 1850; d Piracicaba, 1899).

Brazilian painter. With the financial help of family and friends, as a young man Almeida Júnior moved to Rio de Janeiro to study art in 1869. He attended the Academia Imperial das Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, where he studied drawing under Jules Le Chevrel (c. 1810–1872) and painting with Victor Meirelles de Lima. Deeply attached to the interior of the state of São Paulo, where he was born, Almeida Júnior returned there as soon as he had completed his studies in 1874. In 1875 he opened a studio in his hometown of Itu, where he taught drawing and painted portraits. In a trip to the countryside of São Paulo in 1876, the Emperor Peter II (r. 1831–1889) came across Almeida Júnior’s work. Impressed, he offered to pay for him to study in Europe. Under the patronage of the Emperor, Almeida Júnior travelled to Europe in 1876...

Article

Roberto Pontual

(b Cerro, 1858; d Paris, 1935).

Brazilian painter and caricaturist. Brought as a child from the interior of the state of Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro, he graduated in 1877 from the Academia Imperial das Belas Artes. By then he had already published his first caricatures in the Rio press, and he continued to be a frequent contributor to such humorous periodicals as O Binóculo, O Rataplan (which he founded in 1886), O Mercúrio, A Bruxa, O Malho, Fon-Fon! and Don Quixote. He first went to Europe in 1888, where he finished his studies with Jules Lefebvre in Paris and travelled to Italy. On his return to Brazil at the beginning of the 1890s, he taught drawing at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, but he spent most of the latter part of his life in Paris. There, despite the underlying academicism from which his work was never entirely free and unlike the majority of Brazilian artists of the time, he showed genuine interest in the avant-garde developments of modernist art....

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Jan 25, 1923; d July 31, 1993).

Argentine draughtsman, painter and printmaker. He was self-taught and in 1943 began to illustrate publications throughout Latin America, continuing to do so for more than 20 years. His early work consisted of highly emotive ink drawings marked by an intricacy of design and lack of idealization, for example The Vacuum II (1976). He later worked in both pastels and oils to create spectral images of love, death, eroticism and the obscure world of nightmares, fears and terrors. Critics sometimes spoke of these in terms of Magic Realism, although he did not subscribe to any specific stylistic tendency. He often treated human heads and figures in fragmentary form, as if they were the victims of violent torture, and with a veiled but sarcastic humour.

With time Alonso gradually simplified his drawings and replaced his invented characters with fictional objects and childhood memories, moving towards more intimate and abstract work, for example in the pastel ...

Article

Nicola Coleby

(b Mexico City, Aug 29, 1892; d Mexico City, April 4, 1985).

Mexican painter and draughtsman. He studied at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City from 1910. In 1917 he was employed as a draughtsman by the Ministry of Agriculture and began to attend the Escuela de Pintura al Aire Libre de Santa Anita under Alfredo Ramos Martínez, his palette gradually lightening. In 1920 he was appointed assistant draughtsman in the Ministry of Education and then tutor at the Academia de San Carlos. In 1922 he was commissioned by the Ministry of Education to paint a mural, the Landing of the Cross (fresco, 7×8 m; Mexico City, Escuela N. Prep.), an allegorical depiction of the implantation of Catholicism in New Spain in the 16th century, with large classical figures set in a steeply inclined composition. Over the next 40 years, Alva de la Canal painted six public murals with allegorical and historical themes, such as the Life of Morelos (encaustic and fresco, ...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Le Havre, Oct 19, 1938).

Panamanian painter and printmaker of French birth. He first studied with the figurative painter Alberto Dutary but established himself in the 1960s as one of the few abstract artists in Panama with paintings such as Green Force (Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.), which attest to the influence of American Abstract Expressionism; in other works he was also influenced by Post-painterly Abstraction. During a visit to Japan in 1969 he came into contact with Japanese art and Zen Buddhism, after which he sought to achieve the maximum impact of form and colour through reduction to essentials. The techniques used in his acrylic paintings and drawings were well suited also to screenprints such as the series Form and Space (1975; Panama City, Gal. Etcétera). Alvarado was also active in organizing exhibitions for others and promoting the arts in Panama as director from 1970 to 1975 of the Departmento de Artes Plásticas of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura y Deportes....

Article

Isobel Whitelegg

revised by Laura Gonzalez

[née Martínez de Anda, Dolores ]

(b Largos de Moreno, Jalisco, Apr 3, 1907; d Mexico City, Jul 31, 1993).

Mexican photographer. Born in Lagos de Moreno in the northern state of Jalisco, Martínez lived her first years in Guadalajara. After her parents’ separation in 1910, she moved to Mexico City with her father and brother. After her father’s sudden death in 1916, she was adopted by an older half-brother who sent her to a Catholic boarding school. At 18 she married a young friend and neighbor, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, who was then working at the Ministry of Finance as an accountant. In 1925 he was offered a better post in the southern city of Oaxaca, where the couple moved. Manuel started producing “weekend photographs” and Lola acted as his lab assistant. With Manuel’s camera, she started to produce her first photographs. On returning to Mexico City in 1927, she gave birth to a son, Manuel, and continued to assist her husband in the first stages of his career as a photographer. The couple displayed an active social agenda in the post-revolutionary cultural movement, sharing projects with friends who included Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, María Izquierdo, Julio Castellanos, Frances Toor, Tina Modotti, Luis Cardoza y Aragón, and some of the “Contemporáneos” (Xavier Villaurrutia, Carlos Mérida, Salvador Novo, and Carlos Pellicer). The Álvarez Bravos opened an informal gallery at their home in Tacubaya in ...

Article

Francis Summers

revised by Martin R. Patrick

(b Antwerp, Aug 22, 1959).

Belgian-born interdisciplinary artist, active in Mexico. He studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium (1978–83) and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice (1983–6). Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1987 and his art practice initially concentrated on Mexico City as a laboratory of urban living, often documented in the form of evocative, conceptually layered photographs, sculptures, and videos. In the slide series Ambulantes (Pushing and Pulling) (1992–2002), Alÿs photographed street vendors and workers as they passed by carting a wide variety of goods within a ten-block vicinity of his studio. For his project entitled The Liar, The Copy of the Liar (1997) Alÿs created small images of suited men inspired by the commercial sign painters of Mexico City, and subsequently commissioned from them larger versions in their own styles. In this process Alÿs deferred authorship into a semantic chain. Hovering between the banal and the surreal, these works have an uncanny theme, of individuals observed in situations that defy explanation....

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Santiago de Veraguas, March 25, 1869; d Panama City, Nov 12, 1952).

Panamanian painter, draughtsman and printmaker. He is known chiefly as the designer of the national flag (1903) of Panama. He studied business administration and had a long career in public office. When Panama became independent in 1903, he became Secretario de Hacienda and in 1904 Consul-General ad-honorem to Hamburg. In 1908 he moved to New York, where he studied with Robert Henri, who strongly influenced his style of vigorous drawing, loose brushwork, distorted expressionist images and sombre colours, as in Head Study (1910; Panama City, R. Miró priv. col.; see Miró). He produced most of his work between 1910 and 1914 and again after the late 1930s; his main subject was the human figure, but he also painted portraits, landscapes and still-lifes. On his return to Panama in the 1930s he worked as an auditor in the Contraloría General. After his retirement he resumed painting and produced some of his most passionate works, such as ...