José Clemente Orozco

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Orozco, José Clemente


Born Nov. 23, 1883, in Zapotlán, in the state of Jalisco; died Sept. 7, 1949, in Mexico City. Mexican painter; one of the founders of the national school of monumental painting.

From 1908 to 1914, Orozco studied at the Academy of Arts in Mexico City. He took part in the Mexican Revolution of 1910–17. Political repression forced him to live abroad, in the USA, from 1917 to 1919 and again from 1927 to 1934. Orozco worked primarily in Mexico City and Guadalajara. (In 1949 the Orozco Museum-Studio was founded in the latter city.) Between 1913 and 1917 the artist produced a series of watercolors entitled Mexico in Revolution. Imbued with revolutionary zeal, Orozco’s first monumental works, the frescoes in the National Preparatory School in Mexico City (1922–27), are distinguished by generalization of form and by compositional repetition and rigidity. The works are reminiscent of Italian pre-Renaissance art, yet, at the same time, some are marked by profoundly expressive imagery.

In the USA, Orozco worked in a more expressionist manner than he had employed before. This is evident in the fresco Prometheus (1930) at Pomona College in Clermont, Calif. Orozco’s murals of the 1930’s and 1940’s constitute an angry protest against human oppression and suffering and are characterized by frenzied arrangement of figures, a vivid palette, and grotesque images (for example, the murals in the auditorium of the University of Guadalajara, 1936; the Cabañas Hospital, 1938–39; and the Palace of Goverment, 1937 and 1948–49—all in Guadalajara). Orozco also produced many easel paintings, lithographs, and drawings. He was a well-known illustrator.


Autobiografia. [Mexico City] 1970.


Kostenevich, A. G. Kh. K. Orosko. Leningrad, 1969.
Fernández, J. Orozco: Forma e idea. Mexico City, 1956.
Cardoza, G., and L. Aragón. José Clemente Orozco. Mexico City, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.