Orozco, José Clemente

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Orozco, José Clemente

Orozco, José Clemente (hōsāˈ klāmānˈtā ōrōˈskō), 1883–1949, Mexican muralist, genre painter, and lithographer, grad. Mexican National Agricultural School. He became an architectural draftsman and in 1908 turned to painting. With Diego Rivera he led the renaissance of modern Mexican art. Orozco's work is bold in execution, often brilliant in color, and deals compassionately with social themes, especially human versus machine. From 1917 to 1919 and from 1927 to 1934, Orozco was in the United States. Much of his work is true fresco painting, executed directly on wet plaster, such as his 1930 mural Mankind's Struggle at New School Univ., New York City. His work in the United States also includes Prometheus (Frary Hall, Pomona College, Calif.) and Epic of Culture in the New World (Baker Library, Dartmouth College). There are also several fine murals in Mexico, such as those at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City and at Guadalajara in the university, governor's palace, and cultural institute.


See catalog by J. Hopkins (1967); autobiography (tr. 1962); M. Helm, Man of Fire (1953, repr. 1971).

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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.