Orozco, José Clemente


José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) was a Mexican muralist whose art depicted the social conditions of the times he lived. He was born in the state of Jalisco. His family moved to Guadalajara and then to Mexico City when he was 7 years old. Later Orozco became a follower of José Guadalupe Posada and took up art after seeing Posada’s works.


–one of Orozco’s self portraits

Orozco wanted to have a fallback if art did not work out for him, so he spent 3 years studying agriculture. He then returned to school at San Carlos Academy. Orozco became a magazine artist and was politically involved with the Constitutionalist movement in Mexico during the revolution, which was reflected in his art.


–Orozco’s depiction of Emiliano Zapata, 1930, oil on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago

By 1922, Orozco was painting murals, mostly ones depicting conditions in post-revolution Mexico. He then lived in the United States for approximately 6 years. In New York, he painted murals about different struggles in life, mostly social struggles, at what is now The New School. He then returned to work in Mexico.

A statement from an article on Orozco by Jim Tuck (a political and historical writer that was based in Mexico) is as follows:

While painting and writing are different disciplines, it is astounding how much Orozco resembles both Dickens and Balzac in prodigiousness of output and in his role as an interpreter of national values. Revolutionary wall painting — the trademark of Orozco and such contemporaries as Rivera and Siqueiros — is as evocative of Mexico as A Christmas Carol of 19th century London and Eugénie Grandet of provincial France.


–a section of Orozco’s Prometheus, 1930, fresco, Pomona College, Claremont, California

Orozco participated along with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and other liberal intellects in a protest at the Del Prado Hotel to restore a Rivera mural that had the words “does not exist” removed by ultra-right Catholic students.

Interesting fact: Orozco lost his left hand due to a fireworks accident at 21.

  2 comments for “Orozco, José Clemente

  1. April 17, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    A fascinating muralist! What beautiful images.

    • April 17, 2015 at 7:35 PM

      I thought so, too! Thank you for visiting. Cheers, Denise

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