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PROPERTY SOLD TO BENEFIT THE MANUEL ARANGO FOUNDATION'S PROGRAMS IN SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION

José Clemente Orozco (1883 - 1949)
LOS DESEMPLEADOS
ACCÉDER AU LOT
7

PROPERTY SOLD TO BENEFIT THE MANUEL ARANGO FOUNDATION'S PROGRAMS IN SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION

José Clemente Orozco (1883 - 1949)
LOS DESEMPLEADOS
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Latin America: Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York

José Clemente Orozco (1883 - 1949)
LOS DESEMPLEADOS
signed lower right
oil on canvas
25 1/2 by 20 1/2 in.
65 by 52 cm
Painted circa 1929.
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This painting is part of the National Heritage of Mexico and cannot be permanently exported from the country. Accordingly, it is offered for sale in New York from the catalogue and will not be available in New York for inspection or delivery. The painting will be released to the purchaser in Mexico in compliance with all local requirements. Prospective buyers may contact Sotheby’s representatives in Mexico City and Monterrey for an appointment to view the work.

Provenance

The Collection of Gertrude Finnerud
Sale: Christie's, New York, Latin American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, May 17, 1989, lot 22, illustrated in color
Acquired from the above

Exposition

Guadalajara, Instituto Cultural Cabañas, March 24-July 31, 2010; Mexico City, Antiguo Colegio de San Idelfonso, October 1, 2010- February 27, 2011; José Clemente Orozco, Pintura y Verdad, no. 113, p. 148, illustrated in color 

Description

“Here I am finally in Gringoland, trying to make a name for myself and promote my work. This incredible city, part amusement park and part grown monstrosity, has changed a great deal since I was last here.”
José Clemente Orozco (1) 

Los desempleados (The Unemployed) is a rare and powerful early work by José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949); one of only nineteen street scenes painted in New York during the period of 1928-1932. While some of these easel paintings have been generally regarded by historians as creative exercises for future larger scale works, the present picture presents a fully autonomous and self-contained composition—a definitive canvas by one of Mexico’s most celebrated muralists. 

In his autobiography, Orozco called New York an “imperial city.” It was among New York skyscrapers, that Orozco first “encountered the modern, urban, thoroughly anonymous, even alienated crowd,” arguably the most poignant quality of the modern era. (2)  In Los desempleados, three massive manly figures confront each other. Lacking any individuality, their concealed gaze prevents them from connecting to each other or the viewer.  Wearing hats and monolithic gray coats, they succeed in imposing their robust physicality while disguising their humanity. Conceived as automatons, these novel creatures seem to exist solely for the glory of the modern city. This modern-day sense of detachment is equally apparent in Winter (1932), another outstanding painting from this series currently in the collection of the Museo Carrillo Gil in Mexico City. (Fig. 1)

Painted circa 1929, Los desempleados embodies the New York collective psyche after the stock market crash of October 29. Profoundly somber, the picture alludes to the intense disillusionment brought forth by the sudden collapse of economic certainty. Metropolitan life, once lionized as the American way of life and an icon of modernization, gave way to massive angst.  Executed in zinc white and ivory black, Los desempleados is one of the last surviving examples in private hands from this compelling period in Orozco’s production; a time of great professional success when he rose to prominence and solidified his position along fellow Mexican muralists Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974).

1. Clemente Orozco, quoted in A. Anreus, Orozco in Gringoland: The Years in New York, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 2001, p. 21.

2. Ibid., p. 51

Latin America: Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York