Theme/Style – Modernism, Mexican Open Air School of Painting
Media – Oils, murals, drawings
Artistic Focus – One has only to see the final, unfinished murals painted by Alfredo Ramos Martinez to realize that this artist has not yet gained the full measure of recognition he deserves. Martinez’ art was reflective of his effort to help Mexico recover its own cultural expression from the influences imposed upon it by Spanish conquest and European academy training, and his use of newsprint, pastels and charcoal as a medium was extraordinary. A Los Angeles Times art critic referred to the artist as “one of the neglected figures of Mexican Muralism.”
Career Highlights –
- In 1912, Martinez established the first of a series of open air schools for Mexican art students who were encouraged to infuse their work with a sense of true Mexican culture. In honor of the group of French painters who painted landscapes in the Fontainebleau Forest during the 1830s, he named the school “Barbizon.”
- Martinez later joined his strongly geometric, yet representational images of his own culture with those of California Modernism when in 1929, he and his wife brought their infant daughter to California for medical treatment.
- Works exhibited by the Assistance League Art Gallery in Los Angeles drew favorable commentary for their nostalgic, yet unsentimental depiction of indigenous Mexican people and various Catholic subjects, and for their use of siennas, ochres, umbers and greens.
- Several of Martinez’ unfinished murals may be seen in the Margaret Fowler Memorial Garden at Scripps College in Claremont, California.
- Many of the later frescoes painted by Martinez in both private and public buildings in California have been lost to demolition.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.