Thursday, November 12, 2015
Jean Charlot -Mexico's Brethren Printmaker
He loved to portray daily rituals and embraced small moments in one’s life. The gentle simplicity of his compositions and blended colors vibrate life under the surface of one’s skin. The gentle kiss of a mother to her infant, and the intimacy of watching a mother combing a young girl’s hair are examples of an artist who is presently witnessing the event. He is not a voyeur sneaking a peak, at an intimate moment. He is part of the activity, and so are we.
Jean Charlot (1898 –1979) was a French/ American artist, who worked in Mexico and the United States. Charlot was born in Paris, but he claimed to have Aztec roots. This was because his mother was from Mexico, his grandfather was a French-Indian mestizo, and his Spanish great grandfather had married a woman who was half Aztec.
Charlot was fascinated with pre-Columbian artifacts and Mexican manuscripts. He studied art in Paris before serving in the French Army during WWI. In 1921, Charlot and his mother went to Mexico City, where he met Fernando Leal, Diego Rivera, Dorothy “Zohmah” Day and Pablo O'Higgins. He later married Day, who had originally moved to Mexico to be involved with the Mexican art movement.
After the Mexican Revolution, mural painting became one of the more accessible visual means to convey the government’s messages about social justice. Charlot participated in this mural art movement with his fresco called "Massacre in the Templo Mayor".
While Charlot lived in the US, he also did some commissions for the Work Projects Administration's Federal Arts Project. In 1947, he moved to Colorado and spent two years teaching fresco painting and making lithographs at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He then moved to Hawaii to teach art at the University of Hawaii. His latter works reflect images from his thirty years’ living on the island, and they exude his fascination with nature and the Hawaiian people.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Cleveland Museum of Art
Hawaii State Art Museum
Honolulu Museum of Art
University of Hawaii at Manoa
1940 - illustrated Tito's Hats, which was written by Mel Ferrer.
1972 - published "An Artist on Art: Collected Essays of Jean Charlot", on Mexican art history.