Juan O’Gorman

Mexico, 1905

BIOGRAPHY

Juan O'Gorman was born in Coyoacán, Mexico in 1905. His father Cecil Crawford O'Gorman (a painter himself) was Irish and his mother was Mexican. In the 1920s he studied architecture at the Academy of San Carlos, the Art and Architecture school at the National Autonomous University. He became a well known architect, worked on the new Bank of Mexico building, and under the influence of Le Corbusier introduced modern functionalist architecture to Mexico City with his 1929 houses at San Angel. An important early commission was for a house and studio for painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, built in 1931-32, with its symbolic bridge. Rivera, in turn, influenced O'Gorman's painting. In 1932, Narciso Bassols, then Secretary of Education, appointed O'Gorman to the position of Head of Architectural Office of the Ministry of Public Education, where he went on to design and build 26 elementary schools in Mexico City. The schools were built with the philosophy of "eliminating all architectural style and executing constructions technically." As he matured O'Gorman turned away from strict functionalism and worked to develop an organic architecture, combining the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright with traditional Mexican constructions. His paintings often treated Mexican history, landscape, and legends. He painted the murals in the Independence Room in Mexico City's Chapultepec Castle, and the huge murals of his own 1952 Central Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, designed with Gustavo Saavedra and Juan Martinez de Velasco. See also Mexican Muralism. In 1959, together with fellow artists, Raúl Anguiano, Jesús Guerrero Galván, and Carlos Orozco Romero, Juan O'Gorman founded the militant Unión de Pintores y Grabadores de México. He died on January 17, 1982, as a result of suicide. Authorities believe the artist grew despondent after being diagnosed with a heart ailment which curtailed his work. O'Gorman, who was 76 years old, was found dead at his home.

Artworks by Juan O’Gorman