“About to start his mural for the Museum of Modern Art, Orozco divides panels into blocks.
Orozco never draws a completed sketch on his walls, never makes a full-size cartoon. Above shows him studying his design (Dive and Bomber Tank) and contemplating the wall. The public is invited to watch him work.”
PM, June 19, 1940
PM, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 1940
Modern Art Museum
Gets Fresco Mural
It took the Museum of Modern Art to add spice to the Art Season last May when it rolled three freight cars and 20 centuries of Mexican art into Manhattan. No sooner had the pepper got off the public’s tongue than the art chefs decided to provide a bit of dessert.
Yesterday came the announcement that Mexican Mura1ist Jose Clemente Orozco, no stranger in these parts, had been coaxed to leave one wall that engaged him in Mexico, and tackle another wall on the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art.
Planned as an extra feature to the Mexican exhibition, the public will be permitted to watch for the next few weeks the technique of true fresco develop under the hand of a master.
A Mural Is Born
For a month, soft-voiced, dark-skinned Orozco has been cooped up behind bare walls of a mid-town hotel, fiddling with designs. Finally, scratches of electric-charged forms and volumes evolved on a small sheet of ordinary drawing paper.
The completed work, called Dive Bomber and Tank, will try to convey the essence of war destruction.
Unlike most of the walls Orozco has worked on, the Museum’s are divided into six removable panels which can be sent on tour to other cities. Three feet wide by nine feet high, each plaster slab weighs 500 pounds. It took Orozco and his assistant, Lewis Rubinstein, three weeks to prepare the plaster before painting could be started. Using permanent colors mixed in water, working on a wet section every day – cross-wise fashion from top left to right – Orozco hopes to get the job finished by mid-July.
The Museum of Modern Art’s portable mural will be Orozco’s fourth in the U. S. A. Others are in Manhattan’s New School for Social Research, Pomona College, at Claremont, Cal. and Dartmouth College.
Orozco is one of the few Mexican painters who have not studied in Europe. Eager to be an architect, he didn’t get around to his art until 1909, when he was 26. Intolerant even then of the pretty, sun-lit school of painting, Orozco expressed his contempt by painting prostitutes, night life, used dark, lurid colors. To this day he has never painted a landscape.
As the result of encountering some Mexican dynamite when he was 17, Orozco has no left hand, is partly deaf, and wears thick glasses. Peering through them, he says:
“I paint the today feeling. Anything made with passion, interest will last.”- E. S.