José Miguel Covarrubias Duclaud
November 22, 1904
Mexico City, Mexico
|Died||February 4, 1957 52)(aged|
|Known for||painter, caricaturist, illustrator, ethnologist, art historian|
|Spouse(s)||Rosa Rolando (m.1930 – s.1952), Rocío Sagaón (m. circa 1952 – d.1957)|
Miguel Covarrubias, also known as José Miguel Covarrubias Duclaud (22 November 1904 — 4 February 1957) was a Mexican painter, caricaturist, illustrator, ethnologist and art historian. Along with his American colleague Matthew W. Stirling, he was the co-discoverer of the Olmec civilization.
José Miguel Covarrubias Duclaud was born 22 November 1904 in Mexico City. [ citation needed ]After graduating from the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria at the age of 14, he started producing caricatures and illustrations for texts and training materials published by the Mexican Ministry of Public Education. He also worked for the Ministry of Communications.
In 1923, at the age of 19, he moved to New York City armed with a grant from the Mexican government, tremendous talent, but very little English. [ citation needed ] Soon Covarrubias was drawing for several top magazines, eventually becoming one of Vanity Fair magazine's premier caricaturists.In her book Covarrubias, author Adriana Williams writes that Mexican poet José Juan Tablada and New York Times critic/photographer Carl Van Vechten introduced him to New York's literary/cultural elite (known as the Smart Set).
A man of many talents, he also began to design sets and costumes for the theater including Caroline Dudley Reagan's La Revue Negre starring Josephine Baker in the show that made her a smash in Paris. Other shows included Androcles and the Lion, The Four Over Thebes, and the Garrick Gaities' Rancho Mexicano number for dancer and choreographer Rosa Rolando (or Rolanda; born Rosemonde Cowan, and later to take the name Rosa Covarrubias). The two fell in love and traveled together to Mexico, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean in the mid to late 1920s. During one of their trips to Mexico, Rosa and Miguel traveled with Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, who taught Rosa photography. Rosa was also introduced to Miguel's family and friends including artist Diego Rivera. Rosa would become lifelong friends with Rivera's third wife, the artist Frida Kahlo.
Miguel's artwork and celebrity caricatures have been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines.The linear nature of his drawing style was highly influential to other caricaturists such as Al Hirschfeld. Miguel's first book of caricatures The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans was a hit, though not all his subjects were thrilled that his sharp, pointed wit was aimed at them. He immediately fell in love with the Harlem jazz scene, which he frequented with Rosa and friends including Eugene O'Neill and Nickolas Muray. He counted many notables among his friends including Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and W.C. Handy for whom he also illustrated books. Miguel's caricatures of the jazz clubs were the first of their kind printed in Vanity Fair. He managed to capture the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance in much of his work as well as in his book, Negro Drawings. He did not consider these caricatures, but serious drawings of people, music and a culture he loved. Covarrubias also did illustrations for George Macy, the publisher of The Limited Editions Club, including Uncle Tom's Cabin, Green Mansions, Herman Melville's Typee, and Pearl Buck's All Men Are Brothers. Heritage Press, the sister organization of The Limited Editions Club, reprinted unsigned editions. In addition he did illustrations for publisher Alfred & Charles Boni's Frankie and Johnny for a young writer who would become a good friend and film director named John Huston. Today, these editions are very sought after by collectors.
He collaborated in Austrian Artist Wolfgang Paalen's journal Dyn from 1942–44. Additionally his advertising, painting and illustration work brought him international recognition including gallery shows in Europe, Mexico and the United States as well as awards such as the 1929 National Art Directors' Medal for painting in color for his work on a Steinway & Sons piano advertisement.
Covarrubias was invited by the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) that was held on Treasure Island, "to create a mural set entitled Pageant of the Pacific to be the centerpiece of Pacific House, 'a center where the social, cultural and scientific interests of the countries in the Pacific Area could be shown to a large audience.'"Covarrubias painted the six murals for GGIE in San Francisco with his assistant Antonio M. Ruiz. The set of murals featured oversized, "illustrated maps entitled: The Fauna and Flora of the Pacific, Peoples, Art and Culture, Economy, Native Dwellings, and Native Means of Transportation. These murals were immensely popular at the GGIE and were later exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Upon returning to San Francisco, five of the murals were installed at the World Trade Club in the Ferry Building where they hung until 2001. The whereabouts of the sixth mural, Art and Culture, are unknown and has been the subject of great speculation."
The Fauna and Flora of the Pacific mural is on display at the de Young museum in San Francisco. "The colorful map depicts the four Pacific Rim continents with examples of their flora and fauna suspended in a swirling Pacific Ocean populated with sea creatures."
Miguel and Rosa married in 1930 and they took an extended honeymoon to Bali with the National Art Directors' Medal prize money where they immersed themselves in the local culture, language and customs.Miguel returned to Southeast Asia (Java, Bali, India, Vietnam) in 1933, as a Guggenheim Fellow with Rosa whose photography would become part of Miguel's book, Island of Bali. The book and particularly the marketing for months surrounding its release, contributed to the 1930s Bali craze in New York. He also spent time in China, where his work was very influential among artists in Shanghai.
Rosa and Miguel returned to live in Mexico City where he continued to paint, illustrate and write. Their home, Tizapán, would become a hub for visitors from around the world including the likes of Nickolas Muray, Dolores del Río, and Nelson Rockefeller. He taught ethnology at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia and was appointed artistic director and director of administration for a new department at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the National Palace of Fine Arts. His mandate was to add an Academy of Dance - a task to which Rosa with her dance and choreography background was most valuable. Miguel recruited friend and dancer José Limón who brought his dance company from New York City for the inaugural season in 1950, taught at Bellas Artes and helped arrange for international exposure of this new Mexican modern dance company. During Miguel's tenure, traditional Mexican dance was not only researched, documented and preserved but by this research into its roots, it helped usher in a new era in contemporary Mexican dance.
In 1952, Covarrubias had completely separated from Rolanda in pursuit of one of his own students, Rocío Sagaón. [ when? ]He married Sagaón in a Catholic ceremony.
Covarrubias died on February 5, 1957 in Mexico City, from septicemia, most likely a complication of his surgery after suffering from an ulcer.
Covarrubias’ style was highly influential in America, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, and his artwork and caricatures of influential politicians and artists were featured on the covers of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.
Covarrubias is also known for his analysis of the pre-Columbian art of Mesoamerica, particularly that of the Olmec culture, and his theory of Mexican cultural diffusion to the north, particularly to the Mississippian Native American Indian cultures. His analysis of iconography presented a strong case that the Olmec predated the Classic Era years before this was confirmed by archaeology. In his thesis of a final cultural battle between Olmecs and Maya he was encouraged by his friend, the Austrian Surrealist and ethnological philosopher Wolfgang Paalen, who even went so far to describe the conflict as one of ancient matriarchal culture with new patriarchal orientations in Maya culture with its dominant adoration of the male sun-god Kukulkan. Both Paalen and Covarrubias published their ideas in Paalen's magazine DYN . Covarrubias interest in anthropology went beyond the arts and beyond the Americas—Covarrubias lived in and wrote a thorough ethnography of the "Island of Bali". He shared his appreciation of foreign cultures with the world through his drawings, paintings, writings, and caricatures.
The Olmecs were the earliest known major Mesoamerican civilization. Following a progressive development in Soconusco, they occupied the tropical lowlands of the modern-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. It has been speculated that the Olmecs derived in part from the neighboring Mokaya or Mixe–Zoque cultures.
Wolfgang Robert Paalen was an Austrian-Mexican painter, sculptor, and art philosopher. A member of the Abstraction-Création group from 1934 to 1935, he joined the influential Surrealist movement in 1935 and was one of its prominent exponents until 1942. Whilst in exile in Mexico, he founded his own counter-surrealist art-magazine DYN, in which he summarized his critical attitude towards radical subjectivism and Freudo-Marxism in Surrealism with his philosophy of contingency. He rejoined the group between 1951 and 1954, during his sojourn in Paris.
Walter Spies was a Russian-born German primitivist painter, composer, musicologist, and curator. In 1923 he moved to Java, Indonesia. He lived in Yogyakarta and then in Ubud, Bali starting from 1927. He is often credited with attracting the attention of Western cultural figures to Balinese culture and art in the 1930s and he influenced the direction of Balinese art and Balinese drama.
The religion of the Olmec people significantly influenced the social development and mythological world view of Mesoamerica. Scholars have seen echoes of Olmec supernatural in the subsequent religions and mythologies of nearly all later pre-Columbian era cultures.
Edward Sorel is an American illustrator, caricaturist, cartoonist, graphic designer and author. His work is known for its storytelling, its left-liberal social commentary, its criticism of reactionary right-wing politics and organized religion. Formerly a regular contributor to The Nation, New York Magazine and The Atlantic, his work is today seen more frequently in Vanity Fair. He has been hailed by The New York Times as "one of America's foremost political satirists". As a lifelong New Yorker, a large portion of his work interprets the life, culture and political events of New York City. There is also a large body of work which is nostalgic for the stars of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood when Sorel was a youth. Sorel is noted for his wavy pen-and-ink style, which he describes as "spontaneous direct drawing".
Nickolas Muray was a Hungarian-born American photographer and Olympic saber fencer.
The were-jaguar was both an Olmec motif and a supernatural entity, perhaps a deity.
The Feathered Serpent was a prominent supernatural entity or deity, found in many Mesoamerican religions. It is still called Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs, Kukulkan among the Yucatec Maya, and Q'uq'umatz and Tohil among the K'iche' Maya.
Classic Veracruz culture refers to a cultural area in the north and central areas of the present-day Mexican state of Veracruz, a culture that existed from roughly 100 to 1000 CE, or during the Classic era.
DYN was an art magazine founded by the Austrian-Mexican Surrealist Wolfgang Paalen, published in Mexico City, and distributed in New York City, Paris, and London between 1942 and 1944. Only six issues were produced.
Ralph Waldo Emerson Barton was an American artist best known for his cartoons and caricatures of actors and other celebrities. Though his work was heavily in demand through the 1920s and is often considered to epitomize the era, his personal life was troubled by mental illness, and he was nearly forgotten soon after his suicide, shortly before his fortieth birthday.
Art in Action was an exhibit of artists at work displayed for four months in the summer of 1940 at the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) held on Treasure Island. Many famous artists took part in the exhibit, including Dudley C. Carter, woodcarver and Diego Rivera, muralist. Rivera painted his monumental work Pan American Unity at Art in Action.
Alice Phillipot was a French/Mexican poet and artist whose work contributed to the beginning of abstract expression in Mexico. She began as a surrealist poet in Europe but began painting in Mexico. She was a prolific artist from the late 1940s to the 1960s, exhibiting frequently in Mexico and the United States, with a wide circle of friends in these two countries. Her work remained tied to surrealism but was also innovative, including abstract elements and the use of techniques such as sgraffito and the use of sand for texture. She became isolated in her later life due to health issues, and except for retrospectives at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in 1986 and at the Museo de Arte Moderno in 2009 and 2014, she has been largely forgotten, despite her influence on Mexican modern art.
Adolfo Best Maugard, also known as Fito Best, was a Mexican painter, film director and screenwriter.
Santos Balmori Picazo was a Spanish-Mexican painter whose heavily European style was not appreciated by his contemporaries of the Mexican muralism movement, but he had influence with the succeeding Generación de la Ruptura artists. He trained and began his art career in Europe moving later to Mexico City. He became a professor and researcher at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas training younger artists such as Rodolfo Nieto, Pedro Coronel, Carlos Olachea and Juan Soriano. As a teacher, he did not stop drawing but he did not paint professionally again until after retirement, having a number of exhibitions later in life.
Antonio M. Ruíz, was a Mexican fine art painter and scenic designer otherwise known by his childhood nickname "El Corzo" or "El Corcito" (diminutive) which came about due to his resemblance to a popular Spanish bullfighter or torero.
Gabriel Fernández Ledesma was a Mexican painter, printmaker, sculptor, graphic artist, writer and teacher. He began his career working with artist Roberto Montenegro then moved into publishing and education. His work was recognized with two Guggenheim Fellowships, the José Guadalupe Posada medal and membership in the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana.
Various types of visual arts developed in the geographical area now known as Mexico. The development of these arts roughly follows the history of Mexico, divided into the prehispanic Mesoamerican era, the colonial period, with the period after Mexican War of Independence, the development Mexican national identity through art in the nineteenth century, and the florescence of modern Mexican art after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).
Rosa Rolanda was an American multidisciplinary artist, dancer, and choreographer.
Eva Sulzer was a photographer, musician, collector, and filmmaker who is most renowned for her photographs of pre-Columbian sights through central and North America, including Canada, Alaska, and Mexico. She also had a substantial collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and indigenous art pieces. She worked closely with the artist Wolfgang Paalen and other surrealist emigres in Mexico during the early 1940s.