Cuevas, José Luis (1933–)

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Cuevas, José Luis (1933–)

José Luis Cuevas is a Mexican artist. Born on 26 February 1933, Cuevas's talent became apparent in 1953, a crucial time in Mexican art when the hegemony of the Mexican School was in question. His pen and ink drawings of mad people, cadavers, freaks, and prostitutes brought him acclaim in 1954 at the Pan American Union under the tutelage of its director, José Gómez Sicre. Cuevas promoted himself with a publicity campaign that culminated in 1956 with his article "La cortina de nopal" (The Cactus Curtain) in the newspaper Novedades, in which he fulminated against the Mexican School. He initiated an expressive figurative and intimist drawing style based on monsters and the grotesque. His later work drew extensively from literary sources (Kafka, Dostoevsky, Quevedo) and from such artists as Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Goya, Dürer, Picasso, and Orozco. He did several thematic series, which include The Worlds of Kafka and Cuevas (1957), Funerals of a Dictator (1958), The Spain of Franco (1960), and The Conquest of Mexico (1961), as well as innumerable self-portraits. Cuevas has had a strong influence on neofigurative Latin American artists. In 1992 the Museo José Luis Cuevas opened in Mexico City. In 1997 he received the Tomas Francisco Pietro Award in engraving. Francisco Bolaños directed a biographical documentary about his life and work, José Luis Cuevas … Ilustrador de su tiempo (2006). He writes a weekly column in the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Arnaldo Alcubilla, Francisco Javier. "José Luis Cuevas, armado con su firma." Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos 575 (May 1998): 15-18.

Arnaldo Alcubilla, Francisco Javier. "Una conversación con José Luis Cuevas en Madrid." Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos 575 (May 1998): 19-30.

Dimmick, Ralph, et al., trans., Cuevas by Cuevas: Autobiographical Notes (1965).

Fuentes, Carlos. El mundo de José Luis Cuevas, translated by Consuelo de Aerenlund (1969).

Gallo, Rubén. Mexican Modernity: The Avant-Garde and the Technological Revolution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

Goldman, Shifra M. Contemporary Mexican Painting in a Time of Change (1981).

Peden, Margaret Sayers. Out of the Volcano: Portraits of Contemporary Mexican Artists. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.

                                    Shifra M. Goldman