Guayasamín, Oswaldo (1919–1999)

views updated

Guayasamín, Oswaldo (1919–1999)

Oswaldo Guayasamín (b. July 1919, d. 10 March 1999), Ecuadoran painter. Born in Quito, to a humble Indian family, Guayasamín demonstrated his artistic talents at an early age. In 1932 he began studies at Quito's National School of Fine Arts, graduating with honors in 1941. In the following year he had his first solo exhibitions, in Quito and Guayaquil. In 1943, Guayasamín received an invitation through Nelson Rockefeller, who worked for the State Department, to visit the United States. This gave him the opportunity to study firsthand the works of masters like El Greco, Francisco Goya, and Pablo Picasso. The Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, whom Guayasamín met and worked with for a brief period in 1943, had a major impact on the development of his painting, especially on the expressive distortions of the human figure. In fact, throughout decades of prolific work—in painting, drawing, and printmaking—Guayasamín's main pictorial subject has been the human figure, rendered in isolation or as a part of epic scenes, a symbolic carrier of the artist's quest for social and political justice.

From the late 1940s, the ideological and humanitarian appeal of his images, inspired by past and current struggles in Latin America, won Guayasamín commissions for large murals, created for public spaces like the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, Quito (1948); Centro Bolívar, Caracas (1954); Palacio del Gobierno, Quito (1958); and Barajas Airport, Madrid (1982). Exhibitions of his work outside Ecuador include those at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas (1954); Pan-American Union, Washington, D.C. (1955); IV Bienal de São Paulo (1957); Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (1968); Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid (1972); Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1973); the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia (1982); Museo Nacional Palacio de Bellas Artes, Havana (1985).

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Oswaldo Guayasamín, De orbe novo decades (1989).

Régis Debray, "Guayasamín et les hommes de maïs," in Le Nouvel Observateur, December 1973, reprinted in Art d'Amérique Latine 1911–1968 (1992), 228-230.

Annick Sanjurjo, ed., Contemporary Latin American Artists (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Adoum, Jorge Enrique, and Oswaldo Guayasamín. Guayasamín: el hombre-la obra-la crítica. Nürnberg: Verlag Das Andere, 1998.

Blanco, Katiuska. Un abrazo de Guayasamín para Fidel. Melbourne, Vic: Ocean Press, 2006.

Flores Jaramillo, Renán. Oswaldo Guayasamín. Quito, Ecuador: Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana "Benjamín Carrión," 2002.

                                          Fatima Bercht

About this article

Guayasamín, Oswaldo (1919–1999)

Updated About content Print Article