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Velásquez, José Antonio (1906–1983)

Velásquez, José Antonio (1906–1983)

José Antonio Velásquez (b. 8 February 1906; d. 14 February 1983), the first and foremost Honduran primitivist painter. Born in Caridad, department of Valle, Velásquez was a barber by profession, without formal artistic training. He began to paint in 1927, and after working at various places throughout Honduras, he moved in 1930 to the village of San Antonio de Oriente, where in addition to being the barber and telegraph operator, he painted scenes of the village. His unique, primitive paintings, reflect the innocence and tranquility of that Honduran village where he spent the next thirty years of his life.

His paintings were discovered in 1943 by Wilson Popenoe, director of the Agriculture School at El Zamorano, and his wife. Popenoe hired Velásquez as a barber at his school, but he and his wife encouraged Velásquez to market his paintings in Tegucigalpa. They sold there only at low prices until 1954, when the Popenoes arranged for an exhibition of his work at the Pan American Union in Washington, D.C. This event catapulted Velásquez to international recognition, and in 1955 he was awarded Honduras's most prestigious art award, the Pablo Zelaya Sierra National Prize for Art. Among many other honors, he was elected mayor of San Antonio de Oriente. Now famous, he moved in 1961 to Tegucigalpa and in 1971 was the subject of a movie produced by Shirley Temple Black and filmed in San Antonio de Oriente.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


J. Evaristo López and Longino Becerra, Honduras: 40 pintores (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Yuscarán, Guillermo. Velásquez: The Man and His Art. Tegucigalpa, Honduras: Nuevo Sol Publications, 1994.

                                    Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.

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