Feeling once more the pull of black and white art, a spare palette that in the hands of talented artists doubles the sense of drama, I pulled down again a book introduced here last July, Portrait of Latin America As Seen by her Print Makers. Turning unhurriedly through these monochrome plates, it is soon apparent that the work moves from primitive to folk art to fine art. Clear as well that the subjects evoke a world of rural Latin America far from our notions of modern life. One page offers a portrait of hungry peasants, another a picture of men at work, or family members entwined in embrace, and another the lined face in close-up of a village elder, a microcosm of life among people of the earth, people for whom family is life.
The three plates here each illustrate a different facet of rustic life as it is lived and completed in places far away from world capitals. The first, a work titled only Grabado (Engraving) is a portrait of grief in the face of death who has taken away a loved one. The second, by Mexico’s greatest artist portrays a family expressing gratitude for the fruits of their labor. The last print is one expressing the camaraderie of Uruguayan gauchos at the start of a long day.
Engraving by Pompeyo Audivert; wood engraving (1944)
Audivert was born in Spain in 1900, emigrating to Argentina at the age of eleven. He became a naturalized Argentinian in 1916. A painter and graphic artist, he belonged to a group of progressive artists known as “The New Generation.” He died in 1977.
Fruits of Labor by Diego Rivera; lithograph (1932)
Born in 1886, Rivera is perhaps the most well-known of Mexican artists. His work is in museums all over the world and his frescoes and murals are painted in and on numerous buildings, 300 of them in Mexico alone. An active communist, Rivera was perhaps as famous for his politics as his art. He died in 1957.
Discussing Horse Breaking by Carlos González; woodcut (1941)
Born in 1905 and raised on the treeless plains of Uruguay, González studied for a time at The School of Plastic Arts, but disagreed with his professors and returned to the country. He was a painter, muralist and graphic artist.