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Self-Portrait in New York
Self-Portrait in New York, 1936
David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mexican
Image (approximately): 21 × 14 1/4 inches (53.3 × 36.2 cm) Sheet: 22 15/16 × 15 7/8 inches (58.2 × 40.4 cm)
Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, 1976
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David Alfaro Siqueiros

Mexican, 1896 - 1974

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An avid printmaker for much of his career, José Clemente Orozco (1883 - 1949) began by counting on the distribution of prints to build his reputation, but he soon discovered in lithography and etching, the mediums of Daumier and Goya, the ideal modes of expression for the biting humor and dark pathos of his grand artistic vision. The unfolding story of Orozco's phenomenal early successes as a printmaker during his five-and-a-half-year sojourn in the United States--from December 1927 to July 1934--can be traced in letters the artist wrote to his wife, Margarita, and his artist friend Jean Charlot in Mexico.1 Although he had not made any prints before coming to the United States,2 lithography played a significant role in publicizing his work, particularly during the first three years of his stay. Between early 1928 and early 1931, he produced seventeen lithographs, three of which were singled out for inclusion in annual Fifty Prints of the Year touring exhibitions, earning national press coverage and spurring sales.3 Of four additional lithographs executed by Orozco during this period, one was completed in New York during the winter of 1930-31, two at the Atelier Desjobert in Paris in September 1932, and one in New York during the latter half of February 1934.

By the time he returned to Mexico in early July 1934, Orozco had completed major mural projects in California, New York, and New Hampshire, and his paintings, drawings, and lithographs had been exhibited and sold to art museums and private collectors from coast to coast.4 Before the summer was out he found time to make the first two prints in a series of ten new lithographs, which he would complete by September 1935. Some months earlier Orozco also made his first intaglio prints on copper, producing three small drypoints, one etching with drypoint, and one drypoint with aquatint, and he would end his printmaking career in 1944 in a burst of intaglio activity, proofing small editions of a dozen new etchings and aquatints on his own press within the space of a few months.5

New York, 1927-34

On February 6, 1928, less than two months after arriving in Manhattan, Orozco wrote to his wife about his purchase of printmaking supplies with profits from the sale of four drawings, telling her that he wanted to try his hand at making lithographs since he would be able to sell multiple copies of each print.6 To Charlot, who was more knowledgeable about printmaking, he reported in greater detail, explaining that lithography was easy and could be done on "special plates" (zinc) rather than on stone, and that he had bought two such plates--measuring 26 x 43 cm (101?4 x 1615?16 inches) and costing 50 cents apiece--from a Mr. Miller, "who makes the prints for the art galleries."7 In fact, it was George C. Miller's skill in printing lithographs that made possible the rise of artistic lithography in the United States in the 1920s.8 By mid-March Orozco was fully committed to lithography as the best way to defray his expenses in New York and still send small sums and useful gifts to his wife and two small children. In a letter to Margarita reviewing his options for making money, he rejected two out of three: commercial poster-making, although expedient, was a sad last resort, and formal painting was far too time-consuming, requiring much effort to prepare work and arrange for solo exhibitions that could take place only once a year. He was, however, full of enthusiasm for the third choice, which was to make "cosas chicas" (small things) such as drawings, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs. He was convinced, he told his wife, that if he had made prints of the "Horrors of Revolution" drawings--a series begun in Mexico in 1926 with the encouragement of Anita Brenner and Jean Charlot--he would already have sold a great many. He added that he would have the first impression of his first lithograph the very next day, March 15.9 Five days later he wrote to tell Charlot how pleased he was with his first print and with the new process, which had turned out to be "a very interesting toy."10

Orozco's first lithograph was Vaudeville, later called Vaudeville in Harlem.11 His choice of a New York scene rather than a Mexican one reflects the artist's enthusiasm for the unfamiliar sights and sounds of the city, as well as his disdain for the current vogue in the United States for picturesque Mexican subjects.12 In addition to the art museums and dealers' galleries of Manhattan, Orozco's explorations of the city took in Harlem and Coney Island, skyscrapers and factories, bridges and subways, elevated trains and monoplane rides, providing him with an array of novel experiences to translate into dynamic compositions on canvas.13 Rendered in sober tones of brown, gray, and bone white with an occasional slash of red or blue, the desolate metropolitan settings of the paintings from Orozco's first year and a half in New York are relatively subdued compared to the apocalyptic vision and vivid colors of the works to come. Although his urban subjects were well received--he was invited to put together a small show of New York pictures for the Downtown Gallery in March - April 1929--for his next lithographs Orozco turned to his "Horrors of Revolution" drawings, which in 1928 had been retitled "Mexico in Revolution" for New York audiences, probably on Brenner's advice.14 When choosing drawings to translate into lithographs, Orozco appears to have deliberately avoided the more brutal subjects such as rape and dynamited trains in favor of drawings with more palatable heroic or melancholy overtones, beginning in May 1928 with The Flag, followed in December by Requiem, and, in 1929, Rear Guard by May 2 and The Family by June 15.15

Requiem was chosen for the fourth annual Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in February 1929.16 As a result, its price soared from $20 to $100 by the end of the year, confirming Orozco's predictions about the salability of lithographs based on his popular drawings of the Mexican Revolution.17 Orozco wrote to Margarita on April 18 about his mounting success: at the opening of his solo exhibition at the Art Students League, the artist John Sloan had told him it "was the best exhibition of paintings he had seen in New York in many years"; paintings and drawings were selling from his Downtown Gallery exhibition; the Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition was beginning its tour, and press notices were arriving from all over; and his lithographs continued to sell well.18 Two days later he wrote excitedly that the Weyhe Gallery had agreed to buy $780 worth of lithographs and wanted him to make more: "I have made only three lithographs in my entire life," he boasted, "and they have already brought me fame and money."19 The main thing keeping him in New York before leaving for Mexico for the summer was the obligation to make more lithographs.20

Orozco finished his fourth lithograph, Rear Guard, before May 2, and he left four more for Miller to print while the artist was in Mexico for the summer: The Family, Hands, The Maguey, and Marching Women are listed on a Weyhe Gallery memorandum dated August 23.21 The memorandum also mentions that the lithographic stone for The Maguey had broken, thus explaining why such a small edition was printed22--and also raising the possibility that, after the extraordinary success of Requiem, Orozco may have decided to switch from zinc plates to stones for all five of the new prints.

For a new batch of five lithographs on zinc completed by the end of October 1929, Orozco turned to the remarkable series of frescoed murals he painted at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in Mexico City between 1923 and 1926.23 He had started to mine this repertory of dramatic imagery in the sketch-like Hands, which reproduces a preparatory drawing for a detail in the 1924 mural panel called Thirsting Men. In Marching Women, executed in an open and airy style reminiscent of the "Mexico in Revolution" wash drawings, he had combined elements from two fresco panels of 1926: the seated woman at the left is loosely based on a figure in The Mother's Farewell, and the departing soldiers and soldaderas (female soldiers) seen from behind are derived from Return to the Battlefields.24 However, each of the five new prints--Three Generations, The Franciscan, Mexican Woman, Mural Detail (Grief), and Soldier's Wife--is a precise transcription of a photograph of a specific detail in one of the Preparatoria panels.25 Orozco again took special care to choose imagery that would appeal to a non-Mexican audience, selecting details that elicit sympathy for the oppressed while avoiding those intended to inspire outrage against the oppressors. Early the next year, Three Generations was selected for the fifth annual Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition by John Sloan.26

On November 2, 1929, Orozco wrote to his wife that the Weyhe Gallery would no longer be the primary agent for his print editions. Instead, he embarked on a series of lithographs for Alma Reed to sell at her new gallery, Delphic Studios.27 Two new prints, Mexican Landscape and Mexican Pueblo, were ready for Miller to print within two weeks.28 As had been the case with only two earlier lithographs (Vaudeville and The Maguey), these dissimilar landscapes were composed expressly for lithography. In style and execution, each represents a departure from the lithographs based on the Mexican Revolution drawings and Preparatoria murals: the graceful outline of the family in Mexican Landscape mimics the compact silhouette of a Holy Family in an Italian Renaissance painting, while the dark-robed women marching in front of the bleached white façades in Mexican Pueblo call to mind the chorus and scenic backdrop in a modern staging of a Greek tragedy. Inditos, a third lithograph designed solely as a print, was delivered to the Weyhe Gallery on New Year's Eve, 1929.29 Orozco may well have drawn this new zinc-which depicts an enfilade of three Indians (and small dog) trudging across a rocky desert bristling with nopal and maguey cactus plants-as a replacement for The Maguey, whose stone had yielded only twenty-two impressions before it broke.

In a letter to Carl Zigrosser dated April 30, 1930, Alma Reed ended with a comment on Orozco's lack of time for lithography: "I do not think that Orozco will make more than one new lithograph for a long while. He is to execute the entire project of the Frary Hall at Pomona College, which will occupy the greater part of 2 years."30 Despite the fact that Orozco was able to finish the Pomona mural by the end of the summer, Reed's prediction proved to be accurate. After returning to New York in September, he received a mural commission at the New School of Social Research that kept him occupied from November 11, 1930, to January 19, 1931, during which time he managed to make only one print, Revolution, based on his painting Revolution of about 1925-28.31 The new lithograph, the last in the retrospective series of prints with Mexican subjects, was chosen for the sixth Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition, which opened on March 2, 1931.32

Unemployed33 and Negroes, the final lithographs Orozco made before returning to Mexico, record aspects of contemporary life in the United States as bleak or brutal as any of the scenes in the "Horrors of the Revolution" drawings. The first was made at the Desjobert lithography workshop in Paris in early September 1932, at the end of Orozco's only trip to Europe. One of the best lithography workshops anywhere, the Atelier Desjobert attracted foreign artists wishing to improve their printmaking skills, including such Weyhe Gallery regulars as Howard Cook, Adolf Dehn, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Though clearly disappointed at having time to make just two prints, only one of which was acceptable, Orozco wrote to tell his wife that he was pleased with what he had been able to learn from the master lithographer. Indeed, the artist's confident use of broad-brushed tusche to rough in the figures in this print demonstrates a newly acquired lithographic skill. The lithograph titled Negroes34 was produced as part of a cooperative print-publishing project launched in 1933 by the Contemporary Print Group, an informal association of like-minded artists intent on using printmaking to address urgent social and political issues of the day. During its brief existence, from February 1933 through late 1934, the group offered subscriptions to two series of prints titled "The American Scene," each made up of six lithographs (a total of ten on stone and two on zinc), which were printed by George Miller and sent out to subscribers at monthly intervals.35 An article in the Art Digest on October 15, 1933, described the group's mission:
Actuated by opposition to the purist idea of "art for art's sake," the group is concerned positively with the belief that art has suffered from a limitation of its influence through its segregation from common human experience. It feels that art can and should appeal to the general masses as well as to the cultivated few, that economic and political phases of contemporary life and the conflict of social forces offer stimulating opportunities to the artist, and that in striving to make his work more socially significant the artist naturally seeks to enlarge his public.36

The article announced the first lithograph as Reginald Marsh's Union Square and listed the five artists to follow as Orozco, Adolf Dehn, Jacob Burck, George Grosz, and George Biddle. Although Orozco's name was next on the list, his print was probably the last in the first portfolio to be sent out, since he was hard at work through the autumn and winter finishing his set of murals at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and would have had little opportunity to work up a stone at Miller's New York workshop until after the completion of the project in mid-February 1934.37 A searing image of four mutilated corpses dangling in flames, Orozco's lithograph was requested for two rival exhibitions held in New York in 1935: An Art Commentary on Lynching, presented under the aegis of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and The Struggle for Negro Rights, sponsored by a consortium of left-wing organizations headed by the John Reed Club and the Artists' Union.38

Mexico, 1934-49

After five and a half years abroad, Orozco returned to Mexico in early July 1934. Over the course of the next fifteen months, in addition to painting the allegorical mural later called Katharsis39 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the artist produced an astonishing series of ten lithographs and whetted his appetite for intaglio printmaking in three drypoints, one etching with drypoint, and one drypoint with aquatint. Orozco learned of the invitation to paint a fresco at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in a letter he received on the eve of his departure from New York. After three decades of intermittent construction the colossal marble fine arts center had been completed in March and was to be formally opened at the end of September. Diego Rivera and Orozco were chosen to paint large murals at opposite ends of an upper level of the skylit main court. Rivera decided to replicate the main portion of Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future, his recently destroyed unfinished mural at Rockefeller Center, which expressed supreme confidence in the ability of humankind to harness modern science and industry to vanquish war, disease, and social injustice. In contrast to the grand symmetry of Rivera's utopian subject, Orozco's mural presented an apocalyptic vision of the contemporary world, purged in a fiery chaos of debauchery, fratricide, and machinery run amok.

Both Orozco's mural and the lithographs he produced upon his return offered a scathing indictment of post-revolutionary Mexico. In the lithographs Orozco gave full rein to well-honed skills in caricature and satire, largely suppressed in earlier prints, to express a dark, Goyaesque view of modern life in the teeming metropolis. In the first two lithographs,40 Tourists and Aztecs and Pulquería, he confronted the tourist craze for popular crafts and vulgar displays of native traditions; in Rocks and Proletarians, the failure of promised reforms; and in Generals, Parade, and The Masses, the dangerous menace of the mindless body politic. Wild Party is related to Women and Machines, two lurid scenes of prostitution Orozco adapted from the Kartharsis mural, which was completed in September 1934.

Having previously ceded the editions of his lithographs to the Weyhe Gallery and Alma Reed, Orozco no doubt relished the idea of having tighter control over the sale and distribution of his new prints. In addition to giving single prints to friends and patrons or selling them directly to local collectors and tourists, he parceled out sets of the new lithographs to two New York galleries, Delphic Studios and J. B. Neumann's New Art Circle, and to two dealers in Mexico City, the sisters Carolina and Inés Amor, who opened the Galería de Arte Mexicano in early 1935, and Alberto Misrachi, who for several years had been operating the informal Galería Central out of his bookshop, Central de Publicaciones.41 The existence of a hitherto unrecorded portfolio cover bearing a variant of the Misrachi gallery name suggests that Orozco may even have contemplated entering into an agreement with Misrachi to market the set of lithographs to collectors in a deluxe format.42 Reproduced in the 2004 catalogue raisonné of Orozco's prints is a page from one of the artist's inventory books on which he has carefully written a numbered list that gives the edition size (ranging from 100 to 130) for each lithograph as well as its title in Spanish and English, as if anticipating sales of complete sets of prints to an international clientele.43

In June 1935 Orozco exhibited four of his five new intaglio prints (three drypoints and a single etching with drypoint) in the Galería de Arte Mexicano's second exhibition, which featured a broad spectrum of Mexican printmakers, including Méndez, Rivera, Siqueiros, and Tamayo.44 Orozco had been hoping to take up etching ever since his early days in New York, when he first conceived of printmaking as a creatively fulfilling means of earning much-needed money. In the letter to Charlot of March 20, 1928, the artist had reported that after seeing some prints by Georges Rouault at J. B. Neumann's gallery, he was inspired to buy copper plates and acids and was learning how to etch and aquatint. As fate would have it, however, he had already completed his first lithograph on zinc (see above) and would soon make his reputation as a printmaker in this medium. In his three new drypoints of 1935 Orozco reversed details from three separate mural projects: Prometheus from the Pomona College project of 1930; Serpents from the Dartmouth College project of 1932-34; and "La Chata," a more accurate transcription of the head of the recumbent prostitute in the Palacio de Bellas Artes mural of 1934 than in the lithograph called Women. The single etching with drypoint, the sketch-like Head and Hands, is an independent study of a model and her hands and was perhaps made by Orozco as an exercise to reacquaint himself with intaglio techniques. The subject of the fifth intaglio print, Two Idle Men--an experiment in drypoint and aquatint--harks back to earlier depictions of workers made between 1929 and 1933.45

Not until 1944 was the artist able to satisfy fully his long-held desire to make etchings. He installed a printing press in his studio in November 1943, and by February he had started working on a remarkable new series of prints for an exhibition of recent works in various mediums that opened at the Colegio Nacional in late September 1944.46 From a dozen new prints, the artist selected ten that would best show off his command of the etching technique, plus working proofs for two of them. Most of the new prints were either studies of women's heads, similar in style to his recent portrait paintings, or circus subjects (loony clowns, frenzied contortionists, and leering acrobats), loosely related to a mural panel in the government palace of the State of Jalisco, sometimes called The Contemporary Circus (or The Carnival of the Ideologies).47 One print, a frantic figure originally called Loca or Madwoman, bridges both themes.48 Barely two months before his death in 1949, Orozco would sign one hundred new impressions of this bravura orchestration of etching, aquatint, and drypoint, for insertion in the deluxe limited edition of the soon-to-appear catalogue of Orozco's works in the collection of Dr. Alvar Carrillo Gil, still today a monument to the artist's legacy as a painter, draftsman, and printmaker.49

John Ittmann, from Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920 to 1950 (2006), pp. 126-143.

1. José Clemente Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, 1921-1949, ed. Tatiana Herrero Orozco (Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 1987); José Clemente Orozco, The Artist in New York: Letters to Jean Charlot and Unpublished Writings, 1925-1929, foreword and notes by Jean Charlot, trans. Ruth L. C. Simms (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974). Excerpts from many of these letters have been published by Orozco's son, Clemente Orozco V., in Orozco, verdad cronológica (Guadalajara, Mexico: Editorial de la Universidad de Guadalajara, 1983). For the date of Orozco's arrival in New York, see the artist's letter to Jean Charlot of December 21, 1927, in which he states that he arrived on Friday night [December 16]; Orozco, The Artist in New York, pp. 26-28. For the date of his return to Mexico City in early July 1934, see C. Orozco, Orozco, verdad cronológica, p. 297, which quotes a newspaper article dated July 19, 1934, stating that Orozco had returned ten or twelve days earlier.
2. The catalogue raisonné of Orozco's prints compiled by the artist's son, Clemente Orozco, presents thirty-one lithographs (one unfinished), nine intaglio prints (two unfinished), and five attributed woodcuts. See Clemente Orozco, José Clemente Orozco: Graphic Work (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004). I question the attribution of the five early woodcuts (pp. 123-24) on the grounds that this medium would have been difficult for an artist who had lost his left hand as the result of an accident in 1904 (see C. Orozco, Orozco, verdad cronológica, p. 35). Regarding the fifth woodcut, Clasped Hands, the assertion in the author's introduction (Graphic Work, p. 2) that the artist's "own words tell us in his Autobiography" that "he did similar prints, like Clasped Hands, probably a woodcut, for the newspaper El Machete in the first two weeks of May 1924," is not clearly supported by the relevant passage in the autobiography, which simply states: "Las ilustraciones fueron aportados por los pintores, pero más especialmente por el mismo Siqueiros, Xavier Guerrero y Clemente Orozco. Eran grabados en madera o fotograbados" [The illustrations were furnished by the painters, but most especially by Siqueiros himself, Xavier Guerrero, and Clemente Orozco. They were woodcuts or photogravures]; see José Clemente Orozco, Autobiografía (Mexico City: Ediciones Occidente, 1945), p. 109. While the arched format of Clasped Hands does closely follow the composition of a mural Orozco painted over an archway in the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in 1923, there is no evidence that he cut the block himself. All other drawings that Orozco furnished to El Machete were reproduced as photogravures.
3. Checklists for the annual Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library. This exhibition was circulated by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, with prints selected by an invited juror. Orozco's lithograph Requiem, 1928, was chosen for the fourth exhibition, which opened at the Art Center in New York in March 1929, by Walter Pach, who had been introduced to Orozco and his work in Mexico in 1922; Tres Generaciones, 1929, was chosen by John Sloan for the fifth exhibition (Art Center, March 1930); and Revolution, 1930-31, the last of the seventeen lithographs, was chosen by Lewis Mumford for the sixth exhibition (Art Center, March 1931). See also "Books and Other Things," Prints 4, no. 2 (January 1934), p. 49, which relates that the American Institute of Graphic Arts chose The Glories of Venus, a novel of modern Mexico by Susan Smith with six illustrations by Orozco, as one of 17 (out of 260) entries for the fourth exhibition of American book illustration, which covered the years 1931-33.
4. Orozco painted murals at Pomona College in Claremont, California, 1930; the New School for Social Research in New York, 1930-31; and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, 1932-34. Between 1928 and 1934 his work was shown in Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Saint Paul, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. For a chronological list of selected exhibitions in the United States, see Dawn Ades et al., José Clemente Orozco in the United States, 1927-1934, exh. cat. (Hanover, NH: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), p. 370 (which omits Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, and Saint Paul). Many of these exhibitions included lithographs.
5. In the chronological review of Orozco's prints presented here, I have revised some of the dates assigned to them in C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work. My revised dates are derived from contemporary Weyhe Gallery and Delphic Studios documents uncovered by Innis Shoemaker (see pp. 29-31 above). I have also made use of press clippings and brochures in the Weyhe Gallery scrapbooks; checklists of Orozco's New York prints published by Reba White Williams in "The Weyhe Gallery Between the Wars, 1919-1940" (Ph.D. diss., City University of New York, 1996), and in Mexican Prints from the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams (New York, privately printed, c. 1998); various contemporary exhibition checklists and reviews; and other sources as cited. I have benefited from three previously published catalogues of Orozco's prints: Justino Fernández, Obras de José Clemente Orozco en la colección Carrillo Gil (Mexico City: Dr. Alvar Carrillo Gil, 1949), which includes twenty-eight lithographs and twelve intaglio prints, supplemented by Dr. Alvar Carrillo Gil, Obras de José Clemente Orozco en la colección Carrillo Gil-México (Mexico City, 1953), which includes five intaglio prints; Jon H. Hopkins, Orozco: A Catalogue of His Graphic Work (Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University Publications, 1967), which includes twenty-nine lithographs and eighteen intaglio prints; and Clemente Orozco V., Catálogo completo de la obra gráfica de Orozco, ed. with notes and introduction by Luigi Marrozzoni (San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1970), which includes thirty lithographs and eighteen intaglio prints.
6. Ades et al., Orozco in the United States, p. 299; J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, February 6, 1928, in Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 101.
7. See Orozco's letter to Charlot, February 23, 1928, in Orozco, The Artist in New York, p. 39. Orozco also reports that making lithographs is expensive, since Miller charges $10 for printing the first twelve proofs and 25 cents apiece thereafter, plus the cost of the paper. The dimension Orozco gives for the plates (26 x 43 cm) does not correspond to the known lithographs he made between 1928 and 1930, suggesting that his earliest experiments with the medium do not survive. Miller is documented as having printed all of the lithographs Orozco made in New York, so Charlot's statement (in Orozco, The Artist in New York, p. 39 n. 21) that the following year Orozco switched to a cheaper printer, with unfortunate results, may apply to Orozco's having authorized the printing of reverse offset editions of many of his lithographs.
8. See Elizabeth McCausland, "Lithographs to the Fore," Prints 7, no. 1 (October 1936), p. 17: "In 1914 the history of lithography as an artists' medium took a new turn when a commercial lithographic printer decided to become an artist lithographer. George Miller, one of the masters of the profession, began doing artists' printing in his spare time. . . . Actually, it was not until 1920 that the medium began to be generally recognized, and the real emergence of lithography has taken place in the past ten years." Walter Gutman, "American Lithography," Creative Art 5, no. 5 (November 1929), pp. 800-804, cites a memorial exhibition of George Bellows's lithographs in 1925 at Frederick Keppel and Company, New York, as contributing to the new interest in lithography.
9. J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, March 14, 1928, in Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 104. A photograph of a section of the actual letter is reproduced in C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, p. 132.
10. J. C. Orozco to Charlot, March 20, 1928, in Orozco, The Artist in New York, p. 44. Orozco adds that he has drawn two more lithographs and will take them to the printer the following day. In his footnote to this letter (ibid., p. 44 n. 28), Charlot states that Vaudeville was Orozco's first lithograph and mistakenly assumes that the two drawings for lithographs referred to by Orozco are Requiem and Rear Guard. Presumably, one of the two lithographic drawings was made for Orozco's second lithograph, The Flag, which I believe to have been completed by May 5, and the other may have been an abandoned second vaudeville composition, for which a preparatory red crayon outline drawing on tracing paper exists. See C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, p. 20, Contortioned Figure I. For the use of red crayon outline drawings in lithography, see Susan Barnes Robinson and John Pirog, Mabel Dwight: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Lithographs (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997), pp. 15-16 and Appendix 2, pp. 161ff., which reproduces the text of "How I Make a Lithograph," an essay written by Dwight at the request of the Federal Art Project. For the order of Vaudeville, The Flag, and Requiem, see note 16 below.
11. In this essay, I use a contemporary published title for each print when known in lieu of the primary titles assigned in C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, which helpfully provides a list of variant titles for each work. As noted in the section of that catalogue titled "Technical Information" (pp. 126-29), the author's primary Spanish titles (and English translations) are taken from his father's own handwritten inventory lists, two of which are headed, respectively, "Litografías antiguas" and "Litografías 1929-1931" (reproduced on pp. 130-31). The purely descriptive character of the Spanish titles on these lists suggests that they are aide-mémoire compilations and do not necessarily represent the artist's definitive titles. In contrast, the pithy English and Spanish titles on the inventory list for the suite of ten lithographs made in Mexico City in 1934-35 (reproduced on p. 132) ring true as titles devised intentionally for these works, as do the Spanish titles on the inventory list for the four intaglio prints of 1935 (reproduced on p. 133).
12. In a letter to Charlot dated February 23, 1928, Orozco speaks of the current "mode de Mexique" as a "farce" and of wanting to wait until "the 'Mexicanist' storm blows over"; Orozco, The Artist in New York, pp. 40-41.
13. Alma Reed, Orozco (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956), p. 128. Gallatin's Gallery of Living Art opened in December 1927 and became one of Orozco's favorite haunts. For his monoplane ride, see J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, October 7, 1928, in Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 135. In José Clemente Orozco: An Autobiography, trans. Robert C. Stephenson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962), chap. 12, the artist gives an account of his early days in New York; a portion of the chapter title captures the flavor: "Harlem. The Yiddish Theatre. Naples in New York." The titles of a number of paintings and drawings on the checklist of the exhibition held at the Art Students League in April 1929 document Orozco's interest in urban subjects.
14. C. Orozco, Orozco, verdad cronológica, p. 210, reproduces the brochure cover of the Downtown Gallery exhibition, New York by José Clemente Orozco, March 26-April 14, 1929, and lists the eleven paintings and two drawings of New York themes. In Orozco, The Artist in New York, p. 75 n. 58, Charlot credits himself and Brenner for coming up with the original title of the series in Mexico as an echo of Goya's "Los desastres de la Guerra." Alma Reed later took credit for giving titles to Orozco's "Mexico in Revolution" drawings, as well as all of the lithographs he made in New York and Mexico; Reed, Orozco, pp. 38, 267-77. However, Brenner did not introduce Reed to Orozco until August 12, 1928, three months after the artist completed his second lithograph; see J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, August 15, 1928, in Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 122. Reed, Orozco, pp. 76-77, describes her arrangement with the Marie Sterner Galleries to exhibit the "Mexico in Revolution" drawings in October 1928 and her agreement with Orozco to become his exclusive agent in October 1929. For a discussion of Brenner's futile attempt to arouse the interest of New York galleries in the "Horrors of the Revolution" drawings and Orozco's adaptation of the drawings for the lithographs, see Anna Indych, "Made for the USA: Orozco's Horrores de la Revolución Drawings," Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 24, no. 179 (2001), pp. 159-62.
15. The dead body in lower left foreground of the drawing that served as the model for The Flag was eliminated for the lithograph; see Indych, "Made for the USA," p. 161. The lithograph now usually called Ruined House was originally the titled The Family, presumably to divert attention from its grim subject.
16. C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, pp. 16-17, lists Requiem as the artist's first lithograph, with The Flag second and Vaudeville third. It should be noted that the Weyhe Gallery catalogue for September 1928 lists both Vaudeville and The Flag, in that order, but omits Requiem. On the undated typed checklist for American Print Makers, Second Annual Exhibition, Catalog of Prints, held at the Downtown Gallery, December 10-31, 1928, the three lithographs appear in the following order: Vaudeville, $15; Flag, $15; Requiem, $20. In a letter to his wife dated May 5, 1928, Orozco writes that he has sent two lithographs (presumably Vaudeville and The Flag) to his friend Genaro Estrada; Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 107. The Carrillo Gil Collection includes impressions of Vaudeville, Flag, Requiem, and Rear Guard inscribed by Orozco to Estrada; see Fernández, Obras de José Clemente Orozco en la colección Carrillo Gil, pp. 52, 54, Litografías nos. 8, 19, 20, 21. In Charlot's footnote to Orozco's letter of March 20, 1928 (Orozco, The Artist in New York, p. 44 n. 28), he recounts that on the day he was introduced to George Miller by Orozco, Orozco "picked up the small edition--as much as he could afford--of Requiem and we went directly to the Weyhe Gallery. Carl Zigrosser, then in charge of the upstairs art section, gave Orozco six dollars per copy cash. This seemed to me a fantastic sum." (In another footnote [ibid., p. 83 n. 64] Charlot indicates that he arrived in New York in October 1928.) The proof of Requiem previously owned by Zigrosser is inscribed by the artist "N.Y. Dec. 1928--To Mr. Carl Zigrosser--José Clemente Orozco." The Zigrosser impression is an undescribed early state, before the "scribbled" crayon work in the lower left corner was covered with solid black litho tusche.
17. Weyhe Gallery records dated March 15, April 12, and April 19, 1929, show that the gallery purchased the entire edition (100) of Requiem. The print is priced at $20 in the checklists for the Downtown Gallery, December 1928, and in Fifty Prints of the Year, March 1929, and at $100 in the catalogue published by the Weyhe Gallery in December 1929. On March 12, 1930, Orozco wrote to his wife that it was selling for $150 to $200 and that people were saying it would go higher; Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 194. The popularity of Requiem raised the price for Orozco's other lithographs.
18. J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, April 18, 1929, in ibid., p. 157.
19. J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, April 20, 1929, in ibid. See also note 21 below.
20. See J. C. Orozco to George Biddle, April 29, 1929 (Biddle papers, Archives of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art): "I will leave for Mexico in 3 or 4 weeks"; and J. C. Orozco to Margarita Orozco, May 5, 1929 (Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 158): "Lo único que me detiene aquí es . . . tengo que hacer varias litografías" [The only thing that keeps me here is . . . I have to make several lithographs].
21. May 2 is the date Orozco inscribed on the proof of Rear Guard that he dedicated to Carl Zigrosser. The Chicago Post of May 21, 1929, reproduced Rear Guard as a lithograph recently published by the Weyhe Gallery. Zigrosser's handwritten note dated May 5, 1929, recording the purchase from Orozco of $780 worth of impressions of Vaudeville, Bandera, and Rear Guard, lists four lithographs "to come" as Franciscan, Family, Three Generations, and Profile [Mexican Woman]; Weyhe Gallery Papers, private collection (hereafter cited as WGP, private collection). A memorandum from Alma Reed to Carl Zigrosser dated June 15, 1929, indicates that ten proofs of Family had been printed by that date, presumably after Orozco's departure to Mexico, but the execution of the other three prints seems to have been postponed until after his return to New York in September (WGP, private collection). See also note 23 below.
22. Zigrosser's handwritten note dated August 23, 1929, lists printing costs for "21 Maguey @ 25 [cents] stone broke" (WGP, private collection). The impression of The Maguey acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1943 (acc. no. 1943.1358) is numbered 10/25, a figure perhaps intended to include preliminary proofs.
23. On October 20, 1929, Orozco wrote to his wife: "hice cuando regresé otras tres litos., con asuntos viejos, de los frescos de la Preparatoria y estoy dibujando otras dos con los mismos" [when I got back I made another three lithos, with old subjects, from the Preparatoria frescoes and I am drawing two more of the same]; Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 169. The impression of Three Generations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which Orozco dedicated to Zigrosser, is dated October 3, 1929, suggesting that it was the first of the five new prints to be finished. A note from Alma Reed to Laura Canade at the Weyhe Gallery dated October 9, 1929, provides documentation that Three Generations, The Franciscan, and Profile [Mexican Woman] had all been completed by this date and states that after Miller had destroyed the plate for The Franciscan, Reed would send it to Zigrosser (WGP, private collection). A subsequent note from Reed to Canade dated October 28, 1929, accompanied proofs of two "new lithos for Mr. Weyhe's approval" and stated that Orozco "will gladly give Mr. Weyhe the plates after Miller has destroyed them." Although unnamed, the two new zinc lithographs (Mural Study and Soldier's Widow) must be the "two more of the same" referred to by Orozco in his letter to his wife. It seems likely that all five new prints were executed on zinc plates.
24. The relevant drawing, murals, and early oil are reproduced in Delphic Studios, José Clemente Orozco, introduction by Alma Reed (New York, 1932), n.p.; and C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, pp. 38, 44.
25. See Orozco, The Artist in New York, p. 18, for Charlot's comments on the stream of letters he received from Orozco in 1928 regarding the photographs the artist wished to have Tina Modotti take of specific mural details. Among the photographs of Preparatoria murals credited to Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, and José María Lupercio in Delphic Studios, Orozco, are five that are cropped to show the exact detail that Orozco used in each of his new lithographs.
26. See note 3 above.
27. In a November 2, 1929, letter to his wife, Orozco explained that the Weyhe Gallery had become unhappy about Alma Reed's new Delphic Studios gallery at 9 East 57th Street, and that the break now left him and Reed free to sell his new lithographs themselves. He added: "Ahora voy a empezar a hacer otras litos. diferentes para tener qué vender a otros interesados" [Now I am going to begin to make other, different lithos. so as to have something to sell to other interested parties]; Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 171.
28. In a November 12, 1929, letter to his wife, Orozco describes anxiously awaiting delivery from the printer of two new lithographs; ibid., p. 173. A note from Reed to Zigrosser dated November 14, 1929, reads: "I am sending you Orozco's latest 2 lithos Mexican Landscape and Mexican Pueblo, both publications of Delphic Studio. Kindly let me know at your earliest convenience if you are interested" (WGP, private collection).
29. A note from Reed to Canade dated December 31, 1929, reads: "This is Orozco's last lithograph. Would you let Mr. Z. see it and then let me know if he wishes to keep it." A note from Reed to Canade dated January 4, 1930, quotes a wholesale price for Inditos as $15, which is "1/2 the publishing price" (WGP, private collection).
30. Letter from Reed to Zigrosser, dated April 30, 1930 (WGP, private collection).
31. The New School murals were dedicated on January 19, 1931. In a January 22 letter to his wife, in which he discusses the amount of money needed to bring her and the children to the United States, he tells her that he is getting ready to paint new pictures and make more lithographs to sell; Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 236. For the painting, see C. Orozco, Orozco, verdad cronológica, pp. 183-84, where it is dated 1920. Renato González Mello, Orozco, ¿Pintor revolucionario? (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 1995), pp. 28, 79, discusses this painting in the context of a small group of related paintings with themes of the Mexican Revolution traditionally dated to the early 1920s, preferring to date them to about 1925-28.
32. On February 2, 1931, Orozco wrote to his wife that he had managed to find time to make the lithograph chosen for the Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition while engaged in the tiring work of the New School frescoes, and that because the plate had been ruined he would have to make a new one, which would take four or five days. Plans to make a new version seem to have been abandoned, since the edition of Revolution was limited to 22 impressions instead of the usual 100; Orozco, Cartas a Margarita, p. 238. C. Orozco, Orozco, verdad cronológica, p. 246, quotes The Art Digest, February 15, 1931, giving the opening date of the Fifty Prints of the Year exhibition, but mistakenly claims that The Art Digest erroneously listed Revolution in place of Requiem. See also note 2 above. One other lithograph, Clasped Hands, of which only four proofs exist, was probably made around the same time as Revolution. See C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, pl. 18, with illustrations of the red chalk outline drawing on tracing paper for this print and a working drawing for a related mural at the Preparatoria (Forearms with Clasped Hands, c. 1923). See also Ades et al., Orozco in the United States, p. 137, fig. 152, Study for East Wall, 1930-31, a rejected composition for a New School mural incorporating a similar design of two clasped hands, indicating that Orozco was revisiting the "clasped hands" motif around this time.
33. In both of her monographs on Orozco, Reed interpreted the subject as a Paris scene. The unpaginated 1932 Delphic Studios Orozco monograph reproduces the lithograph under the title Unemployed--Paris--1932; and Reed, Orozco, p. 250, gives the title as Unemployed and applies to it a phrase used by Orozco in his 1945 autobiography, saying that the subject of the print "reflected Orozco's melancholy impressions of a 'Paris-old, ruined and wretched.'" See Autobiografía, p. 155, for the artist's remarks on Paris in the original Spanish; he does not make any reference to the unemployed. In C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, p. 52, the artist's son relates the lithograph to a painting of a group of out-of-work men made by Orozco in New York in 1930 and quotes a more apropos passage in the autobiography (p. 136) describing those on the streets in the aftermath of the stock market crash as "red-faced, hard, desperate, angry men, with opaque stare and clenched fists."
34. Reed, Orozco, pp. 275-76, mistakenly calls the print "The American Scene," giving it the title of the portfolio. She also makes the doubtful assertion that Orozco produced it as a contribution to the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign, perhaps because of its inclusion in an NAACPsponsored anti-lynching exhibition in 1935 (see note 38 below).
35. After the completion of the two series of prints, subscribers were provided with a pair of linen-covered portfolios to house the twelve prints. Each suite is accompanied by a bi-fold brochure with lists of artists and titles of the prints, a colophon page, and a short introduction. The brochure for Series No. 1 is titled The Contemporary Print Group: The American Scene No. 1-A comment upon American life by America's leading artists, and has an introduction by Suzanne La Follette; the brochure for Series No. 2 is titled The American Scene Series 2-Six lithographs by artists alive to contemporary social forces, and has an introduction titled "The Artist and His Public" by Anita Brenner.
36. The Art Digest 8, no. 2 (October 15, 1933), p. 21. The Philadelphia Museum of Art purchased both suites and the original portfolio covers and brochures for each from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection (1975-36-5-10 and 1975-36-11-16).
37. Reed, Orozco, p. 275, states that the print "was made shortly after Orozco completed the Dartmouth murals." Orozco was honored at a testimonial banquet at the Hanover Inn on February 17; C. Orozco, Orozco, verdad cronológica, p. 286.
38. An Art Commentary on Lynching, Arthur U. Newton Galleries, February 15-March 2, 1935; and The Struggle for Negro Rights, ACA Gallery, March 2-16, 1935. For the events surrounding the two exhibitions and their participants, see Marlene Park, "Lynching and Anti- Lynching," Prospects 18 (1993), pp. 325-48. Orozco was one of only five artists who were represented in both exhibitions, along with Sam Becker, Aaron Goodelman, Isamu Noguchi, and Harry Sternberg. Since Orozco was in Mexico at the time, it is not known who submitted his lithograph.
39. For the evolution of the title of the Palacio de Bellas Artes mural, see Justino Fernández, El arte moderno en México (Mexico City: Antigua Librería Robredo, José Porrúa e Hijos, 1937), p. 229, where it is first called La guerra (War); and Justino Fernández, José Clemente Orozco-Forma e Idea (Mexico City: Librería de Porrúa Hnos. y Cía., 1942), p. 71, where it is called La katharsis. Fernández takes credit for the latter title in Justino Fernández, Arte moderno y contemporáneo en México (Mexico City: Imprenta Universitaria, 1952), p. 364.
40. See Reed, Orozco, p. 275, for a description of the opening exhibition of Delphic Studios in October 1934 in its new quarters at 724 Fifth Avenue, which featured "all the Orozco lithographs published to that date." She names the prints on the "catalogued list of twenty items," including Tourists and Pulquería, stating that "the last two had been made in Mexico upon Orozco's arrival in the summer of 1934, and the Delphic exhibition was their first showing." Reed also mentions having received "the test prints" of the remaining eight lithographs in San Francisco during the summer of 1935, "to all of which I gave titles, as I had, with the artist's approval, to all his previous prints" (ibid., pp. 276-77). As three of the eight lithographs are dated "Sept." on the stone, Reed would have had to receive them sometime during that month or the next. Zigrosser recorded seeing the new lithographs in his diary on October 16, 1935; Carl Zigrosser Papers, Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania (hereafter cited as CZP).
41. For the distribution of Orozco's suite of ten lithographs and four intaglio prints to various dealers, friends, and collectors, see Clemente Orozco, José Clemente Orozco, obra gráfica, catálogo razonado (Mexico City, 1997?), Library of Congress, call no. NE546.07 A4 1997(Case X) [P&P] Copy 1, a volume described as: "Photocopy [from proofs?]; copies of manuscript correspondence, receipts, etc." The photocopied pages of Manuscrito 9, "Distribución," pp. 10, 12, 14, tabulate the distribution of the new lithographs. Four dealers are recorded as having received more than one copy of each lithograph: Carolina and Inés Amor (four copies), Misrachi (one to eight copies), Alma [Reed] (sixteen copies), and Neumann (five copies). Manuscrito 7, "Distribución," p. 3, tabulates the distribution of the four intaglio prints to the same dealers: Alma [Reed] (four to six copies), Neumann (three copies of the three drypoints), Carolina [Amor] (one to three copies), and Misrachi (one to six copies of Chata, Prometeo, and Cabeza y manos; none of Serpientes). Zigrosser noted in his diary on May 23, 1935, that he had visited Alma Reed's apartment and seen an etching by Orozco (CZP). The "etching" he saw was probably either Prometheus (numbered 2/60) or "La Chata" (numbered 2/25), two drypoints that he purchased from Reed in July 1935, both of which are now owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see figs. 5.24, 5.26). Three notes from Reed to Zigrosser, dated July 8, July 18, and August 11, 1935, refer to this transaction; in the latter she informs him that she is "sorry to state that there are positively no more of the Orozco etchings available. He was to have made 60 of one and 25 of the other, but he has decided to do something else and has destroyed the plates. . . . I am holding the two etchings I have at $50 each and am not anxious to sell them."
42. Alberto Misrachi was a prominent publisher who operated a popular international bookstore, Central de Publicaciones, at Avenida Juárez 4, across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. In the mid-1930s he started an informal art gallery in the mezzanine of the bookstore that later became one of the leading galleries in Mexico under the direction of his nephew, also named Alberto Misrachi. See Luis Geller, Alberto Misrachi el galerista: una vida dedicada a promover el arte de México (Mexico City: Editorial Sylvia Misrachi, S.M., 1998), p. 177, which dates the formal opening of the gallery by the elder Misrachi to 1937. Overlooked thus far is an exhibition held at the bookstore of lithographs by Caroline Durieux in July 1934. For the checklist of this exhibition and a discussion of Durieux's brief attempt at starting an art gallery in partnership with Misrachi during the first half of 1933, see Ittmann, p. 123 and p. 275 n. 32 above.
43. Orozco's bilingual list of titles and edition sizes for the ten lithographs is reproduced in C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, p. 132.
44. Exposición de grabados originales presentada por la Galería de Arte Mexicano, June 6-16, 1935; for a reproduction of the brochure cover illustrating the Prometheus drypoint and the page listing Orozco's four prints, see C. Orozco, Catálogo completo de la obra gráfica de Orozco, cat. 35. The four intaglio prints correspond to four untitled works by Orozco listed as nos. 36-39 (three drypoints and one etching).
45. The fifth intaglio print was not put in circulation at the time; see C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, plate 35, Two Idle Men, 1935, and p. 128, for the author's rationale for changing the date of this print from 1944 to 1935. In addition to Orozco's Desjobert lithograph, The Unemployed, 1932, for related subjects see Ades et al., Orozco in the United States, figs. 15, 230, 299, 317.
46. José Clemente Orozco, Textos de Orozco, with an essay and appendix by Justino Fernández, 2d ed. with addenda by Teresa del Conde (Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma de México, 1983), pp. 122-23, gives a list of the sixty-five new prints, drawings, and paintings exhibited by Orozco at the Colegio Nacional, September 25-October 25.
47. Painted in 1937, The Contemporary Circus or The Carnival of the Ideologies is an evenhanded condemnation of Fascism, Nazism, Communism, and the Church.
48. See C. Orozco, Orozco: Graphic Work, p. 116, for illustrations that trace the derivation of this print from Orozco's 1941 portrait of a striking young American artist with a mop of wild hair into a clownish laughing figure.
49. Fernández, Obras de José Clemente Orozco en la colección Carrillo Gil, p. 58, cat. 7, as Loca, 1944.

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