José Clemente Orozco: The Graphic Work

The brochure for "José Clemente Orozco: The Graphic Work" quotes the great Mexican muralist as once saying, "And after all, isn't it possible to make the most marvelous picture with only a pencil on any piece of paper?" The nearly three dozen works in this exquisite little exhibition, now winding down at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, aren't quite that simple — they're mostly lithographs and etchings — but they are an enduring testament to the power of the line. Had Orozco never even embarked on the murals for which he is so well-known, he could have secured his position in art history with these works, presented here in a beautifully designed and illuminated show. Orozco, who was born in 1883 and died in 1949, was first and foremost a humanist, and these graphics give full expression to his broad range of artistic gifts, from an exceptionally empathetic eye to a flair for withering satire and caricature. From a piece as simple and straightforward as the 1929 lithograph Hombre con manos sobre la cara (Man With Clasped Hands), for instance, we learn what it is to bear great suffering, just as the artist's four 1944 etchings of clowns give us a sense of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. And in the 1935 lithograph Turistas y aztecas (Tourists and Aztecs), he pulls off a double whammy by juxtaposing a vibrant native culture with its fat-cat visitors from abroad, a compositional feat that is nothing short of astonishing. Image after image, in fact, confirm Orozco's reputation as "the Mexican Goya." Is there any higher praise? (On display through December 7 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton; call 561-392-2500.)
 
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