Jose Luis Cuevas, Mexican (1934 - 2017)
Cuevas was born in
Mexico City in 1934. By the age of fourteen, he had illustrated
numerous periodicals and books and had had his first exhibition
in Mexico City. In 1953 Cuevas published La cortina del nopal
(The Cactus Curtain), an article condemning aspects of the Mexican
Mural movement and advocating greater artistic freedom. This philosophy
inspired the founding in 1960 of the group Nueva Presencia, which
he joined for a brief time.
It promoted individual expression
and figurative art reflecting the contemporary human condition.
Cuevas' work was influenced by the graphic
art of Goya and Picasso as well as by Posada and Orozco, whose
representations of deformed creatures, degraded humanity and prostitutes
were of particular thematic interest. Over the years, he has paid
homage to his favorite painters as well as writers, such as Dostoevsky,
Kafka, Quevedo and Sade, in numerous series of drawings and prints.
Cuevas has said that his drawing represents the solitude and isolation
of contemporary man and man's inability to communicate. It is
for this reason that he often distorts and transforms the human
figure to the point of uniqueness.
Cuevas has had solo exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout
the world including the University of Texas, Austin, 1961, the
San Francisco Museum of Art, California,1970, the Museo de Arte
Moderno, Mexico City, 1972, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas,
1974, Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, 1975, Musee d'Art Moderne,
Paris, 1976. His work was included in Four Masters of Line: Jose
Luis Cuevas, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, and Morris Graves,
Musee de la Napoule, France, 1957 and in The Emergent Decade,
Cornell University and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,
1965. Among his many awards are First International Prize for
Drawing, Biennial of Sao Paulo, 1959, First Prize, International
Black and White Exhibition, Lugano, Switzerland, 1962, First International
Prize for Printmaking, Triennial of Graphic Arts, New Delhi, India,
1968, First Prize, III Latin American Print Biennial, San Juan,
Puerto Rico, 1977.
Cuevas was awarded the National Prize for Fine
Arts in Mexico in 1981 and represented Mexico at the 1982 Venice
Biennial. In 1992 the Museo Jose Luis Cuevas was opened in