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Francisco Corzas (Mexican 1936-1983)
Francisco Corzas (Mexican 1936-1983)

Pintor y modelo

Francisco Corzas (Mexican 1936-1983)
Pintor y modelo
signed, dated and inscribed 'Francisco Corzas, 68 Roma VECCHIO PITTORE' (lower left)
oil on canvas
51 x 74 in. (129.5 x 188 cm.)
Painted in 1968.
Private collection (acquired directly from the artist).
Exhibition catalogue, Oils, Watercolor and Lithographs by Francisco Corzas, Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes Departamento de Artes Plásticas, 1972, p. 12, pl. 76 (illustrated).
Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes Departamento de Artes Plásticas, Oils, Watercolor and Lithographs by Francisco Corzas, 29 June-5 September 1972.

Lot Essay

Corzas emerged in the 1950s as part of a group of young artists that defined itself in opposition to the Mexican School and its long-dominant mode of muralism. In the age of La Ruptura, the term coined by Octavio Paz to describe this generational shift, Corzas and others rejected what had become an increasingly institutionalized nationalism in favor of greater aesthetic freedoms and universal, humanist themes. Artists such as José Luis Cuevas, Rafael Coronel, and Lilia Carrillo pursued myriad and often idiosyncratic directions within abstraction and figuration, drawing upon sources ranging from Old Master paintings to pre-Hispanic cosmology. Like many of Mexico’s younger artists, Corzas trained first at La Esmeralda, under María Izquierdo and Juan Soriano among others; he left in 1956 for Italy, where he studied fresco painting and took in the history of Western art, finding affinities from the Renaissance through latter-day Romanticism. Working between Europe and Mexico during the 1960s and 1970s, he devoted himself to the human figure, probing the expressive potential of the nude and the vagaries of self-portraiture.

A double portrait, Pintor y modelo depicts Corzas himself alongside a favorite and enduring subject: the female nude. “I consider [the nude] a language,” he once explained, acknowledging sources from Diego Velázquez to Amedeo Modigliani. “What I look for are the unexpected poses of a woman; what I try to reproduce is the attitude of repose within her body.”[1] Here, Corzas bathes his model in gossamer light, her skin opalescent and her body curved in a coyly suggestive pose, arms slinking across her torso. Framed by masses of dark curls, her face is in shadow, turned away from her interlocutor; his gaze, too, looks into the distance, his model conjured perhaps as much in his imagination as in the flesh. A study of sensuous color, from roseate gold to crimson red, Pintor y modelo relates its subjects through lushly hedonistic tonalities, rendering a painterly drama of desire and artistic creation. “Flesh decays, but the sublimation of lust is eternal,” Luis Carlos Emerich has remarked. “Corzas takes lascivious joy in the imminent putrefaction of the body, not because of age, but as the consequence of man’s libidinous nature. This artist’s decadence, sadistic in a sense, is marked by a certain preciousness; he takes pleasure in an academic portrayal of secret, dying things, the dark, the erotic, and the guilty.”[2]

Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

1 Francisco Corzas, quoted in Cristina Pacheco, “Francisco Corzas: La expresión es la mano,” in La luz de México: entrevistas con pintores y fotógrafos (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1995), 166-67.
2 Luis Carlos Emerich, “La Ruptura: The Turning Point of the 1950s,” Latin American Art 2, no. 4 (Fall 1990): 73.

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