Pedro Coronel (1923-1985)
Pedro Coronel (1923-1985)
Pedro Coronel (1923-1985)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION
PEDRO CORONEL (1923-1985)


PEDRO CORONEL (1923-1985)
signed and dated ‘Pedro Coronel, Paris 67’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45 3⁄8 x 34 3⁄4 in. (115.1 x 88.3 cm.)
Painted in 1967.
Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City.
Private collection, Texas (acquired from the above, April 1970).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
J. Fernández, Pedro Coronel, pintor y escultor, Mexico City, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México no. 74 (illustrated).
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Further details
1 Laura González Matute, “Color, textura y magia en la obra de Pedro Coronel,” in Pedro Coronel: Retrospectiva (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2005), 18.
2 Justino Fernández, Pedro Coronel: pintor y escultor (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1971), 25, 36.
3 Octavio Paz, Pedro Coronel: tableaux et sculptures (Paris: Le Point Cardinal, 1961), n.p.

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Marysol Nieves
Marysol Nieves Vice President, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

We are grateful to Martin Coronel for confirming the authenticity of this work.

Born in Zacatecas, Coronel rose to prominence in postwar Mexico as one of the Generación de la Ruptura, the breakaway group of young artists who challenged the long dominant Mural tradition. The Ruptura artists privileged subjectivity, turning to lyrical and expressive abstraction as they distanced themselves from the social politics and nationalism of the Mexican School. Coronel first traveled to Paris in 1948, and he soon began to adapt the modernist language of the historical avant-garde—notably Constantin Brancusi, Victor Brauner, and Sonia Delaunay—in vibrant canvases that explored cosmic and natural worlds, indigenous and universal mythologies. “At the same time that he reclaimed the deepest roots of pre-Columbian Mexico,” curator Laura González Matute has remarked, he brought together “the enigmatic expressions of the final tendencies of the universal vanguard, Cubism, Expressionism, Orfism, abstraction, and geometry” and conjugated them “with the primitivist, synthetic forms of African and Asian cultures.”[1] In 1959, Coronel won the First Prize at Mexico’s First National Salon of Painting—a coup for the Ruptura generation and a bellwether for abstraction—and he found success at home and abroad over the following decades, exhibiting across Europe, the Americas, and in Japan.
Coronel returned to Paris frequently during his career and spent several months there in the late 1960s, a fertile period that saw increasingly sophisticated chromatic expression. “In the works made in Paris between 1967 and 1968,” critic Justino Fernández observed, “the planes are smooth, although with a certain opaque quality that distinguishes them from those made ten years earlier.” He singled out the present Genesis among Coronel’s works from this time. “There is greater restraint, or refinement, if possible, in a group of paintings from the year 1967,” he continued. “Genesis, Nómadas solares, and Presencia have something in common in their compositions and in the simplification of planes and textures. In Genesis, the synthesis of the main forms, inscribed in an oval, gives grandeur and solemnity to the conception. From the bottom, a column with thorns appears to emerge from which two species of blades break off, one gnarled as if in gestation or development, and at the top the plenitude—the sun?—towards which the lower elements incline. From the conjunction of some forms and others, life will ultimately be born. A beautiful way to express a theme with the minimum of suggestions.”[2]
A universal image of life and creation, Genesis bathes its softly biomorphic shapes in warm, lambent shades of orange, ocher, and pink, the colors suggestively solar and incandescent. The image conjures origins both celestial and cellular, distilling its theme to tones and essences of color, the ultimate subject of his painting. “For Coronel, painting is signification, which is to say matter transfigured by man,” reflected the poet Octavio Paz. “Coronel conceives painting as a constellation of signs, as a language. Yet it is a language that is still in the process of constituting itself, transforming itself from raw into animate material, recovering its autonomy, and freeing itself from its creator. Coronel is not a medium, but a means. Painting, poetry use Coronel to manifest themselves. . . . The work gives him (gives us) another existence.”[3]
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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