Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Alfredo Zalce (Mexican 1908-2003)
Alfredo Zalce (Mexican 1908-2003)

Los abogados

Alfredo Zalce (Mexican 1908-2003)
Los abogados
signed 'ALFREDO ZALCE, 1952' (lower left)
oil on masonite
36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 1952.
Lic. José A. del Rio, Mexico City.
José del Bosque A. Galería Artdicré, Mexico City.
Acquired from the above.
Exhibition catalogue, Exposición de arte mexicano, Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Palacio de Bellas Artes, 1953, p. 132 (illustrated).
A. Reed, The Mexican Muralists, New York, Crown Publishers, 1960, p. 147 (illustrated).
A. Hijar, Zalce total, Mexico City, Litográfica Turmex, 1995, p. 37 (illustrated in color).
Exhibition catalogue, Siglo XX: Grandes maestros mexicanos, Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 2002, p. 277 (illustrated in color).
Alfredo Zalce, Michoacán, Gobierno del Estado de Michoacán, DGE Equilibrista, 2002, p. 168-169 (illustrated in color).
Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Exposición de arte mexicano, 1953-1954.
Morelia, Michoacán, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Zalce total, July- September 1995. This exhibition also travelled to Guanajuato, Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato, October- November 1995; Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, December 1995- February 1996.
Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, De artesanos y arlequines: Forjando una colección de arte mexicano, July 2005- January 2007.
Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum, From Revolution to Renaissance: Mexican Arte from the Aaron Collection, April 2007- January 2008.
Chicago, National Museum of Mexican Art, Translating Revolution: US Artists Interpret Mexican Muralists, February- August 2010.
San Antonio, Museo Alameda Smithsonian, Revolution and Renaissance: Mexico and San Antonio, 1910-2010, November 2010- August 2012.

Lot Essay

"I imagine that the artist's mission is to teach people how to see what they don't see," Zalce once reflected, "to teach them the world from different points of view, not least the social and the broadly human."[1] Working in the social realist tradition of the Mexican School, Zalce is renowned for the expressive humanity of his murals and his prolific printmaking. A member of the Communist-aligned Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios and, following its dissolution, the collective Taller de Gráfica Popular, he remained committed to the ideals and goals of the Mexican Revolution--particularly, to the plight of the rural worker--throughout his career. Zalce moved from Mexico City to Morelia in 1950, accepting a position there as Director of the Escuela Popular de Bellas Artes. Two of his most celebrated murals, both at the Museo Michoacano, date from his early years in Morelia: Defenders of National Integrity (1951) and Brother Alonso of the Order of the True Cross (1952).

Zalce's easel paintings retain the strong graphic sensibility and ideological message developed in his prints and murals, pairing clean, almost sculptural lines with subtly variegated patches of color. His subjects are typically drawn from the working classes--bricklayers, laborers, fishermen, loggers--but occasionally, as in the present work, he chose to foreground their oppressors. A rousing image of political injustice, Los abogados takes aim at the systemic corruption of Mexico's legal system, caricatured by four sharp-suited lawyers who shield their faces and portfolios while trampling--literally and figuratively--over the body of a young worker. Anonymous and virtually indistinguishable, the lawyers stride in rhythmic unison, their legs thrust dynamically across the worker's prostrate, all-white form. The vertical compression of the painting--the lawyers, even hunched over, barely fit within the frame--amplifies the feeling of subjugation, symbolically reenacting the social and economic disenfranchisement of Mexico's rural peasantry. The momentum of the lawyers suggestively carries them beyond the space of painting, and their incursion into the real world of the viewer--in a way like contemporary murals-- intensifies the image's immediacy and its raw emotion.

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

1 Alfredo Zalce, quoted in Beatriz Zamorano Navarro, "El devenir de la memoria: las obsesiones creativas de Alfredo Zalce (1908-2003)," Zalce: memoria de lo cotidiano, homenaje aniversario 100, 1908-2008 (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Alfredo Zalce: Secretaría de Cultura del Estado de Michoacán, 2008), n.p.

More from Latin American Art

View All
View All