Raul Anguiano (Mexican 1915-2006)
Raul Anguiano (Mexican 1915-2006)

Desnudo en una fuente

Raul Anguiano (Mexican 1915-2006)
Desnudo en una fuente
signed and dated 'R. Anguiano 1933' (on the lower left)
oil on canvas
39½ x 27¾ in. (100 x 70 cm.)
Painted in 1933.
By descent from the artist.
J.J. Crespo de la Serna, W. George, et al., Raúl Anguiano, Mexico City, Edamex, 1983, p. 51, no. 10 (illustrated).
Exhibition catalogue, Raúl Anguiano: 1915 - 2006, Mexico City, Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, 2006, p. 109, no. 94 (illustrated in color).
Mexico City, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Cincuenta años de obra artística, July 1982 - January 1983.
Mexico City, Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Raúl Anguiano: 1915 - 2006, 30 May - 10 September 2006, no. 94.

Lot Essay

Raúl Anguiano, a member of the second generation of painters of the Mexican School, was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco in 1915. At age twelve, he began taking painting classes at the Escuela Libre de Pintura de Guadalajara, where he was taught by Ixca Farías and José Vizcarra. Rigorously trained in classical methods, the young artist demonstrated exceptional talent for drawing, and studiously copied the works of Italian masters like Raphael, Michelangelo, and Botticelli.

In 1930, Anguiano joined a loosely banded group of writers, poets, artists and intellectuals known as the Bandera de Provincias. The "group without number and without name" comprised the literary vanguard of Guadalajara. The group's founder, Agustín Yáñez, hosted gatherings for members to discuss their interests in advancing the ideas, writing, and art of their day. The Bandera de Provincias established relations and collaboration with the like-minded Los Contemporáneos, the avant-garde "group without a group" based in Mexico City, which resisted accepting the Revolution as the master cultural narrative and sought to construct a vision of mexicanidad that was both cosmopolitan and local. Anguiano's association with the Guadalajara vanguard challenged his foundations in academicism, broadened his intellectual outlook, and influenced his artistic development.

Desnudo en una fuente, executed in 1933, bridges the two distinctive paths of Anguiano's early artistic development. Reflecting his academic training, his subject evokes Botticelli's mythical Venus, who was born from the sea in the form of full womanhood. Anguiano's figure rises up out of a shallow pool of water. Like her mythical counterpart, she symbolizes love and sensuality. The woman is masterfully rendered; the figure's proportions and contours evince the strength of Anguiano's much practiced drawing technique.

Yet in significant ways, Desnudo en una fuente signals Anguiano's break from the strictures of his academic foundations and his assimilation of tenets of Mexican modernity and the interests of Guadalajara's vanguard. The human sexuality of this modern-day Venus, stripped of the classical distancing of Botticelli's goddess, is overt. This woman is not nude; she is naked. To her right, the cactus plant, a phallic symbol in this context, affirms the arousal of sexual desire. Anguiano's pictorial choices--the quotidian outdoor setting, the realistic rendering of the subject, and the placement of the figure in the forefront of the picture plane--transform the model from a timeless, romantic fantasy to a current, tangible reality. Bold, lean, muscular, and confident, Anguiano depicts an indisputably modern woman. Her sleek, bobbed hairstyle belongs patently to the New Woman. Two small potted cacti situate the scene in Mexico and connect the painting to a local, authentic cultural identity, a central aim of modern artists in this era.

In 1934, Anguiano moved to Mexico City, where he further developed his modern realist subjects, such as scenes of the circus. He joined the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR), and later, in 1937, Anguiano was a founding member of the Taller de Gráfica Popular.

Celeste Donovan, Ph.D.

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