LUIS ORTIZ MONASTERIO

MEXICO CITY. MEXICO [1906-1990]

Luis was a Mexican sculptor noted for his monumental works such as the Monumento a la Madre and the Nezahualcoyotl Foundation in Chapultepec Park. His work was recognized in 1967 with the Premio Nacional de Artes and was a founding member of the Academia de Artes.

With a career that spanned over sixty years, Ortiz Monasterio is one of the main figures of Mexican sculpture in the 20th century. He is one of few to be active during the dominance of the Mexican muralism movement and one of fewer of the century to be remembered.

The artist began his career in 1927 as a drawing teacher at the Escuela de Maestros Contructores of the Secretaría de Educación Pública, after returned from studies in the United States. He went on to be a long-time teacher of the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas ENAP from 1939 to 1962 and taught at La Esmeralda as well.

In 1928, Ortiz Monasterio returned to Los Angeles to sculpt full-time, having his first individual exhibition at the Book Shop Gallery and a later one at Gump’s Art Gallery in San Francisco. In the 1930s he created a number of sculptures which made him known for their originality of form and texture:El soldado herido (1932), La Victoria (1935), El nacimiento de Apolo (1936) and La Venus (1937) . He had two shows at the Galería de Arte Mexicano an at UNAM in 1935 and 1936. In 1946 he participated in the International Sculpture Exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum, which acquired a work called Cabeza de mujer (1945). Another piece was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

His success in United States brought him back to Mexico, receiving commissions for monumental works. The first of these was El llamado de al revolución in stone, carved between 1932 and 1934. The next in a similar technique, was El esclavo, which has since been lost. Later works include the reliefs for the Benemérita Escuela Nacional de Maestros, the Monumento a los defensores de la ciudad de Puebla (1943), the Monumento a la Madre in Parque Sullivan (1948) the Nezahualcoyotl Fountain in Chapultepec Park, the pórtico for the open air theater of the Plaza Cívica of the Unidad Independencia house complex and the Tigres y Águilas sculpture at the Centro Medico Nacional of IMSS(1963). He also created sculptures for cities such as Xalapa and Acapulco.

The first award for his work was a prize in sculpture from the Secretaría de Educación Pública in 1946. In 1967 he received the Premio Nacional de Artes in sculpture. In 1968 he was a founding member of the Academia de Artes and later received a diploma and medal for his teaching career at ENAP. Posthumous tributes include one in 1992 at the OMR Gallery, and a retrospective in 2011 at the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo.

However, since his career, about fifteen percent of his work is missing or destroyed and much of the rest is in deteriorated condition, especially the monumental works.