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Alfredo Ramos Martinez
Mexican Early 20th c Painter & Muralist
(1872–Nov. 8, 1946)
Martinez, born in Monterey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 1872, first studied art at the National Academy of Art in Mexico City. Instead of sketching plaster casts, he preferred sketching workmen outdoors. His work drew the attention of Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, while a Mrs. Heart was a guest of the President of Mexico. She became Martinez's patron, and financed his study in Europe. He studied for six years in Paris, where he won recognition for his mural "La Primavera" and became a sucessful portrait painter. In Paris he also met Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and the poet Ruben Dario. After sixteen years in Europe Martinez returned to Mexico, where the Revolution was forming. He was appointed Minister of Education and began to overhaul the Academy. He began open-air schools where artists could paint directly from nature, which had a influence on the young French painter Jean Charlot, and the Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Around 1931 Martinez and his family settled in Los Angeles, where the artist focused on Indian subjects and refined his style of clearly defined forms. Martinez's work was well received and he obtained several commissions for public murals in the Southern California area, and held numerous exhibitions. From 1942 to 1945 Martinez lived again in Mexico, where he painted a series of frescos. In 1945 he returned to Los Angeles to paint a mural over one hundred feet long in the Margaret Fowler garden at Scripps College. Martinez sketched the entire mural and painted a section of it in fresco before becoming ill. He died of a heart attack on November 8, 1946, leaving the mural unfinished. He is today considered one of the fathers of the Mexican mural movement, continued by Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
"Art at Scripps, The Early Years" exhibition catalog, Lang Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, Ca, 1988.