October 13, 2013


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Lot 81: Francisco Zuniga

Lot 81: Francisco Zuniga

20 Dibujos (20)

Suite of offset lithographs on Grand Aigle Lavis Canson paper in clamshell case
From the edition of 2000

Published by Galeria de Arte Misrachi, Mexico; printed by Litografos Unidos, S.A., Mexico

Each print with signature and date in plate

Each sheet: 18" x 25" (or 25" x 18")

9 prints framed, 11 unframed

Estimate: $5,000 - $7,000
Inventory Id: 8119

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Francisco Zúñiga (1912-1998) was born José Jesús Francisco Zúñiga Chavarría in a small suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica. By the age of 13, Zúñiga assisted his father in the studio by whittling slabs of wood for Santos, traditional religious sculptures of saints and angels for local clients and churches. The European Colonial style in which his father rendered these holy figures clashed with Francisco's aspiration to depict veritable and humanistic forms. Seeking further training, Zúñiga enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in 1927, followed by a move from his native Costa Rica to Mexico City in 1936. While in Mexico, Zúñiga studied ancient artifacts at local museums. The delicately rounded yet stoic forms of Pre-Columbian idols intrigued the artist and confirmed his desire to refine his sculpting skills. He abandoned painting in 1937 by enrolling in the Direct School of Carving (later known as the School of Painting and Sculpture) where he stayed as a faculty member for over thirty years. In 1958 he was awarded the first prize in sculpture from the Instituto Nacional de Belles Artes y Literatura at the Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico.

In Mujer Envuelta con Rebozo (1978), the artist shows his mastery in deriving sentiment from a figure made of impenetrable bronze. The woman is crouched and enveloped head to toe by a traditional shawl. Although only her face and hand is exposed, it is enough to convey a sense of deep introspection. The woman's face is weathered with a series of crevices that form as wrinkles around the curves of her nose, lips, and eyes. To Zúñiga she represents not only an anonymous Mexican woman but also a holy figure full of power that could challenge any traditional Santos. Although the artist ceased to paint he frequently drew and sketched, as he deemed it significant to the formation of all his sculptural works: "Various sketches sensed as sculptures help me to create three-dimensional forms. I am particularly careful of the contours of objects, their projections and depressions, their rhythm of composition, their structure which creates tensions in the interplay of masses in which the play of light and shadows define the contrasts and sinuosities; in which the forms emerge in their full monumentality." In Desnudo Sentado (1969) a large-scale work on paper, the viewer is again presented with the lone female figure seated on a small plinth. She is sage-like and resigned, a contemporary version of the curvaceous Pre-Columbian idols the artist loved. Her full-figured form bows and undulates with the fluid lines of tawny red and orange that outline her frame. Although the women Zúñiga renders may be anonymous, they are unified by the artist's hand in elevating the ordinary woman into the realm of the spiritual and sacred.

Hickman, Ronald. Francisco Zúñiga: An Exhibition of Drawings and Sculpture. Exhibition Catalogue. San Diego: Arts and Crafts Press Printers, 1971. Print.
Reich, Sheldon, and Francisco Zúñiga. Francisco Zúñiga, a Sculptor: Conversations and Interpretations. Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1981. Print.