Jean Charlot

Mujer con cántaro, 1922

Oleo / tela
84.5 x 58.5 cm

Jean Charlot moved to Mexico City from Paris in 1921, and began his mural career assisting Rivera on Creation at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. Though aware of the geometric modeling of Rivera’s figures, Charlot had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and had prior knowledge of cubism. The figural modeling and compositional structure of Indian Woman with Jug relate to Charlot’s own mural Massacre in the Templo Mayor (1922-1923), as well as other mural panels he completed at the Secretaría de Educación Pública in 1923. One of those panels, Indian Washerwomen, shows remarkable similarity to Woman with Jug. The central figure holds a bundle of clothing over her head, and the gently undulating landscape in the painting is reduced to a diagonal, zigzagging path dotted by women hanging laundry. Indian Woman with Jug was painted in 1922 in the Coyoacán studio Charlot shared with Fernando Leal. In this work, Charlot reconciles two seemingly antithetical elements, transforming them through complementarity and balance: he paints a costumbrista subject in a modern, abstract style. The tightly packed composition is a study in balance and geometry, exemplifying the "planiste" cubism Charlot had assimilated in Paris. In his notes, he wrote that: "Planarism suppresses all physical representation of volumes: the picture presents a series of flattened surfaces. . .whose relations of color and form suggest the volume . . . ." The monumentalized woman walks toward the viewer, but is set against a progression of lively smaller figures that recede into the distance up a curved mountain path. The geometric massing of the central figure plays off the flattened rendering of the secondary figures. The circular, sienna brown form of the jug sets off the conical shape of the dark mountain on the horizon. The dynamic composition is visually appealing, its dark, flat hues dotted with pink, orange, lavender and beige.

Vide. Adriana Zavala Arte moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten, Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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Francisco Díaz de León Fund