María Izquierdo

Mi tía, un amiguito y yo, 1942

Oleo / tela
138 x 87 cm

Mi tía, amiguito y yo playfully recounts the popular practice of posing for photographs in portrait studios. A woman dressed in the fashions of the Porfiriato and two small children stiffly pose in front of a painted backdrop of trees and a fountain. The little girl in a yellow dress is a self-portrait of Izquierdo, and she links arms with a young boy immaculately dressed in white, with bright red shoes and a matching belt. The decline of photo studios in the 1930s and 1940s—due to the rising popularity of the personal camera—led to great interest and nostalgia for old photographs among artists and writers. The painting as a whole, however, does not appear to be based on any specific photograph. While the self portrait of Izquierdo is similar to a known studio portrait of the artist at age six, no photographs exist that document Izquierdo's aunt or her young friend, and Izquierdo's own family remains uncertain as to their identities. Instead, this may be an imaginary construction synthesizing elements of Izquierdo's childhood with her unique pictorial vocabulary while evoking the mysterious anonymity old photographs exude to the collector and viewer. When exhibited in Izquierdo's 1943 exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, one critic suggested that the figures had an "aire melancolico y muerto". The painting certainly has a pensive feeling in the stern gaze of the aunt and in the way her pointed umbrella cages the young Izquierdo into the scene. In its close attention to the colours and patterns of clothing and jewellery, Mi tía, amiguito y yo also draws inspiration from the nineteenth century provincial portrait artist José María Estrada. Izquierdo wrote enthusiastically about Estrada during an exhibition of pintores jaliscienses held in Mexico City in 1942, and she specifically admired the painter's attention to the details of his sitters' clothing, including lace, pearls, and in one case a child's shoes "de color rojo audaz y fantástico".

Terri Geis, Arte Moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten, Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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