María Izquierdo

Retrato de Juan Soriano, 1939

Oleo / tela
69 x 59 cm

Izquierdo's portrait of the painter Juan Soriano not only typifies her dark palette of the late 1930s, but also documents the artist's friendship with her sitter. Soriano has recalled that he first met Izquierdo in 1934, when he was exhibiting his work in his hometown of Guadalajara. Izquierdo, Lola Alvarez Bravo and José Chavez Morado happened to wander in to the exhibition. Soriano introduced them to his friend and mentor Chucho Reyes, and they in turn persuaded Soriano to move to Mexico City to study and paint. Within an interview with art historian Elizabeth Ferrer, Soriano recalled that he and Izquierdo purchased the paints for the portrait together, and he admired the way Izquierdo drew attention to the centre of the canvas through the bright red strokes of paint on his tie. Izquierdo's portrait captures Soriano gazing dreamily into the distance, dressed in an elegant double breasted grey suit with a handkerchief in his pocket and a cigarette in his neatly-manicured hands. Soriano's heavy shadow reinforces the mood of intimate contemplation. Izquierdo's image bears a close resemblance in mood and pose to Soriano's portrait of the poet Xavier Villaurrutia (1940; Museo Nacional de Arte), and both works seem to express the refined sensibilities of the artists affiliated with the Contemporáneos, in strong contrast to the prevailing worker-artist ethos of the muralists. Izquierdo's portrait of Soriano was included in her 1939 solo exhibition of portraits and still lifes at the Galería de Arte Mexicano. Izquierdo painted a number of her artist friends for the exhibition, including the poet Elías Nandino, the playwright Rafael Solana, and the actress Isabel Corona. Many of these are now lost, and Izquierdo's painting of Soriano thus provides a unique insight into her approach to portraiture in these years.

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

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