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María Izquierdo

Retrato de María Asúnsolo, 1941

Oleo / masonite
76 x 60 cm
MI044

María Asúnsolo (1916-1999) was a prominent patron of the arts, and member of a family that included sculptor Ignacio Asúnsolo and actress Dolores del Río. In the 1930s and 1940s used her apartment on the Avenida de la Reforma as an art gallery in the effort to promote the work of her friends, including María Izquierdo. Asúnsolo appears to have run her gallery in a highly informal way, as a visitor once noted that due to lack of space, she was storing paintings by Izquierdo, Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros in her bathtub. Asúnsolo commissioned numerous portraits by the leading artists of her day; most of these are now housed in the Museo Nacional de Arte. Izquierdo painted Asúnsolo at least three times, including this vibrant, earthy image. Critics of the day were rather surprised by Izquierdo's portraits of Asúnsolo, perhaps because they varied greatly from the overtly erotic portrayals of Asúnsolo exemplified by the portraits by Siqueiros, Juan Soriano and Raúl Anguiano, which emphasised the contours of Asúnsolo's body and an other-wordly glamour. Izquierdo's portrait of Asúnsolo instead offers a warm and simple testimony to a close friendship between two women. Set off against a warm terracotta background, Asúnsolo wears a red peasant blouse trimmed in white lace and a black ribbon; her silver and coral necklace is identical to one that Izquierdo regularly wore and showed herself wearing. Atypically, this portrait closely resembles the style the artist used when painting self-portraits, giving it a strong sense of affection and familiarity. Asúnsolo was not only a patron of Izquierdo's, but also a loyal friend in the late 1940s when Izquierdo encountered serious problems. She signed petitions in Izquierdo's defense after the notorious cancellation of her mural project in 1945, and helping to organize a subasta of paintings to raise funds for the artist after her stroke in 1948.

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

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