07 February 2011

Zohma & Jean Charlot | 1933

Zohma & Jean Charlot, photographed by Edward Weston, 1933.

Portrait of Jean Charlot by Henrietta Shore, 1927 on view at LACMA.

Although Jean Charlot was born in Paris and descended from parents he later described as “sundry exotic ancestors” – his father, a French businessman reared in Russia, and his mother, with her French, Mexican and Jewish lineage – Charlot was drawn to the Mexican part of his heritage. From the age of two, he was surrounded by pre-Hispanic antiquities.

He studied in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, exhibited in the Autumn Salon, and made the usual training tour of Brittany. In 1920, his mother introduced him to Mexico where he sketched for archeologists excavating Mayan ruins. In 1922, after fighting in the First World War he decided to move to Mexico. He shared a studio with the painter Fernando Leal and became involved in the booming artistic scene promoting wood engraving and lithographic techniques.

He quickly established himself in the art community of Mexico City and befriended Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jose Clemente Orozco, main figures in the Mexican Mural movement of the early twenties known as the Syndicate of Painters and Sculptors. The movement quickly spread to the USA. Charlot is credited by Rivera for reviving and refining the art of true frescoes.

Read the full biography here (Courtesy of the Isaacs Art Center)

Inspiration, Study, Creativity
Fresco, 1967