José Clemente Orozco, a Mexican social realist painter, was born in 1883. While playing with gunpowder, Orozco lost his left hand as a child and did his paintings with one hand. He married Margarita Valladares, and they had three children. Orozco specialized in bold murals and was one the most complex of the Mexican muralists. The great muralist felt passionate about two periods of Mexican history: The Conquest and the Revolution.
As a boy, he met Jose Guadalupe Posada, whose prints led him to paint. His early work consisted of lithographs of Indian life; interested in mural painting, subsequently achieved complete mastery of his técnica. He made his first solo exhibition in the library Byblos Mexico City in 1916.
The following year he traveled to the United States and lived in San Francisco and New York painting signs. He also painted murals for the Pomona College in California, Dartmouth College and the New School for Social Research in New York. In 1922, he joined Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros in the union of painters and sculptors, trying to recover the art of mural painting under the patronage of government. In 1926, commissioned by the Ministry of Education, he painted in the city of Orizaba, the mural reconstruction in the building currently occupied by City Hall. Later on in his art, he depicts the conquest and its consequences in his famous painting, The Men on Fire.
The second stage starts Orozco mural from his stay in the United States in 1927. Orozco made three important paintings. In New York, which visited a second time, went to work and exhibit their works. He made drawings of scenes of the Revolution and a series of oils, Queensboro Bridge, The Curb, winter, The Subway, which show the character and dehumanized maqui tri-sta of the big city.
After three years of leaving Mexico, the art historian José Pijoan did manage to invite Orozco to Pomona College in Claremont, California, to decorate the Frary Hall. Here he produced one of the most important reasons for his painting in the figure of Prometheus, the mythical hero who bravely takes over to deliver the divine fire to mortals. The central figure of the mural at Pomona College is a great nude: Prometheus winner that will help men to purify. This great figure is the starting point for this new phase of Orozco. This painting is declared indifference, anxiety, love, joy, that is, at this spectacle; few people understand the importance of having the fire. Also in 1930, Orozco painted murals at the New School for Social Research in New York. After class, he was invited to teach the technique of fresco at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he remained until 1934.
On his return to Mexico in 1934 Orozco painted the large rectangular board Palace of Fine Arts entitled Catharsis, located in front of Rivera: The man at the crossroads. It’s a bloody representation of the violent conflict between modern man and the chaotic world that surrounds machining whiles the press. In this world, everything is violence and chaos. From 1936 to 1939, he conducted three large murals in Guadalajara; in the university, in the Government Palace and the Cabañas Hospice. At the University, Orozco decorated the dome and the walls of the amphitheater platform (1936). In the dome, he painted an allegory of man, emphasizing the benefits of education and scientific research. In the Government Palace of Jalisco, Orozco painted a mural that is a historical theme. He unified the walls and ceiling of the staircase, making a kind of triptych dedicated to the struggle for the liberation of Mexico. A painting of Miguel Hidalgo is the major center of this work.