Painters: Man of Fire

His art is apocalyptic. A vision of crushed humanity, rapine, bestiality, murder and death. A man is hanging from a telephone pole, prisoners are being massacred, mothers wail over the bodies of their emaciated children. Reinforcing this vision of inferno are his colors: stark blacks, whites, umbers, reds, yellows, and ghastly phosphorescent greens of putrified corpses.

Such was the bequest of José Clemente Orozco, and in his day his gigantic murals made him the most powerful of Mexico's Big Three.* For his contemporaries, Orozco's work caught the spirit of Mexico, bloodied and...

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