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Jean Charlot thanks, ironically, the fact that José Clemente Orozco has not studied in Europe, since the United States offered him the mechanical elements of his œuvre, and Mexico the dramatic elements. Orozco, in Charlot’s opinion, lives within his generation, but is ahead of it. His work is presented as rebellion and victory, with a monumental quality closer to a Great Symphony, which more closely resembles a musical motif than a book illustration. Charlot points out that in his last murals the multiplicity of colors has completely disappeared so that they tend toward an ascetic ideal. The roots of his production are to be found not in prescriptions or teachings but rather in personal experiences, which explains the author’s attitude. It is not a pessimistic art but it is full of introspection, strength and beauty. In addition, Charlot presents technical records of the murals at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in Mexico City, where he points out which murals were actually destroyed. Included are those murals painted in Orizaba (Veracruz) and the ones at La Casa de los Azulejos [The House of Glazed Tiles] in Mexico City, sponsored by a private collector.
Jean Charlot (1897-1979) studied at the École de Beaux-Arts in Paris. His father was Jewish and his mother Mexican-French. He arrived in Mexico in 1920, and started to illustrate the Mayan excavations of Sylvanus Morley in Yucatán. Charlot was an assistant to Diego Rivera, and became a member of the Sindicato de Pintores, Escultores y Grabadores (SOTPE) [Union of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers]. The artist used the fresco technique in his mural at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in Mexico City. He wrote profusely in periodicals. In this article, Charlot makes frequent reference to the murals of José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria; the accompanying illustrations include sketches, and one of them is dedicated to the mural at the Casa de los Azulejos (the building currently housing Sanborn’s Madero). About the mural completed by Orozco in 1913 in San Juan de Ulúa (the port city of Veracruz), Charlot only mentions that even though it is painted on canvas, it announces his future style. The topic was La Rendición de los españoles en San Juan de Ulúa [The Surrender of the Spaniards in San Juan de Ulúa] and the text contains no illustration of the mural. The Mural is housed at the Museo Naval de San Juan Ulúa.