Pedro Coronel

Zacatecas, 1921 - Mexico City, 1985

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Pedro Coronel - BIOGRAPHY

Pedro Coronel was born on March 25, 1921 in Zacatecas. He was a painter, sculptor and engraver. Although he started as a sculptor, it was in painting that he had the greatest production and recognition. His artistic creation recovered the deepest roots of pre-Columbian Mexican heritage, at the same time that it brought together the latest avant-garde trends at the time, such as cubism, expressionism, Orphism, abstractionism and geometrism, conjugated with primitivist synthesized forms of African and Asian cultures. He is recognized in the history of Mexican art as a bridge between the Muralist School and the Generation of Rupture.

His interest in sculpture began in his childhood, as he once narrated: “One of the things that perhaps definitely influenced my vocation was the daily contact I had with an old man who made puppets, who modeled puppets (in mud) and I modeled with him. He really was my first teacher. I spent hours making the faces of the different characters.” In his teens he liked to watch the stonemasons work and sometimes they allowed him to help them.

In late 1939, his parents sent him to Mexico City to study sculpture. In 1940, he enrolled in the School of Sculpture and Direct Carving. His teachers were the sculptors Juan Cruz, Romulo Rozo and Francisco Zuñiga. In 1942, after a student strike in which Pedro Coronel participated, the school changed its name to Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado (National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving), known as "La Esmeralda". The learning systems were modified and a high-level teaching group was hired, such as: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Agustin Lazo, Manuel Rodriguez Lozano, Carlos Orozco Romero, Santos Balmori, among others. The last three were his painting teachers. He finished his studies in 1946 and stayed one more year at the school as a sculpture teacher.

Thanks to the support of Diego Rivera, Pedro Coronel obtained financial support to travel to Paris, derived from the classes he taught at the school. On January 10, 1948, he traveled to New York where he spent a few days visiting the museums and waiting for the ship that left for Paris on the 21st of the same month. Already in Paris, he participated in the transcendent post-war moment, came into contact with the latest advanced artistic manifestations and with eminent artists, such as Constantin Brancusi, Victor Brauner, Serge Poliakoff, Ossip Zadkine and Sonia Delaunay, all based in Paris. Pedro Coronel frequented the workshop of the sculptor Brancusi, who sought, among other aspects, the essence of form and at the same time had a great predilection for African and pre-Columbian sculpture. He also met Octavio Paz, with whom he had a long relationship. In 1948 a Paul Klee retrospective exhibition was presented at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, made up of more than 350 works. Pedro Coronel, who until then had been mainly devoted to sculpture, visited the exhibition and when he finished seeing it he decided to start painting. In Klee's work, Pedro Coronel discovered the freedom of shapes and colors, which he conjugated with his indigenous ancestral world, the key to a more pure, poetic and primitive creation.

He returned to Mexico in 1949 for a short time, traveled south to Tehuantepec, and then in 1950 returned to France, visiting Belgium, Spain, and North Africa. In 1952, he returned to Mexico steeped in the experiences and precepts of the European artistic movements. He established in the Juárez neighborhood. One of his neighbors was the writer Juan Rulfo, with whom he had an enriching friendship.

In 1942, Pedro Coronel presented his first solo exhibition at Galería Proteo. In 1959, he won first prize with his painting La Lucha in the First National Salon of Painting, organized by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico City. The jury included: Luis Cardoza y Aragon, Ines Amor, Paul Westheim, Justino Fernandez, Enrique F. Gual, Antonio Rodriguez and Rafael Anzures. The second prize went to Luis Nishizawa, the third to Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, and the fourth to Leonora Carrington. In 1960, the National Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City presented a solo exhibition of his work. In 1961, he presented his first solo exhibition outside of Mexico at the Le Point Cardinal Gallery in Paris. Then he presented a vast retrospective exhibition in Tokyo and Osaka in 1962, which included works made in Japan.

In the late 1960s, Pedro Coronel resided in Paris and Rome. He returned to Mexico and presented an exhibition titled Year One Moon at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970. At that time he installed his studio at his home in San Jerónimo, in Mexico City. In 1971, the monograph Pedro Coronel, Pintor y Escultor by Justino Fernández was published by the Institute of Aesthetic Research at UNAM. Starting in 1977, he spent a few months of each year in Paris.

He made several murals, such as: the mosaic mural for the National Union of Social Security Workers, Tacubaya, Mexico City (1955); the mural at the International Labor Office, Geneva, Switzerland (1974); the mural in the Antonio Gálvez Aiza Center, Mexico City (1975); the mural Don Quixote Cosmic in the Don Quixote Iconographic Museum, Mexico City (1978); the mural  Murmullos de Jade in Seguros América Banamex, Mexico City (1978); the mural for Grupo Pliana, Mexico City (1981); the monumental stained glass ceiling for the new Zacatecas State Congress Palace (1984), among others.

In 1981, he held his last major exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, along with his  art collection, entitled El Universo de Pedro Coronel, which he later donated to the museum that bears his name in Zacatecas in 1983. In December 1984 he received the National Prize for Visual Arts.

Pedro Coronel passed away on March 23, 1985 in Mexico City at the age of 64.

(Source: 1. Pedro Coronel, Retrospectiva, textos por Laura González Matute, Martin Coronel Ordiales, Juan Rafael Coronel Rivera, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes; 2. Pedro Coronel, por Martin Coronel Ordiales, Bital Grupo Financiero; 3. Pedro Coronel, Pintor y escultor, por Justino Fernández, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas de la UNAM)


Pedro Coronel Main Solo Exhibitions


1954 Galería Proteo, Mexico City

1956 Galería Proteo, Mexico City

1959 "Los Habitantes", Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, Mexico City

1959 Instituto Francés de la América Latina, Mexico City

1960 Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, at Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1960 Galería Antonio Souza, Mexico City

1960 Galería José María Velasco, Mexico City

1960 Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, Mexico City

1961 Le Poin Cardinal gallery, Paris

1962 Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, Mexico City

1962 Galería Los Petules, Universidad Veracruzana, Jalapa, Veracruz

1962 Mitsukoshi Gallery, Tokio, Japan

1962 Fujikama-Garo Gallery, Osaka, Japan

1962 "Pedro Coronel, acuarelas, dibujos y kakemonos", Casa de la Cultura Jalisciense, Guadalajara, Jalisco

1964 Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1965 Gallery of Modern Art, Scottsdale, Arizona

1965 Casa de la Cultura Jalisciense, Guadalajara, Jalisco

1965 "Pedro Coronel, 25 años como artista", Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1966 Galería de la Casa del Lago, Universidad Autónoma de México, Mexico City

1966 Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1967 Kiko Galleries, Houston, Texas

1968 Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1970 "Año uno Luna", Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

1971 Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1972 "Lunar Poetics", Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, Texas

1973 Casa de la Alianza Francesa, Mexico City

1974 Galería de la Casa del Lago, Mexico City

1975 "Pedro Coronel, Homenaje Póstumo a Justino Fernández", Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1978 Mex-Art International, La Jolla, California

1979 Mex-Art International, La Jolla, California

1980 "Pedro Coronel, Cuarenta óleos de 1940 a 1980", Galería Comermex de Multibanco Comermex, Mexico City

1981 "El Universo de Pedro Coronel", Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1981 "El Universo de Pedro Coronel", Museo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo León

1981 Galería de Arte Misrachi, Mexico City

1983 El Universo de Pedro Coronel, Exposición permanente, Colegio de San Luis Gonzaga, actual Museo Pedro Coronel

1985 Galería de Arte Ana Luna, Mexico City

1986 "Exposición Homenaje de la obra del pintor Zacatecano Pedro Coronel", Museo Francisco Goitia, Zacatecas, Mexico

1991 "Exposición Homenaje", Galería Torre del Reloj, Mexico City

1992 Loby de la Torre Ejecutiva de Pemex, Mexico City

2005 Pedro Coronel, retrospectiva, Museo Pedro Coronel, Zacatecas