Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Juan O'Gorman Mural in Patzcuaro

This article was pointed out to me by the author, Tracy Novinger, and contains much more history than I was aware of. The first time I saw the mural was on a walking tour of Patzcuaro with my Spanish teacher when 2-3 weeks of sitting in class was getting to be too much. She taught at CELEP and enjoyed telling the history of the town. The pictorial story of the history is told from top to bottom and they had recently removed the bottom bookshelves to uncover the last part.

The Juan O'Gorman Mural in Patzcuaro

This text of this study was first written and printed as a guide to be used while sitting in front of the Juan O'Gorman mural in Pátzcuaro. One can, of course, best appreciate this remarkable work of art by actually seeing it. Since this is not possible for everyone, here the study is published online with the addition of photos, many of which zoom in to specific details. Enjoy visiting the mural from the comfort of your chair, wherever you may be. Perhaps you will be privileged to someday see this monumental work in person.

Hidden away in the colonial mountain town of Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán, México, is the magnificent Juan O’Gorman mural titled “The History of Michoacán.” It fills the arched north wall of the public library (Biblioteca Pública Federal Gertrudis Bocanegra) on the Plaza Gertrudis Bocanegra.

The building where the library is located was part of an Augustine convent founded in 1576. In 1860 the convent was converted to secular use and in 1882 the state government sold most of it, leaving only the church that now houses the library and the annex now used as a theater. The Gertrudis Bocanegra library was inaugurated in 1938. In February of 1941 Juan O’Gorman began work on the monumental mural, which he completed in February of 1942.

The full Juan O'Gorman mural story by Tracy Novinger


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Patzcuaro is the ex-capital of Michoacan and before that was Tzintzuntzan, a small town nearby dating to the Purhépecha empire in the 1300's. The museum in Patzcuaro is finding ruins in it's back yard that predates history and they are believed to be earlier than the history of Tzintzuntzan. The Purhépecha were one of the indigenous tribes that were not conquered by the Aztecs

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