The first time I saw a painting of Dr. Atl was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York when they mounted their massive show of Mexican art in 1990. The large canvas depicted an erupting volcano in brilliant, almost lurid, colors.
Over the years I've seen a few of his paintings in museums here and they all exhibit his flair for iconic images of nature (mostly volcanoes), his use of intense colors (he invented his own paints, a mix of pastel and oil, which he called 'Atl color'), lively brush technique, and an almost surreal use of perspective.
A show of more than 200 of his works (paintings and drawings) is currently on display at the Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco here in Mexico City. It's one of the best painting shows I've seen here in years--don't miss it.
José Gerardo Murillo was born in Mexico to Spanish immigrants in 1875. He travelled to Europe and was influenced by Impressionist painters and others there. One early portrait in the show could be by Degas, and he surely saw the pointillist works of Suerat and his followers. At age 36, after a traumatic sea voyage, he changed his name to Dr. Atl (Atl is the Nahuatl word for water). He continued to paint, travel the world, write literature, became involved in leftist politics--at one point plotting to assasinate Mexican president Huerta. He conducted a famously scandalous love affair with artist/muse Carmen Mondragón (to whom he gave the Nahuatl name 'Nahui Olin' which she kept for the rest of her life).
Ave. Ricardo Flores Magón N. 1
across from the Plaza de las Tres Culturas – “Square of the Three Cultures”
Cost is only $20.00 pesos
How to get there
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