Who Was Pedro Linares Lopez? A Brief Biography of the Prominent Mexican Folk Artist

Pedro Linares Lopez was one of the most prominent Mexican folk artists of the 20th century, and his work remains highly collectible today. But who was Pedro Linares Lopez? What kind of art did he create? Let’s take a closer look at his biography to find out more about this fascinating individual.

Early Life


Pedro Linares was born in 1906 and spent his early years in Guanajuato, Mexico. Little is known about his childhood, but family lore says that he learned to paint by watching other artists and farmers along with drawing influence from his mother’s embroidery work. During his teen years, Pedro lived with an aunt in Pueblo and also spent some time at a school run by a priest who had experience painting. Once Pedro finished high school, he began working as a painter full-time; much of his work depicted animals such as birds and cats.

The Early Years in Mexico City


Pedro’s early years were spent in Mexico City, Mexico, where he was born in 1906. As a young man, Pedro moved to California and remained there for several years before returning to his hometown to work as an apprentice lithographer. At that time, he started painting on rocks as a hobby with some friends; when they exhibited their works at a local art show, one particular painting became such a big hit that it kicked off Pedro’s career as an artist. It was around that time that he adopted Lopez as his last name—an homage to his father who had died just two months before Pablo Picasso painted Guernica.

Fame and Transition to Commercial Success


During his lifetime, Lopez was perhaps best known for his work as a muralist. In 1938, he completed a commission for murals at Mexico’s National Preparatory School, where he was principal. He also created several large frescoes with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico City. By 1945, however, demand for ceramic pieces that could easily be exported from Mexico to Europe had increased. This focus on ceramics led him to travel regularly to New York and Chicago where there were larger audiences than back home in Mexico City or Guadalajara where he also lived part-time.

Posthumous Acclaim and Influence


To say that Pedro Linares Lopez was under-appreciated during his lifetime would be a massive understatement. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1906, and orphaned shortly thereafter, he began work as a child laborer and never attended school. He later trained to become a tailor, but never made much money from his profession. Still, he managed to begin teaching himself art by imitating images that he saw on postcards and posters. It was around age 35 when his first works were purchased by collectors; it wasn’t until 50 years later that he was widely hailed as an important artist and cultural figure. By then, he had been dead for more than a decade…

A family tradition of cardboard in the Linares family


When Pedro Linares was growing up in rural Mexico, his parents had a cardboard box manufacturing business. Because cardboard boxes are often used to ship food, during harvest season, farmers would often need boxes quickly. The father would be able to run out of their home-based factory and fill customer’s orders by simply drawing on a box that another family member had just cut out. This became common practice throughout his childhood, a tradition that later influenced his artwork.

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