Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Zúñiga and the Timeless Earth Mothers

When Francisco Zúñiga (1912-1998) was a boy in his native Costa Rica, he helped his wood-carver father with the religious statues. It was the doorway which led to his formal art education. He studied oil painting, stone sculpturing and mural painting. He won prizes and commissions early in his career.

At age 23, Zúñiga moved to Mexico for the opportunity to be a sculptural assistant and later a professor at La Esmeralda school. In Mexico, he became enchanted by the pre-Hispanic art he encountered at the Museum of Archeology, Mexico City. This led Zúñiga to an understanding of the native people's history and their stoic acceptance of life - especially the women.

"I begin with an emotion, an attitude, a movement caught by chance, a woman wrapped in thought - sitting, walking, or perhaps leading a child. Among the folk who surround me I find a variety of movements -slow, elegant, rhythmic - close to an animalistic vitality or an antique grace."

Zúñiga depicted the native women like the paleolithic Venus of Willendorf. They are abundant in size and stoic in nature with their bodies firmly anchored in the Earth. They are the ancient goddesses shown in the contemplation of life, community, and motherhood.

The images in this blog are a sampling of Zúñiga's paintings, lithographs, marbles, bronzes and sketches of the eternal woman - the work that made him famous.


  1. I think the Venus of Willendorf is a good comparison. Thanks! Gene