Posted on July 9, 2018
Saturnino Herrán showed his talent at an early age. At age 10, he was already amazing at drawing, painting, and draftsmanship (technical drawing - like, drawing bridges and buildings and machines, in detail, in the correct scale).
Herrán is older than 10
in this self-portrait!
- Because, tragically, his father died when Herrán was just 16 years old! He ended up working in a telegraph office during the day and studying painting and drawing at night. He was the breadwinner of the family; but he was so amazing at drawing and painting that he soon earned a scholarship and was able to devote himself to art full-time.
At age 18, Herrán and his family moved to Mexico City, where he studied painting but also began to teach art.
He achieved a lot very early, and he got married and had a child in his twenties - which, again, was very lucky, because, again, there was another tragedy: Herrán died at age only 31! He had some sort of illness or problem with his digestive system, and it was this that killed him.
Here are the sorts of paintings Herrán was able to complete during his short life:
Herrán became a muralist - someone who paints murals. And mural art in Mexico became revolutionary - indigenous - important to developing a pride in Mexico and its traditions - important to developing a national spirit. Here, Herrán explores the combination of Spanish and Indigenous cultures, of the Catholic / Christian religion with homegrown Aztec / Toltec / etc. religions:
Here is some of the influence he was able to exert:
Herrán paved the way for later artists and muralists like Diego Rivera by creating artwork with deep meaning that viewers can relate to. He used watercolor paints over drawings, and in this way he could create mood, achieve naturalistic images, and connect Spanish and European techniques with Mexican Indigenous subjects.
More than anything, Herrán was known for painting Mexican Indigenous people as strong and beautiful heroes, as dignified figures, and peoples and cultures that are worth knowing and honoring.