Francisco Zúñiga, one of Costa Rica and Mexico’s most prominent artists, was a prolific and illustrious draftsman and sculptor. As an apprentice to his father, a sculptor of religious statues, Zúñiga was exposed to art at a very young age and went on to study drawing at the School of Fine Arts in San José. Though he attempted to study art in Europe in 1936, the Spanish Civil War blocked Zúñiga’s plans. He instead went to Mexico, where he studied under Manuel Rodríguez Lozano. Though heavily influenced by the Renaissance, he also often incorporated pre-Columbian motifs into his works.
The subjects of Zúñiga’s works are almost exclusively female figures, often representing women’s powerful strengths as matriarchs. Through his masterful technique he stated, restated and recapitulated the representational figurative narrative of the feminine. Created with line, mass and volume, Zúñiga’s works move toward a universal interpretation of womanhood. Zúñiga described his work as “a continuous representation of femininity” and, like no other artist, he has captured and characterized the archetype of the woman of Southeastern Mexico.
Francisco Zúñiga leaves behind an extensive legacy. His works are held in major museums throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City.
About Francisco Zúñiga
Francisco Zúñiga produced both two- and three-dimensional works in a uniquely regionalized style, combining his classical training with Aztec forms. Though he made some abstract works, Zúñiga was best known for his nude figural works; his favorite subjects were female peasants native to Central America, whose full figures and otherwise “non-ideal” body types he depicted honestly. Zúñiga constantly expanded his practice to include work in new mediums. He made a majority of his sculptures in bronze, but also came to use alabaster, modeling clay, plaster, and marble. At the age of 60, he made his first lithograph. Zúñiga studied under sculptor Oliverio Martinez and painter Manuel Rodriguez Lozano at the Escuela de Talla Directa, though his first instructor was his father, sculptor Manuel Maria Zúñiga.
Costa Rican, 1912-1998, Guadalupe, Costa Rica, based in Mexico City, Mexico