Apr 28, 2016

Saturnino Herran: A Gift of the Gods

Saturnino Herran (1887 to 1918) came to Mexico City in 1905 to study at the National School of Fine Arts.  He is most famous for murals that draw on Aztec motifs to display the color, life, and masculine beauty of the native Mexican people.

Our Ancient Gods, begun in 1916 and unfinished at the time of his death, was intended for Mexico City's new Teatro Nacional.

El Flechador (The Archer), 1917, is a languid, androgynous youth pointing a phallic arrow off-stage.

El Quetzal (1917) depicts a muscular, naked youth holding a quetzal, the symbol of Mexican national identity.

La Leyenda de Volcanes (The Legend of Volcanoes) tells the aftermath of a forbidden love: the girl's father disapproves, so he turns her into snow, leaving her boyfriend to grieve.

It sounds like a veiled story of a homoerotic romance, doesn't it?

Herran painted a few semi-nude women, too, and he was married when he died, so any same-sex romances he had were strictly closeted.  But he is lauded today as a precursor of the great gay artists of the 20th century, like George Quaintance and Tom of Finland

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