María Izquierdo (1902-1955)

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Mi tía mi amiguita y yo

“I avoid…political themes because they do not have expressive or poetic strength, and I think that, in the world of art, a painting is an open window to human imagination.” -María Izquierdo


Coming from a traditional family, Izquierdo married and had two children at a very young age. Izquierdo moved with her family to Mexico City, where her life took a drastic change. She became interested in art and culture and soon left her husband, a military officer.

Retrato y niños

Initially, Izquierdo enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, but she had a resistance to formal training and stopped taking classes. Izquierdo met painter Rufino Tamayo, and the two artists became lovers and shared a studio space for a number of formative years. Tamayo respected Izquierdo’s naïve style of painting, and they both shared a strong respect for imagery of Mexico. Tamayo helped Izquierdo develop watercolor skills, which expanded her painting techniques. Tamayo ultimately married another young artist but this did not deter Izquierdo in her painting pursuits.

Though Izquierdo is often overshadowed, by the iconic Frida Kahlo, Izquierdo was actually the first female Mexican artist to exhibit outside of Mexico in 1930 at Manhattan’s Art Center.

Frida Kahlo and Izquierdo were both photographed publicly in native, Mexican clothing. Izquierdo was denied a major mural commission from the National Palace in Mexico City as a result of Diego Rivera’s assertion that she was not qualified to paint the mural.

Malabrista (circus painting)

Despite Izquierdo’s setbacks, she became known for her use of Mexican colonial style and use of naïve, childhood imagery. Izquierdo did a number of circus paintings, creating a playful and yet melancholy picture.

Horses in the River

Sueño y Presentimiento was one of Izquierdo’s last epic paintings before she had a stroke in 1949. The painting illustrates a premonitory dream of Izquierdo holding her own decapitated head. Izquierdo was of course not decapitated, but her stroke greatly limited her ability to mentally function.

Sueño y Presentimiento

Izquierdo is a prominent figure in Mexican art, and her work is known throughout Latin America, the United States and Europe. Do you think you own a painting by Maria Izquierdo? Contact us. We are the Izquierdo experts.