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Francisco Zúñiga Works Biography

Francisco Zúñiga (1912 – 1998)

Francisco Zúñiga was born in Costa Rica in 1912, and by the age of 13 was working in his father’s studio carving religious figures for local churches. Already inspired by the art of the Renaissance, Zúñiga in 1933 saw a large exhibition of German Expressionism that had a formative influence on him. Winning several national prizes between 1929 and 1935, he moved to Mexico in 1936. The following year he joined the faculty of “La Esmerelda,” the prestigious Mexican School of Painting and Sculpture of the National Institute of Fine Arts, where he taught until 1970. Zúñiga’s impact as a sculptor and painter was immediately evident in exhibitions in Mexico beginning in 1936.

Zúñiga’s first exposure in the U.S. was his inclusion in Thirteen Mexican Artists at the Chicago Art Club in 1941. In 1942, Alfred Barr, Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, purchased a stone sculpture for the permanent collection. In 1943, the Metropolitan Museum in New York acquired two drawings. That year, Zúñiga was included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as an exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Recent Mexican Art, shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art then traveled to Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Baltimore and New Orleans.

Monumental sculptures, drawings and prints by Zúñiga can be found in important museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, the Middleheim Museum in Belgium, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Open Air Museum in Hakone, Japan. In California Zúñiga has exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCLA Sculpture Gardens, University of Southern California, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and San Diego Museum of Art. His works are also included in the collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Phoenix Museum of Art; Costa Rican Art Museum; Museum of Modern Art, Mexico; Latin American Museum of Art, Buenos Aires; Middleheim Sculpture Garden, Antwerp, etc.

The Zúñiga Foundation has published 4 volumes of Francisco Zúñiga: A Catalogue Raisonne written by Ariel Zúñiga, son and biographer of the artist, and head of the Zúñiga Foundation.

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