Manuel Gregorio Acosta

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Portrait of labor leader César Chávez by Manuel Gregorio Acosta, 1969

Manuel Acosta (1921–1989) was a Mexican-American painter and illustrator who was born into an impoverished family in Aldama, Chihuahua, Mexico, on May 9, 1921. His father, Ramón P. Acosta, had fought in the Mexican Revolution with Pancho Villa, and the Mexican Revolution was a recurring theme in Manuel's paintings. The family moved to El Paso, Texas, United States, in 1924.

Manuel Acosta served in the United States Air Force during World War II, and became an American citizen shortly after discharge. In the fall of 1946 he attended the College of Mines and Metallurgy (now the University of Texas at El Paso), where he studied drawing and sculpture under sculptor Urbici Soler (1890–1953). He then spent a year at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and six months at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before establishing his home and studio in El Paso, Texas.

He was bludgeoned with a lead pipe and murdered on October 25, 1989 by a drunken Mexican national and is buried in the United States at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.


  • Braddy, Haldeen, The Paradox of Pancho Villa, Illustrated by Manuel Acosta, El Paso, Texas Western Press, 1978.
  • Grauer, Paula L. & Michael R. Grauer, Dictionary of Texas Artists, 1800-1945, College Station, Texas, Texas A & M University, 1999.
  • Thompson, William R., El Paso Museum of Art, in American Art Review, December, 2001.