Maruja Mallo (5 January 1902 – 6 February 1995) was a Spanish painter. Ana María Gómez González Mallo was born in Viveiro, Galicia, on 5 January 1902. At the age of 22, she moved to Madrid, Spain and was accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando where she met other painters and studied arts between 1922 and 1926. In 1928 Mallo's first exhibition was held at the Madrid offices of the journal Revista de Ocidente and the exhibition was praised for its originality and freshness. According to Shirley Mangini '[a]lthough historians of Spanish avant-garde art locate the origins of the movement in the activities of [Salvador] Dalí, [Luis] Buñuel, [Frederico] García Lorca, and another student at the Residencia, José Bello, Mallo's artistic vision was an important catalyst in the Spanish avant-garde movement." Her paintings of the 1920s represent urban entertainments and sports, composed in complex overlapping arrangements that express the dynamism of modern life. These works, such as La Verbena of 1927, combine sharply defined, smoothly modeled forms with bright colors. One thing that stood out was her shift in the themes of her paintings, such as the importance Argentina had for her as a woman in the mid-twentieth century. Her work became more surrealistic in the early 1930s, including geometric visual language, and she worked in ceramics during this time as well. These themes ranged from fruits to agricultural structures as well as creating ceramic disks with themes of fish and bulls." Her later works show some influence of magical realism and look ahead to pop art. In 1928 Ortega y Gasset organized her first exhibit, which was a success.
Mallo lived in several places in Europe and left for Buenos Aires in 1937. She had traveled to the U.S. and felt more complete and inspired to create new material. She returned to Spain in 1964, where she died in 1995 in Madrid.
Mallo won a number of prestigious prizes during her life. In 1922 she was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. In 1990 Mallo won the Gold Medal of Madrid and in 1991 the Gold Medal of the Xunta de Galicia.
Maruja Mallo was the fourth child of a family with 15 children and would alternate between living with her uncle and his wife. Her parents were both born in Spain and her mother was Pilar Gonzalez Lorenzo and her father was Justo Gomez Mallo. Her father, played a decisive, dominant role in the formation of his children’s life choices and career paths. He was of Kraussist influence. While living with her uncle Ramiro Gonzalez Lorenzo and his wife Juliana Lastres Carrer, who were entrepreneurs and artist, she was influenced early on in her life to create and express herself through artwork.
In a biography by Shirley Mangini, "Mallo's first memories are of Corcubion... She also claimed to recall the markets and romerias, or street fairs," and adds that "it is significant that Mallo's early memories were of street fairs, since they are the subject of her first major series of paintings, the Verbenas." Mallo's art was influenced by when she first saw the Pacific Ocean. Growing up, Maruja Mallo lived in an era of intense political, social, cultural and economic change which also inspired her artwork. It caused her to display a new language that celebrates the female body and sexuality. Her goal was to present women as active members of society and not just muses of sexuality, beauty, and objects. Mallo’s representation of women is to normalize and strongly express the autonomy that a woman deserves in her own life Moreover, Mallo also began using gender references in her paintings as she painted androgynous figures and large mythical females that signaled her freedom from the male-dominated artistic world of Madrid.
In the Surrealist Women An International Anthology by Penelope Rosemont, some information on how Mallo along with Remedios Varo were original influencers of the surrealist movement in Spain. It is also mentioned that Mallo describes her interpretation of surrealism as a process of work that has always existed but we didn’t embrace or acknowledge.
Exile and Historical Significance
Mallo was sent into exile. Because of this, many of her male partners then began to boycott her, and wanted to remove her from the history of Spanish avant-garde. It was not until recently when Mallo was barely mentioned in Spanish texts on art and cultural history. Instead of being acknowledged for her artistic work, she was remembered for instances in her life that did not matter. These included affairs, scandalous behavior, and riding into church on a bicycle during mass. The respect her work was given in Spain followed into Argentina, and she was even asked to speak about her own art, and the evolution of western art. In the press she was praised and became an integral member of the cultural and financial elite. It is said that "Mallo [would] shock her contemporaries with her avant-garde art, she would cause distress among them because she refused to conform to any of the rules the patriarchy attempted to impose on women."
Mallo's artwork can be found at the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia which is Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art.
For the first time since 1948, Mallo's work was exhibited in New York as Maruja Mallo: Paintings 1926- 1952 in 2018 from September 26 -December 1 at Ortuzar Projects project space in Tribeca, New York.
- 1946-, Mangini González, Shirley, (2010). Maruja Mallo and the Spanish avant-garde. Mallo, Maruja. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate. ISBN 9780754669326. OCLC 458583660.
- Mangini, Shirley (2006). "from the Atlantic to the Pacific: Maruja Mallo in Exile". Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature. 30: 85–106.
- Mangini, Shirley (2006). "From the Atlantic to the Pacific: Maruja Mallo in Exile". Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature. 30: 86.
- "Maruja Mallo". Spain is Culture.
- Surrealist women : an international anthology. Rosemont, Penelope. (1st ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. 1998. ISBN 029277088X. OCLC 37782914.CS1 maint: others (link)
- La verbena (1927)
- La kermesse (1928)
- Canto de las espigas (1929)
- La huella (1929)
- Antro de Fosiles (1930)
- Tierra y excrementos (1932)
- Sorpresa en el trigo (1936)
- Figuras (1937)
- Cabeza de mujer (1941)
- Máscaras (1942)
- Serie Las naturalezas vivas (1942)
- El racimo de uvas (1944)
- Oro (1951)
- Agol (1969)
- Geonauta (1975)
- Selvatro (1979)
- Concorde (1979)
- Máscara tres-veinte (1979)
- Airagu (1979)
- Acróbatas macro y microcosmos (1981)
- Acróbatas (1981)
- Protozaorios (1981)
- Panteo (1982)
- Acróbata (1982)
- Protoesquema (1982)
- Razas (1982)
- Viajeros del éter (1982)
- Documentary about Maruja Mallo by RTVE