Francisco Zúñiga (Mexican, 1912–1998) was a Costa Rican-born Mexican painter and sculptor. Zuñiga studied drawing, sculpture, and engraving at the School of Fine Arts in San Jose, and later studied stone carving in Mexico City, where he became fascinated with the native peoples of Latin America. He began working with muralist Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, and became a teacher at the influential school La Esmeralda, the National School of Painting, Sculpture, and Printmaking, where he remained until his retirement in 1970.

In the 1940s, The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired several of his works. He also co-founded the Sociedad Mexicana de Escultores and the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. During the 1950s, Zuñiga executed a number of works for public monuments, focusing on large-scale reliefs, many of which incorporated Mayan influences. In 1958, he received the first prize in sculpture from the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts. However, beginning in the 1960s, he began focusing more on his own studio projects.

He is best known for his sculptures of women, as well as his focus on themes of motherhood. His massive works were primarily executed in onyx or cast in bronze, and fused classical sculptural methods with indigenous archetypes. His paintings and drawings also showed Western influences, but maintained a clear connection to Pre-Hispanic art.

His numerous awards included an Acquisition Prize at the 1971 Biennial of Open Air Sculpture of Middleheim in Belgium, and he was named an Academic of the Accademia delle Arte e del Lavoro in Parma, Italy. He also won the Elías Sourasky Prize in Mexico, the Kataro Takamura Prize at the 1984 Sculpture Biennial in Japan, and the Premio Nacional de Arte in 1992. Major solo shows held during his career included a retrospective at the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1969, and a tribute to his work at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico in 1994. His works are part of the permanent collections of the San Diego Museum of Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City.

Timeline

1912
Born in Guadalupe, San José, Costa Rica
1931
Awarded the First Painting Prize and the Second Sculpture Prize at the National Exhibition of Plastic Arts, San Jose, Costa Rica
1935
Awarded the First Sculpture Prize, National Exhibition of Plastic Arts, San Jose, Costa Rica
1936
Studied at the Escuela de Talla Directa, Mexico City, Mexico
1957
Acquisition Prize, Sculpture Annual, Mexico City, Mexico
1958
Awarded the prize in sculpture by the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico
1938–1970
Taught at La Esmeralda, School of painting, sculpture and print, Mexico City, Mexico
1984
Received the Kotaro Takamura Prize, Third Sculpture Biennial, Japan
1992
Received the National Award for the Arts, Mexico
1998
Died in Mexico City, Mexico

Exhibitions

2013
Intersections - Molaa Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA
The Legacy Project - Museo de las Américas, Denver, CO
2012
Francisco ZÚÑiga - Museo Nacional de Arte - MUNAL, Mexico City
2008
Francisco Zuñiga, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
2007
Francisco Zuniga: Woman as Icon - Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
2004
Francisco Zuñiga, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
El Muséo de Arte (MARTE), El Salvador, CA
2002
Francisco Zuñiga, Pasquale Iannetti Art Galleries, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1998
Meredith Kelly Latin American Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
Retrospective, The National Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
1997
Sinaloa College, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
Museum of the Archbishop, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
1995
Oaxaca Contemporary Museum, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
1994
Airport Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
National Homage, The Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
1990
Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA (solo)
Brewster Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Sindin Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1987
Regional Museum of Guadalajara, Mexico (solo)
The Pape Museum-Library, Monclova, Mexico (solo)
1986
Musée de l'Orangerie et Jardin des Tuilleries, Paris, France (solo)
1985
National Museum of Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica (solo)
Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
1983
Sindin Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1982
Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI (solo)
1981
Galeria de Arte Misrachi, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
Gallery Theo Waddington, London, UK (solo)
Gallery Levy, Hamburg, Germany (solo)
1980
Galerie D’Endt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo)
Galerie Carpentier, Paris, France (solo)
1979
Salt Lake City Art Center, Salt Lake City, UH (solo)
Gallery Bel Art, Stockholm, Sweden (solo)
1978
Brewster Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA (solo)
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ (solo)
1977
Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, NY (solo)
DeCordova and Dana Museum, Lincoln, MA (solo)
1974
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ (solo)
1973
Santa Barbara Museum, Santa Barbara, CA (solo)
1972
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ (solo)
University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA (solo)
1970
Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, San Diego, CA (solo)
1969
Retrospective, Modern Art Museum, Mexico City, Mexico (solo)
1935
Sculpture Salon, San Jose, Costa Rica

Public Collections

Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
Ponce Museum of Art, Pince, Puerto Rico
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Muséo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Literature

2006
Zúñiga, Ariel. Catalogue Raisonné, Francisco Zúñiga, Volume III: Drawings (1927-1970) & Volume IV: Drawings (1971-1989). Mexico: Fundacion Zúñiga Laborde, 1999
2003
Zúñiga, Ariel. Catalogue Raisonné, Francisco Zúñiga, Volume II: Oil Paintings, Prints & Reproductions. Mexico: Fundacion Zúñiga Laborde, 2003
2002
Prampolini, Ida Rodriguez. Ida Rodríguez Prampolini. Mexico: Fundacion Zúñiga Laborde, 2002
2001
Zúñiga, Ariel. Francisco Zúñiga Travel Sketches 1. Mexico: Fundacion Zúñiga Laborde, 2001
1999
Zúñiga, Ariel. Catalogue Raisonné, Francisco Zúñiga, Volume I: Sculpture. Mexico: Fundacion Zúñiga Laborde, 1999
1980
Echeverria, Carlos. Francisco Zúñiga. Mexico City: Misrachi Art Gallery Editions, 1980
1980
Sheldon Reich. Francisco Zúñiga, Sculptor: Conversations and Interpretations. Tucson: Tucson University Press, 1980
1969
Chumacero, Ali. Francisco Zúñiga. Mexico City: Misrachi Art Gallery Editions, 1969