Raúl Anguiano was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1915 during the height of the Mexican Revolution. Indeed, his life and artwork would be dramatically influenced by the revolution’s spirit. Anguiano’s interest in the arts first manifested when, at the age of five, he began drawing images of famous figures such as Mary Pickford, Pola Negro, Charlie Chaplin, Álvaro Obregón, Venustiano Carranza, and Rodolfo Gaona. By age twelve, Anguiano began formal training at Guadalajara’s Free School of Painting, and from 1928-1933 Anguiano and a group of peers organized the Young Painters of Jalisco.
Anguiano received his first commission in 1932, a mural entitled Socialist Education, which took the form of a 70-meter fresco located at A. Carillo School in Mexico City. Anguiano’s murals were predominantly inspired by the Mexican Revolution and the efforts of Álvaro Obregón. His oils and other works carry themes from pre-Hispanic ruins, landscapes, and the life and customs of the Lacandon Jungle. Anguiano’s work criticized environmental destruction, and he has been credited with educating the public about rural life in Mexico and drawing awareness to the issue of discrimination against indigenous peoples. His painting “La Espina,” which depicts a Lacandon Maya woman digging a thorn from her foot with a knife, is considered to be his greatest masterpiece, and was used to illustrate public school text books in Mexico for many years.
In 1934, Anguiano moved to Mexico City to begin a career as a primary school teacher of drawing and painting at the Mexico School of Art. At this institution, he met the leaders of the Mexican Renaissance movement, Ignacio Asúnsolo and Jose Clemente Orozco. Anguino impressed these artists, and was quickly admitted into their movement. The muralists of the Mexican Renaissance movement were tired of the traditional painting techniques and methods of academia, and aspired to bring to light the social issues facing Mexico rather than mimic old European motifs. Thus, they began painting in a new style of realism that included a critical, authentic Mexican voice.
Anguiano belonged to the second generation of Mexican muralists. Like the first generation, they drew inspiration from their ethnic roots and the political climate of their country while holding to certain traditional cannons. Both generations of muralists created work that transcended artistic expression to define the issues of a generation __.
In 1936, Anguiano began his surrealist period, which lasted a decade. He dedicated much of this time to painting clowns and prostitutes, as well as producing a series of drawings based on his dreams. This period was defined by cold tones with emphasis on the use of silver and grays.
Anguiano also bolstered Mexican culture as a patron to numerous cultural organizations. In 1937, Anguiano joined the Revolutionary Writers. He was also a member of the Mexico City Academy of Arts and the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios, and was named Creator Emeritus of theSistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte. He helped found the Popular Graphics Workshop, La Esmeralda Academy, theInstituto Nacional de Bellas Arts a Bonampak and the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. He also illustrated several books and catalogs and lectured throughout Mexico, the United States and Europe. During an expedition to the Bonampak archeological site, he sketched figures on the murals there, later using them to write a book about the experience called Expedicion a Bonampak (published in 1959).
Anguiano died in 2006 at the Hospital Central Militar in Mexico City after falling ill with heart problems while in Los Angeles, and was interred at the family crypt at the Panteon Jardin.
Anguiano exhibited individually and collectively over one hundred times in museums, galleries and other institutions in countries such as Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, the United States, France, Italy, Russia, Israel, Germany and Japan. Some of his exhibitions during his lifetime included a retrospective in Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, a presentation of a series of four color lithographs held at the Hall of Graphic Arts SAGA 88 from 1989 to 1990 in Paris and a retrospective look at his work in graphics (1938-1940) held at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City in 1990. His creations remain in permanent collections at the San Francisco Museum of Art.