Francisco Toledo

Juchitan, Oaxaca, 1940 - Oaxaca, Oaxaca, 2019

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BIOGRAPHY - FRANCISCO TOLEDO (Mexico City, 1940 - Oaxaca, 2019)

Francisco Toledo considered to himself to be originally from Juchitan, Oaxaca, the land of his cultural and emotional roots, although he was actually born in Mexico City in 1940. According to his own words “I was born in Mexico City by accident […]. One is where feels from.” Toledos's family was native to Juchitan, and both his parents were bilingual, speaking Zapotec to each other at home. His parents, Francisco Lopez Orozco and Florencia Nolasco, resided in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, some time later they moved to Arriaga in Chiapas, from there they moved to Coatzacoalcos and then to Minatitlan in Veracruz, therefore Francisco Toledo lived much of his childhood in Oaxaca and Veracruz. 

When Francisco Toledo was in fourth grade at Jose Maria Morelos School in Minatitlan, he won a drawing contest with a portrait of Benito Juarez, showing since then his ease of drawing. At twelve years old he was sent by his father to Oaxaca to study middle school in the state capital.  He made contact for the first time with visual arts at the Oaxaca School of Fine Arts, in the class and workshop of engraving founded by Arturo Garcia Bustos. In the school library he had his first crucial approaches to art and literature through books. He met the work of artists such as William Blake, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and Rufino Tamayo, among others, as well as the images of Manuel Alvarez Bravo, pioneer of the modern photography of Mexico. Probably at that time Francisco Toledo confirmed his artistic vocation, not only in relation to drawing and painting, but also to photography. According to Toledo's words, “I already wanted to be a painter, I thought that was what I wanted.”

In 1956 he moved to Mexico City where he took the course of lithography that was taught by Pedro Castelar Baez in the Ciudadela (Citadel), who had been a lithographer at the cigar factory El Buen Tono. There was also the Visual Integration Workshop, founded by Jose Chavez Morado in 1949. Later, in 1961, both schools were joined together to create the School of Design and Crafts of the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA). In 1957, also in the Ciudadela, Francisco Toledo made an engraving in the workshop of the Colombian Guillermo Silva Santamaria.

In 1959, through artist Roberto Donis, Toledo met the gallery owner Antonio Souza, and presented with some drawings, watercolors and engravings. Antonio Souza was immediately interested and that same year he organized two individual exhibitions for Toledo: one in his own gallery and another in the Fort Worth Center, in Dallas, Texas. With the proceeds from the sale at those exhibitions, Antonio Souza recommended Toledo to go to Europe and see museums.

In 1960 through his father, Francisco Toledo traveled to Europe; first to Rome and Venice, and then to Paris, where he settled in a student hostel and shortly after in the Maison du Mexique (House of Mexico) at the Cité Universitaire, on the recommendation of Octavio Paz. He established a close friendship with Rufino and Olga Tamayo, based in Paris since 1949. During the first months of Toledo in the French capital, he had their generous support. When Rufino and Olga was about to return to Mexico definitively, Tamayo gave Toledo his work tools, in addition to obtaining economic support for Toledo financed by the Spanish Rafita Ussia. According to the testimony of Jorge Alberto Manrique, who also lived in the Maison du Mexique at the time, Toledo suffered a threat of expulsion because he had refused to paint a curtain with the eagle and the snake for the National Holidays. Representatives of the Mexican government took that refusal as a protest over the imprisonment of David Alfaro Siqueiros. Finally, the board of directors of the Maison du Mexique and the residents prevented Toledo departure. Regarding that incident, Jorge Alberto Manrique wrote the song "The Denied Eagle.” On recommendation of the painter Bona Tibertelli, Francisco Toledo went to work at Atelier 17, owned by renowned British engraver Stanley Hayter. 

In 1962 he traveled to Oslo, Norway, where he stayed for a month and exhibited with Rodolfo Nieto at the Kunstnernes Hus. In 1963 “Premiére Exposition in France by Francisco Toledo, Galerie Karl Flinker” was presented in Paris, with success and good criticism. In 1964 he worked at the atelier Clot, Bramsen et Georges. A lithography printing press whose founder, Auguste Clot, was considered the best engraver in Paris towards the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century, with masterpieces to his credit by Degas, Cezanne, Renoir and Bonnard, among others.

Galleries in the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Germany, Norway and Mexico opened their doors to the work of Francisco Toledo. In 1965 he left Paris and settled in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. In search of its origins, that same year he moved to Juchitan. Since then he began to acquire a strong commitment to his land. He worked in painting, watercolor, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and tapestries that he made with the artisans of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. In 1980 he presented a great exhibition that included the various techniques that he manages at the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico. In 1982 he lived in New York City, he settled in Prince Street, in the heart of SoHo, working mainly pottery. He returned to Europe in 1984 where he lived in Paris and Barcelona for four years. He made a series of lithographs with Poligrafa Editores in Barcelona. He returned in 1988 and settled in Oaxaca. In 1995 he produced a mural known as La Cangrejera for the Club de Industriales in Mexico City. In 2000 he had one of the most important retrospective shows of his career at the Whitechapel Gallery, in London, and at the Reina Sofia National Museum of Art, in Madrid, Spain. He remained in Los Angeles, California from 2001 to 2002.

The Zapotec artist was also dedicated to promoting and disseminating the culture and arts of his home state. In that context he founded Ediciones Toledo, the Institute of Graphic Arts of Oaxaca (IAGO), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca (MACO), the Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center, the El Pochote Cinema Club, the Oaxaca Paper Art Workshop, and the botanical garden of the former convent of Santo Domingo. Francisco Toledo provided support for the protection and conservation of Oaxaca's historical and cultural heritage through the Pro-Oax Foundation, and for ecological projects that protect areas such as Monte Alban and the Papaloapan River.

Francisco Toledo died in Oaxaca on September 5, 2019.

(Sources: 1. Francisco Toledo, Obra 1957-2017, Tomo IV, Fomento Cultural Banamex, 2017; 2. Francisco Toledo: Obras Recientes, Galeria Juan Martin, Galeria Quetzalli, Latin American Masters, 2004; 3. Francisco Toledo, Whitechapel Gallery, London, y Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, 2000)


Francisco Toledo Main Solo Exhibitions


1959 Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City

1959 Fort Worth Art Center, Fort Worth, Texas

1962 Francisco Toledo-Rodolfo Nieto, Kunstnaneshus, Oslo

1962 Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City

1963 Premiére Exposition en France de Francisco Toledo, Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris

1963 Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City

1964 Hamilton Galleries, London

1964 Saidenberg Gallery, New York

1964 Gallery Moos, Geneva, Switzerland

1964 Galerie René Andrieu, Toulouse, France

1964 Galerie Dieter Brusberg, Hannover, Germany

1965 Saidenberg Gallery, New York

1965 Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City

1965 Galerie Karl Flinker, text by André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Paris

1965 Galerie Haaken, Oslo, Norway

1965 Galeria Misrachi, Mexico City

1966 Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris

1966 Galerie Haaken, Oslo, Norway

1966 Galeria Misrachi, Mexico City

1967 Arthur Tooth and Sons Gallery, London

1967 Galerie René Andrieu, Toulouse, France

1967 Galerie Daniel Gervis, text by Henry Miler, Paris

1968 Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City

1969 Galeria Juan Martin, text by Luis Cardoza y Aragon, Mexico City

1970 Toledo: tapices y esculturas,Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City

1970 Jack Misrachi Gallery, text by Ernest S. Heller, New York

1970 Dibujos de Francisco Toledo, Galeria Arvil, Mexico City

1972 45 grabados, Casa de la Cultura de Juchitán, Oaxaca

1972 Casa del Lago, Ciudad de México

1972 Dibujos y ceramica, Galeria Juan Martin, text by Jorge Alberto Manrique, Mexico City

1974 Oils and Gouaches, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York

1975 Presentation of the suite Toledo/ Chilam Balam, Galeria Arvil, Mexico City

1975 Gobierno del Estado de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

1975 Aguafuertes, Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City

1975 Etchings, Martha Jackson Gallery, text by Salvador Elizondo, New York

1975 Exconvento del Carmen, Guadalajara, Jalisco

1976 Francisco Toledo: Guchachi, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York

1976 Toledo/Sahagun, Panarte Fine Arts, Panama

1977 Francisco Toledo: Guchachi, Galeria Arvil, Mexico City, and Exconvento de San Jose, Escuela de Bellas Artes, Oaxaca

1977 Francisco Toledo: Guchachi, Coro de Longh, Houston, Texas

1977 Toledo, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia

1977 Francisco Toledo: Guchachi, Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez, Oaxaca

1978 Toledo: Recent Works, 1977-1978, Everson Museum of Art, text by Ronald A. Kutcha, Syracuse, New York

1978 Eric Makler Gallery, Philadelphia

1980 Sesenta gouaches de 1965, Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1980 Francisco Toledo: mystique de la forme, Centro Cultural de Mexico, Paris

1980 Francisco Toledo: Exposicion Retrospectiva 1963-1979, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

1980 Obras de Francisco Toledo, The Bridge Concourse Gallery, City Hall, Los Angeles, California

1983 Museo Biblioteca Pape, text by Carlos Monsivais, Monclova, Coahuila

1983 Francisco Toledo: ceramica, Galeria de Arte Mexicano, text by Veronica Volkow, Mexico City

1983 Presentation of the suite El Inicio, Galeria Lopez Quiroga, Mexico City

1984 Galeria Clave, Guadalajara

1985 Francisco Toledo: obra grafica y Zoologia fantastica, Nippon Gallery, Tokio

1986 Francisco Toledo: Watercolours, Mary Anne Martin Fine Art, New York

1986 Lo que el viento a Juarez, Galeria Lopez Quiroga, Mexico City

1987 Zoologia fantastica, Museo Regional, Guadalajara, Jalisco; Casa de la Cultura, Puebla, Puebla; Galeria Arvil, Mexico City; Museo de Arte Moderno, Culiacan, Sinaloa; Centro Cultural Tijuana, Tijuana; Galeria Manolo Rivera, Merida, Yucatan; Instituto Cultural de San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas: Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausana, Switzerland; Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina, y Palacio Itamaraty, Brasilia, Brazil

1988 The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago

1988 Zoologia fantastica, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Sao Pablo, Brazil; Museo Camilo Egas, Quito, Ecuador; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas, Venezuela; Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia; Museo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

1988 Francisco Toledo: One Man Show, Latin American Masters, Los Angeles, California

1988 Obra Reciente and presentation of the book: Toledo, pintura y ceramica, Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1989 Francisco Toledo: Paintings and Printmaking, Latin American Masters, Los Angeles, California

1990 Francisco Toledo: Paintings and Watercolours, 1960-1986, Nohra Haime Gallery, New York

1991 Francisco Toledo, Latin American Masters, Los Angeles, California

1991 Francisco Toledo: Obra sobre papel, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia

1991 Zoologia fantastica y obra grafica, Instituto Cultural Mexicano, Washington, D.C.

1992 El mono de la tinta, Galeria del Estado, Xalapa de Enriquez, Veracruz

1993 Francisco Toledo y la literatura, Museo Regional de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco

1993 Francisco Toledo: Selected Prints from the 70's, Iturralde Gallery, Los Angeles, California

1993 Los cuadernos insomnes de Francisco Toledo, Museo Jose Guadalupe Posada, Aguascalientes

1994 Francisco Toledo, Gary Nader Gallery/Consulado de Mexico in Miami, Florida

1995 Francisco Toledo: Retrospective of Graphic Works, Associated American Artists, New York

1995 Francisco Toledo: Nuevo catecismo para indios remisos et auevres choisies, Galerie Matignon 32, París, France

1996 Francisco Toledo (1970-1995), XXV Aniversario de la Galeria Arvil, Mexico City

1996 Francisco Toledo: Paintings and Gouaches, The David Douglas Duncan Collection, Associated American Artists, New York

1996 Lo que el viento a Juarez, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca, Oaxaca

1997 Insectario, 1995-1996, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO); Casa de la Cultura del Itsmo, Juchitan, Oaxaca; Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City, and museums of Tijuana, Culiacan, and Queretaro

1998 Insectario, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO); itinerant to Santiago de Chile and New York

1999 Zoologia fantastica, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, and Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca, Oaxaca

2000 Francisco Toledo, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid

2000 Zoologia fantastica, Casa de America, Madrid, and Circulo de Arte, Barcelona, Spain

2000 Francisco Toledo, Bjennegarard Gallery, Copenhague, Denmark

2001 Los cuadernos de la mierda, Francisco Toledo, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO)

2003-2006 Zoologia fantastica, Homenaje a Jorge Luis Borges, it has been exhibited in thirty eight times in America, Europa and Asia

2004 Francisco Toledo, Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico City

2007 El Maestro Francisco Toledo: Art from Oaxaca, 1959-2006, Princeton University Art Museum, and Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, El Paso, Texas

2008 Bestiario de artropodos y una zoologia variada, Museo de Historia Natural y de Cultura Ambiental, Mexico City

2009 Francisco Toledo, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota, Colombia

2009 Un informe para una academia, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca, and itinerant by paises de America Latina

2010 Francisco Toledo, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Tamaulipas, Matamoros

2010 Zoologia fantastica, Amster Yard Gallery, Instituto Cervantes, New York

2011 Cuento del Conejo y el Coyote, Mexican Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2011 Pinocho, Bestiario y Obra en vidrio, Museo del Pueblo, Guanajuato

2012 Pinocho, Centro Cultural Bella Epoca, Mexico City

2012 Francisco Toledo: el arte de bordar la vida, Museo Franz Mayer, Mexico City; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, y Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca

2013 Fabulas de Esopo, Centro de las Artes de San Agustin, Oaxaca, y Museo-Taller Erasto Cortes, Puebla

2013 Toledo, Museo El Centenario, San Pedro ArteFest, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon

2014 De fabula: Francisco Toledo, obra reciente, Museo Nacional de la Estampa, Mexico City

2014 El maiz de nuestro sustento, Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City

2015 Pinocho, Galeria de la Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico, Mexico City

2015 Duelo, Galeria Juan Martin y Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

2016 Fieltros, Museo de Antropologia de Xalapa, Veracruz

2016 Francisco Toledo: Hecho en Casa, National Museum of Mexico, Chicago, Illinois

2017 Naa'Pia. Yo Mismo, Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca