Who Was Benito Quinquela Martín?
On my trip to Argentina we ran across this graveyard with all these famous Argentinians in it. One of them was for a guy named Benito Quinquela Martín. Not knowing who he was, I did a little research.
Benito Quinquela Martín was an Argentine painter born in La Boca, Buenos Aires in early March of 1890. His exact date of birth is unknown as he was abandoned by his parents and left at an orphanage, where he lived the first six years of his life until his adoption. His date of birth is assumed to have been on the 10th of March, judging by his size at the time he was left at the orphanage.
Benito Quinquela Martín is considered to be one of the most famous Argentinean painters, whose works of the ports of Argentina have been on display inNew York, Paris, Madrid, London, and Rome. His art has been described as “a strong expression of activity, vigor and roughness as a display of life in the area of La Boca,” His paintings represent a vibrant and active city, full of life and color.
It is assumed he was six at the time of his adoption to Manuel Chinchella and Justina Molina. Manual an Italian immigrant was a coal distributor, where Benito worked as an as a boy and teenager, experiencing life in the ports of Buenos Ares.
While working in his stepfather’s coal yard Benito Quinquela attended night school where he practiced drawing in the neighborhood of La Boca. At the age of 17, he enrolled in art academy under the instruction of Lazzario Alfredo, where he began to learn painting and started his works of Argentinean ports.
Not long after enrolling in the academy he met post-impressionist painter Pío Collivadino who encouraged him to carry on with his art. Benito sent his first works to the Salón Nacional (National Salon) in 1918, and in 1920 he obtained a second place, from which point his career in art began to take fruition.
Soon after, he was chosen to paint the Pedro de Mendoza’s museum-school in the neighborhood of La Boca, and worked for the Department of Public Works that included a mural in the subway system in Buenos Aires. In 1938, he was inaugurated into the Museo de Bellas de La Boca.
In the 1930’s, with his fame, Benito Quinquela began to donate his time and money back to La Boca. He donated some land for a public school to be built, with the first floor as the school and a museum and his own residence above, in 1933. Benito Quinquela decorated the classrooms with murals and, today, the school is the Museum Benito Quinquela Martin Fine Arts. He also helped found a theater, a clinic, and a children’s dental hospital, all of which are also decorated with his murals.
Benito Quinquela Martín died in La Boca, Buenos Aires in 1977 at the age of 86 and is buried at the La Chacarita Cemetery in the Chacerita neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He is remembered throughout Argentina as one of the country’s greatest painters.
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