In La Boca, a neighborhood near the center of the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, one day in March 1890, nuns found a baby in front of the door of the House of Abandoned Children, an orphanage (this is the reason why his exact date of birth is uncertain: March 1, 1890). He lived there until he was adopted at the age of six by Manuel Chinchella and Justina Molina.
Benito Quinquela Martín attended only two years of primary school, because, unfortunately, he had to give up his studies because his parents needed his help. He worked in difficult trades, such as unloading sacks at the port and helping in the family coal store…His only art studies were at the age of 17, he took evening classes in drawing and painting in a local academy under the direction of his only master: Alfredo Lazzari. After 3 years, he presented his first exhibition at the “Ligurian Mutual Aid Society”.
From 1910 to 1930 Quinquela Martín was very active, he created a lot, and he traveled and exhibited in major world cities of Art (Havana, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Madrid, Rome, London ..)
Out of love for his neighborhood, Quinquela donated land in 1933 so that the National Board of Education could build a public school (the school opened in 1936 on the first two floors and a museum of Argentine artists opened in 1938 on the second The last floor remained for Quinquela’s house and studio). He decorated the school hallways with murals. This museum becomes “Benito Quinquela Martín Fine Arts”. Quinquela also made donations for the construction of a theatre, now called Teatro de la Ribera (“Theatre of the River”), a kindergarten, a mother’s milk center and, a children’s dentistry hospital. These places are all decorated with his works. In the 1950s, Benito Quinquela decided to organize an outdoor art gallery space dedicated to artists and artisans. He recreated an old street full of colorful balls along an abandoned train track.
A man of the humblest origins. A fantastic human being whose life brought about a change in the world of painting and his beloved neighborhood of La Boca, where he lived until his death (1977). Benito Quinquela Martín is a great artist of significant recognition and career, an undeniable talent for painting landscapes of ports and port workers, his presence clearly visible throughout the La Boca neighborhood and still alive in memory and the heart of the Argentine people.
Image of title: “In Full Sun” (1940) . Source: flickr / Wally Gobetz
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