Monday, April 29, 2013


Alebrije (1977) by Miguel Linares, on display at the Museum of Man in San Diego

Over the weekend, I took a trip down to San Diego. Since I was in the neighborhood, a quick visit to Balboa Park and some of its fine museums was on the schedule. There were plenty of interesting pieces on view, but, today, let's look at a few examples of Mexican folk art, the Alebrijes, colorful nightmare creatures given form in paper mache.

Created by Pedro Linares in the 1930s, these weird creatures were inspired by a fever dream, in which the grotesque critters frolicked within a dream forest and hallucinatory clouds. Throughout the bizarre vision, the creatures kept on repeating the nonsense word "Alebrije". So, upon recovering from the illness, Linares fashioned their likeness out of paper mache, brightly painted.

The tradition has since been passed on through the Linares family and has become a popular form of Mexican folk art, especially in Oaxaca.

Alebrijes by Ricardo and Miguel Linares, on display at the Mingei Museum


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