Mexican Kitchen


Mexican Kitchen is a lithograph from 1946 by international artist, Jean Charlot (1898-1979). It is pencil signed in the lower right margin and was published by Associated American Artists in an edition of 250. It was printed on cream wove paper by José Sanchez at Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico City. The references are Morse 486 and AAA 855. The image measures 13-15/16 x 9-15/16 inches.

Mexican Kitchen is featured on page 39 in American Prize Prints of the Twentieth Century. Charlot wrote about this image: "The interest centers around the pot of beans cooking over a charcoal fire. While the mother is stirring the beans with a wooden spoon, the little girl is fanning the fire with a fan of woven straw, and the dog enjoys the warmth. It is a scene that I have treated a number of times in differ mediums…" As a muralist and printmaker, Charlot devoted himself to themes of family and the working class, revealing the universality of human nature.

Jean Charlot was born in Paris, France on October 29, 1868. He studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris before serving in the French Army during World War I. His maternal grandfather was a French-Indian mestizo and his mother, Anna, was an artist. After Charlot's father died in 1921, he and his mother moved to Mexico City and he became fascinated with Mexican art and manuscripts and studied the Aztec language. Charlot sketched for archeologists excavating Mayan ruins and he assisted Diego Rivera and other members of the Syndicate of Painters and Sculptors on a series of mural paintings in Mexico City.

Charlot and his mother moved to the United States in 1928. After working in 1929 with lithography printer George Miller in New York, Charlot began a lifetime collaboration in 1933 with Lynton R. Kistler, master lithography printer in Los Angeles, reputedly making the first stone-drawn color lithographs in the United States. Between 1934 and 1935, Charlot worked for the WPA Federal Arts Project and painted murals for the Straubenmuller Textile High School in Manhattan. In 1944, Josef Albers invited Charlot to teach at the Summer Institute of Black Mountain College and, in 1947, he headed the art school at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and worked with Lawrence Barrett printing lithographs. In 1949, he moved to Hawaii where he taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Charlot died in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 20, 1979.

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