Maxine Albro lived and worked at the intersection of traditional California culture and the Modernist currents that defined painting in the new world of the 1930's and 1940's. She was born in Iowa (20th January, 1903) but came from a family with Spanish ancestors. As a child, her family moved to Los Angeles. After high school, she moved to San Francisco in 1920, worked as a commercial artist and aspired to more formal artistic training. Between 1923 and 1927, she studied painting in San Francisco, New York and Paris.
She traveled to Mexico, inspired by the burgeoning Muralist movement, studied fresco painting, including instruction from Pablo O'Higgins one of Diego Rivera's assistants. Later, in the 1930's, she worked with Diego Rivera on his mural projects in San Francisco. This led to one of her most important projects, a mural in the Coit Tower in San Francisco, started in 1933 and completed in 1934. She also exhibited at Alma Reed's Delphic Studios gallery in New York in 1931, a huge honor for a young artist. Delphic Studios exhibited the work of the most important Mexican Modernists of this era, including Orozco and Siquiros.
Her work is clean, bright and clear with the strong rounded forms of this era, often depicting the women of Mexico, in particular those of the Tehuantepec region in Oaxaca. Her mural at the Coit Tower, still powerful today, "California Agriculture", is clearly one of the strongest murals produced by an esteemed group of WPA artists. The tower was built of cast concrete in 1933 with a clean Art Deco influenced design. The interior spaces were dedicated to murals, clearly influenced by the Mexican post-revolutionary muralist tradition. WPA (Works Progress Administration) has become a generic term referring to various programs devised between 1933 and 1943 to train and employ workers during the Depression era. Albro joined a group of twenty-six artists, primarily from the California School of Fine Arts who were hired under the Public Works of Art Project, the first of these programs for unemployed artists. Later, during the rest of this decade, she produced murals in public buildings from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to Monterey and San Francisco.
With her incipient fresco training and experience in Mexico, she became a leader in the California muralist movement and one of the first women to achieve such a prominent position. Her work was also highlighted by numerous easel paintings and lithographs. Maxine Albro died 19 July 1966 in Los Angeles but left a vibrant pictorial legacy throughout California.
Bijou Fine Arts was founded by Robert Bijou in La Jolla, California twenty-five years ago. Now located in Santa Barbara, for the past twenty years Robert Bijou has been a passionate collector, consultant, appraiser, and dealer in the area of Latin American art with a particular emphasis on the arts of Mexico. He and his wife, ceramic artist Irma Vega de Bijou, have hosted numerous museum tours of their collection in their Spanish Colonial home, Hacienda del Bosque, and have loaned artwork from their collection to various museums, such as the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Santa Barbara Museum. Robert has frequently provided his expertise to auction houses, collectors and dealers regarding Diego Rivera, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, and many other artists in Mexico and Latin America.
Robert Bijou Fine Arts exhibits at the Hillsborough Antique Show three times each year; his Booths are #512-514.