Florencio Molina Campos was born on August 21, 1891, in the house of his mother´s parents in Buenos Aires. His parents, Florencio Molina Salas and Josefina del Corazón de Jesus Campos y Campos, were an integral part of the important families at both local and national levels. As a child, he went to the most prestigious schools. His summer vacations were spent at his father´s ranch (estancia) named Los Angeles, located in an area then called Tuyú, now Madariaga. His love for the men who worked the fields, and the pampa´s landscapes were the source of the images that permeate his paintings. It was in Los Angeles that his vocation was born.
Around 1905 his family moves to La Matilde, an estancia in the province of Entre Ríos, facing the Uruguay river. They also have a house in Concordia, but the boys want to stay in the country, working with the help, visiting the outposts, learning the ancestral art of men working the fields. Don Florencio will remember the boy´s pranks of those years, but it all comes to an abrupt halt when the father dies unexpectedly on March 26, 1907. From that point on, everything changes. Florencio will start to become nostalgic for his lost world, and begins to paint the country life which will make him famous.
The Uruguayan writer and politician, Eduardo Acevedo Diaz wrote “Florencio Molina Campos is one of the guardians of the old Argentina, which I wrote about in my novels ´Ramón Hazaña´ and ´Cancha Larga´.” He went on to describe Molina Campos´ work stating: “Much of his work with the human figures in his paintings has been eulogized, but little has been said of his remarkable depiction of the landscapes of the old pampas. Because the pampa of Molina Campos has not been touched by agriculture. Under his brush, the pampa he represents is lying in repose, beneath an arching sky as vast as the sea, giving us an impression of the silence of life, the thoughtful way that things should be.”
In 1920 he marries Hortensia Palacios Avellaneda, and opens up shop in downtown Buenos Aires. The following year his daughter Hortensia María is born, and in December of that year, he closes his business. His marriage ends in 1924.
In 1926 he has his first exhibition at the Sociedad Rural. It is a great success. The President of Argentina, Marcelo T. de Alvear visits the exhibition and appoints Molina Campos professor of drawing of the Colegio Nacional Nicolás Avellaneda, where he taught for eighteen years, convinced that he was “a better teacher than artist”.
The renowned art critic and academician of Fine Arts, Córdova Iturburu states: “When Molina Campos first exhibited in the Sociedad Rural Argentina, his caricatures of gauchos, executed in pastel prints, produced great interest on the part of the people familiar with rural exhibitions, which was highly unusual. The unexpected was that the artist viewed the gaucho as the gaucho saw himself. He wasn´t the poet´s gaucho, or the historian´s gaucho or the gaucho of the world of fantasy. He identified with them, and saw them through their own eyes, and looked at them with fun and affection.”
According to Pio Collivadino, an influential Argentine painter, his gauchos are “harmoniously deformed”.
In 1931, the well known company, Alpargatas commissions Molina Campos´ first calendar.These calendars continued until 1936, and were reprinted between 1940 through 1944.They quickly become a collectors item among the rural folk.
On the 21st. of June, 1932 he marries Maria Elvira Ponce Aguirre. That year the organizing committee for the Concordia Centenary Celebration asks him to participate with his paintings. Concordia forms part of his memories, as that was where he was happy in his youth, and where his father died. He not only participates in the program, but donates a painting to the local hospital.
In 1939 his drawings are featured in advertising campaigns in the US. Magazine spreads, and billboards are used. In 1943 a Minneapolis company features his work in their calendar. As a result, Molina Campos´ famous gauchos become well known, and decorate Western bars and homes. His painting are now in the “Horse of the Americas” museum at the University of Texas, in Austin. He is also the only foreign artist exhibited in the Charles Russell Gallery in Montana.
Cesáreo Bernaldo de Quirós, one of the most notable Argentine painters of the twentieth century said: “Molina Campos is the creator of the character derived from the legendary gaucho who was glorified as a freedom soldier, a bizarre courageous ‘montonero’ during the civil war. Alone, without teachers or academicians, Molina Campos translates that truth, counting on all he had learned about the open country, the rodeos, the gatherings in the fiestas and the local bars (called Pulperias), and that enormous understanding of the gauchos´ dress, their names and their mounts. That is how he developed his gaucho -- ´The gaucho of Molina Campos´”
In 1942 Walt Disney hires Molina Campos as a consultant to help him with the production of several films set in Argentina. However, the relationship lasted a short time, as Molina Campos objected to the lack of documentary feel to the animation produced in the US. They enjoyed a friendly relationship the rest of their lives, but the opportunity of having his beloved characters re-created by Disney was lost. In any event, his work helped mold films such as “Goofy Goes Gaucho” and “The Flying Gaucho”. He also collaborated in “Saludos Amigos”, a movie narrating Disney´s travels through South America. That year he illustrates “Faust”, by Estanislao del Campo and “Vida Gaucha” a Spanish texbook for US students. He also illustrated an edition of “Tierra Púrpura” by G.H.Hudson, and drew rough drafts for “Martin Fierro” and “Don Segundo Sombra”, He won the CLARIN gold medal, of the Argentine Artists Salon, and in 1956 he acted in the short film called “Pampa Mansa” and attended the Berlin film festival, when it was presented there.
His work was shown in over thirty successful exhibitions in Argentina and the U.S., France and Germany, aided by his fervent admirer Edward Laroque. His paintings can be found in many museums and private collections around the world. He also painted panels for the South American House, in London, a city in which he was admired by many.
Art critic Rafael Squirru wrote, in 1972 “Unlike most, the work of Molina Campos raises the prickly problems of the creator in our medium, from the social significance to his peculiar style. His caricature style, which represents the bulk of his work, obscures in part the transcendental esthetics which governed his work from the very beginning. Although there are few surviving original drawings of Molina Campos, it is evident that which Ingres called ´the integrity of art´ is where his sharp accurate drawings are placed at the service of his own vivid imagery”.
Back from the Berlin Festival, Molina Campos had his last show in Argentina. He showed eighty paintings. It was a great success and most of his work was sold. After the event, Molina Campos died in 1959 from cardiac problems.
He was a member of numerous cultural institutions and an obsessed defender of Homeland Tradition
His friend, Edward Laroque Tinker said, “The world lost a genius that had dedicated his Life to bring happiness to a tense world. What better epitaph could he have had than: ´He made many millions smile´”
Molina Campos was a self-educated man. He never received education nor belonged to any artistic group that may have influenced him. He always considered himself to be a “folk draftsman” and never called himself either artist or painter. He had a deep admiration for the great painting masters and he was overwhelmed by their works, especially after visiting the major European museums.
“I must thank Providence –he said at one point- for allowing me to dare to insist on what does not pretend to call itself painting. Painting in the academic sense, namely, following and adjusting to the technique of Art. I only know that honestly and why not say, irreverently, I have tried to represent what has been peasant life of our Argentine plain as it is in our days.”
As for the materials he used, he started in 1925 with watercolor on drawing paper and followed later with pastel. Tempera was his forte. He finished his profiles with ink, to which he resorted to when he found it impossible to draw fine brush strokes. He also used oil. His surfaces differed; he generally used papers and smooth or rough cardboard, cloth-covered cardboard, wood, chipboard and even ravioli box covers.
“My technique –he said- consists in eliminating details without hesitation that because they do not add anything interesting, only serve to saturate the painting and muddle its real sense. I emphasize what is characteristic and authentic in the gaucho and “his surroundings”, and I bring it almost to a stylizing point. When the gaucho sees himself thus represented he recognizes himself, he finds truth and admits it without distrust because I never show him in unrealistic situations”.
Alpargata’s executive Sherman Ackerman, had the idea of commissioning Molina Campos’ illustrations for their calendar. Six thousand pesos were paid for 12 originals that same year. A relationship began based on the increasing uninterrupted success of the calendars between 1931 and 1936, and 1940 to 1945. In 1961 and 1962 posthumous editions were released. In addition, Molina Campos created seven signboards and thirty four posters, which werereproduced in various sizes and shapes, as New Year Greeting cards, stamps and single sheet calendars that depicted the famous Tiléforo Areco, with symbols of their commercial products Rueda and Luna.
This publicity material, revolutionary at the time, went beyond all boundaries and as people felt that all this represented them, they immediately adopted it. Every “month” remained hanging on the walls of stores, homes and farms. This was the basis for the first Argentine folk picture gallery.
Alpargatas published a last edition in 1974, to commemorate its ninetieth anniversary.. The firm distributed a folder to its clients, with the title A look at an emotional and smiling Argentina that contained reproductions of six of its paintings, with a commentary
by art critic Córdova Iturburu on its back cover.
The famous success attained by Alpargatas with its series of calendars, allowed Molina Campos’ representative and friend to enter into contracts with the Minneapolis Moline Power Implement CO, one of the more important firms of the United States, that produced farming machines and had branches in different countries, including Argentina.
Molina Campos started working immediately in the future “months” and included the company’s latest farming machinery, as well as other old-fashioned machines, as he was given creative freedom by the company to pick his subjects. The company only wished him to create the same type of themes that had made Alpargatas's calendar famous. From 1944 to 1958, he drew a series of calendars. Posters, stamps and playing cards were also made. Some pictures were reproduced in newspapers and magazines. In 1951 due to the amount of orders that arrived to the firm, 12 sheets of that year’s originals were edited.
Text based upon Professor Juan Carlos Ocampo’s biography on Molina Campos. Juan Carlos Ocampo was born in Moreno, Buenos Aires Province and was a founding member of the Florencio Molina Campos Foundation, co-worker in the organization of the Museum Florencio Molina Campos and was its Honorary Director.
(Momentarily, suspended visits to the Museum for Maintenance)
The Florencio Molina Campos museum was inaugurated on November 24, 1979, on the initiative of the Florencio Molina Campos Foundation. It was built specifically as a museum for the purpose of perpetuating the work of the artist.
The museum belongs to the Foundation. It is located in the Moreno district, five blocks away from “West Side” Gaona Highway, and ten blocks away from the Moreno Train Station, former Sarmiento Railway, at N°342, Molina Campos Street, at Victorica corner. The main building, surrounded by a large garden, exhibits the works and objects that belonged to the artist and also houses a library, offices, and other.
Its endowment consists of works that were family inheritance as well as other picturesthat were part of local and foreign private collections. There are 122 works exhibited.
The extraordinary collection donated after Laroque Tinker’s death by Joshua B. Powers and the Laroque Tinker Foundation, gathered by both in the United States, deserves a special mention.
The building of the museum as well as its architectural style was in charge of Professor Juan Carlos Ocampo. Architects Enrique S. Escribano and Oscar R. Lucchini were in charge of the project.
The management of the Museum is the responsibility of Consuelo Güiraldes, the Museum can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 18 hrs .
The Florencio Molina Campos Foundation was created in 1969 to take care, preserve and make the artist’s work known by means of exhibits, events and general media. The dissemination of his work allows for the understanding of Argentine culture in its original, unique and valuable sense. The Molina Campos Foundation is directed towards the comprehension and promulgation of what is ours and native to us within our country and abroad. The first Board of Directors was formed as follows: President, Enrique Viacava; Vice-president, Horacio Ballester; Secretary, Emilio Villalba Welsh; Treasurer, Jose Ovidio Mayorga; Members, María Elvira Ponce Aguirre de Guiñazú (Elvirita), Florencia Aguirre de Güiraldes, Víctor Manuel Guiñazú, Frank Arnott, Fermín Estrella Gutiérrez; Surrogate members: Merthabell Willson Cook, Elena Zara de Decurguez, Juan Carlos Ocampo and Pedro Sofia.
The Florencio Molina Campos Foundation was created in 1969 to take care, preserve and make the artist’s work known by means of exhibits, events and general media.
The dissemination of his work allows for the understanding of Argentine culture in its original, unique and valuable sense. The Molina Campos Foundation is directed towards the comprehension and promulgation of what is ours and native to us within our country and abroad.
The first Board of Directors was formed as follows:
President, Enrique Viacava; Vice-president, Horacio Ballester; Secretary, Emilio Villalba Welsh; Treasurer, Jose Ovidio Mayorga; Members, María Elvira Ponce Aguirre de Guiñazú (Elvirita), Florencia Aguirre de Güiraldes, Víctor Manuel Guiñazú, Frank Arnott, Fermín Estrella Gutiérrez; Surrogate members: Merthabell Willson Cook, Elena Zara de Decurguez, Juan Carlos Ocampo and Pedro Sofia.
The three murals that are found in the Constitución Station of Line C,
opened on July 2, 1998 and are replica
of works that were included in the almanacs published by "Alpargatas" between 1930 to 1940.
Ceramic Mural (2,20 x 3,45 m).
Florencio Molina Campos is perhaps the greatest painter of the gaucho traditions of the Argentine countryside.His paintings reflect the customs of our countrywomen and countrymen; amusements of the people of those huge and sparsely populated plains; the luxuries of life shared with animals, especially the horse, reflected in the pilchas and tools; the playfulness of campers, always attentive to detail funny.Molina Campos shows the skills that you need to have to live in the midst of nature, using hands and intelligence, observation and courage. Therefore, the foundation that bears the name of the painter seeks to spread his work while rescue and enhance national tradition that is reflected in the life of the Argentine countryside. For this it is that we intended on Wednesdays for the Museum to be visited by school children, so that they can appreciate this wonderful work. We hope that this serves to generate anxiety in our children and our love for things. Are requested to make appointments at email@example.com
Florencio Molina Campos is perhaps the greatest painter of the gaucho traditions of the Argentine countryside.His paintings reflect the customs of our countrywomen and countrymen; amusements of the people of those huge and sparsely populated plains; the luxuries of life shared with animals, especially the horse, reflected in the pilchas and tools; the playfulness of campers, always attentive to detail funny.Molina Campos shows the skills that you need to have to live in the midst of nature, using hands and intelligence, observation and courage.
Therefore, the foundation that bears the name of the painter seeks to spread his work while rescue and enhance national tradition that is reflected in the life of the Argentine countryside.
For this it is that we intended on Wednesdays for the Museum to be visited by school children, so that they can appreciate this wonderful work. We hope that this serves to generate anxiety in our children and our love for things.
Are requested to make appointments at firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to guarantee an appropriate and serious use of its resources, the Molina Campos Foundation, will agree beforehand with its benefactors as to the specific actions to be undertaken for a given project. This way, the success of each contribution can be measured and verified. Immediately after the events, the Foundation will render an itemized accounting of contributions and expenditures.
1. So as to finance its operations, the Foundation has established two levels of donors: those who make the highest contributions will be acknowledged in terms very much of the country of Molina Campos’ Gauchos -- Compadre y Comadre, (male or female). Donors who contribute at a lower level will be recognized as well -- Aparcero y Prenda (same distinction)
2. Those who wish to donate their time, or other services, will be recognized as Criollo Amigo or Criolla Amiga of the Foundation. Each group of these supporters will have a set of prerogatives and privileges which will be outlined in a separate document. Let's forge a better society on more solid moral values.
Let us integrate our children's country, internally as well as with the world, based on what is our heritage. Let us affirm our culture, and let us ground our common and personal development on it. Let us support important work performed by Florencio Molina Campos Foundation.