European Art

Jose Ortega

Spain (1921-1991)


José Ortega is born in 1921 in Arroba de los Montes (Spain). His family moves to Madrid in 1934 and in his early years the young boy is being interest in art. At age 15, then the Spanish civil war breaks out, Ortega is already a protest artist. He joins the Communist Party, is being sentenced to 10 years in prison (1947); acquitted in 1952, José Ortega enrolls at the National School of Graphic Arts and at the free Club of Fine Arts in Madrid. In 1953, he receives a French government scholarship to study at the School Estienne, and the School of Fine Arts in Paris.

He returns to Spain between 1954 and 1960, living in hiding. The artist travels to China, gets some prizes (Warsaw, 1955). In 1958 he founds the group “Popular Prints”. Ortega goes into exile in Paris between 1960 and 1970 where he is considered as one of the major Spanish artists of the new generation. His art (painting, printmaking, drawing) receives numerous awards and the artist exhibits a lot in France and abroad (Paris, St. Louis, Toronto, Philadelphia, Turin, Rome, Zurich, Essen, Luxembourg, Brussels). In 1972, the artist presents the cycle of 60 etchings “Ortega + Dürer” at the Museum of Nuremberg. In all facets of his work, he now works on many series (including, among others, “Birth and Death of Innocents” and “Decalogue for Democracy”). His work evolves from the 80s to a less schematic representation, tinged with metaphysics and steeped in mystery. José Ortega dies in Paris in December 1990.