|ARTISTS EXHIBITIONS EVENTS CONTACT|
|Francisco (“Paco”) Amighetti|
Francisco Amighetti Ruiz’s woodcuts eventually brought him international attention and praise, with exhibits in Paris, Tokyo, and other major cities. Thanks to his legacy, Costa Rica still leads the Central American nations in printmaking.
Amighetti was born in San José in 1907. In 1926, he entered Costa Rica’s Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA). At the ENBA, he studied with Tomás Povedano, the director of the school. Povedano, a Spaniard who had emigrated to Costa Rica, urged his students to look to their own history and culture for their subjects.
Amighetti was at the ENBA for only one year. An avid reader, he learned much more from magazines and books and from his artist friends. His interest in Japanese art, in particular, was sparked by a book he came upon at the Biblioteca Nacional. (Japanese art would influence his work for the rest of his life.)
In 1927, the widely circulated magazine Repertorio Americano published some of Amighetti’s woodblock prints. That was the start of his career as a graphic artist. In 1932, at the age of twenty-five, Amighetti went to Argentina. He had his first individual show with the Amigos del Arte in Buenos Aires. During that time, he met the Argentine painters Raúl Soldi and Antonio Berni. He also met the Argentine writers Leopoldo Lugones, Eduardo Mallea, and Luis Franco.
From Argentina, he traveled to Bolivia and Peru. When he returned to Costa Rica in 1933, he continued to produce the kind of hand-pulled prints that he had shown in Argentina. According to art historian Carlos Echeverría, “woodcuts offered Amighetti his best chance to channel his talent and expressionistic interest.”
In the 1940s, Amighetti traveled to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States to work and exhibit. In each country that he visited, he recorded the local culture in oil and watercolors. In 1943, he won a scholarship to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Amighetti became a professor at the Universidad de Costa Rica in 1944. For the next twenty years, he taught art history, printmaking, and painting.
In 1947, he went to Mexico to study fresco mural technique with Diego Rivera’s disciple Federico Cantú. The next year, he completed his first mural, La agricultura, for Costa Rica’s Casa Presidencial. (It was later transferred to the Museo de Arte Costarricense.) He also painted murals at the Banco Nacional branch in Alajuela, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social in Tibás, and the Lincoln School in San Jose.
In 1950, he went to Argentina, where he studied engraving and etching. By 1967, he had devoted himself exclusively to his woodcuts. The prints were primarily inspired by Japanese art and German and Belgian Expressionism. They are intense, depicting emotional moments in the lives of ordinary people. This is the work for which he is best known and most admired.
Amighetti left his teaching post at the Universidad de Costa Rica in 1968, when he was sixty-one, and produced prolifically for the next thirty years. He created thousands of prints, watercolors, and oils in his seventy-year career. They are some of the most valuable and desirable examples of Costa Rican art in the world. He also wrote poetry and illustrated books. Though Francisco Amighetti traveled widely, he chose to live in Costa Rica. He died in 1998 in San José at the age of ninety-one.
Awards and Honors for Francisco Amighetti
1937 – won the Primer Premio at the IX Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas held in the Teatro Nacional, San José, Costa Rica, for his oil painting Maternidad
1970 – awarded the Premio Nacional de Cultura “Magón”
1973 – won the Primer Premio del Grabado at the II Salón Anual de Artes Plásticas
2010 – declared Benemérito de la Patria by the Costa Rican Asamblea Legislativa, the first time the honor was awarded to an artist