Artist to Know: Jorge Marín

Liz Catalano
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Contemporary Mexican Sculpture Featured in Upcoming Morton Subastas Sale

One of the most prominent voices in contemporary Mexican sculpture is Jorge Marín, an artist who has worked to blur the divide between public and private art. Alas de México, his best-known installation located in Mexico City, gathered international attention after it became a symbol of liberty, freedom, and resistance. Marín has since spent a career exploring those themes. 

Morton Subastas’ upcoming New Year’s Eve Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Work Auction, held on December 3rd, 2020, at 1:00 PM EST, will feature one of Marín’s signature sculptures. Learn more about the artist before the bidding begins.

Jorge Marín with a sculpture. Image from the artist.
Jorge Marín with a sculpture. Image from the artist.

Born the youngest of ten children, a young Marín moved from a small Michoacán town to Mexico City. He was given significant freedom to pursue an artistic career, later earning degrees in graphic design and fine art restoration. Once Marín discovered bronze, however, he cemented an interest in sculpture that would last for over 30 years. 

The principal figures in Marín’s work are human bodies balanced in acrobatic positions. Many have spread wings and macabre beak masks reminiscent of plague doctors. This balance between light and dark elements can be partially attributed to Dutch fantastical painter Hieronymus Bosch, who Marín cites among his influences. Despite the moody undertones to his sculptures, the artist views them not as angels or demons but as extensions of humanity. 

Marín spoke about his winged figures in a 2017 interview with Vice: “We don’t like a government, we are going to change it, we don’t like corruption, let’s not accept it anymore… the wings serve to remind us of the great ability we have to fly; no fantasy is so great that we cannot see it done.”

The upcoming Morton Subastas sale will feature Ángel grabado (Engraved Angel), a bronze sculpture that includes each key piece of Marín’s style. It depicts a figure curled around a polished black sphere. His wings are spread in a dramatic ‘V’ shape behind him. While the sculpture appears mysterious with its striking form and symmetry, the figure is tinged with sadness: he appears to be weeping behind his bird mask. This sculpture has a presale estimate of MXN 160,000 to $200,000 (USD 7,470 – $9,337).

Jorge Marín, Ángel grabado, 2018. Image from Morton Subastas.
Jorge Marín, Ángel grabado, 2018. Image from Morton Subastas.

Because he has made a concerted effort to keep his artwork public, few of Marín’s sculptures make it to the auction block. There is increasing interest in his work, however, particularly after the Alas de México sculpture went viral in 2010. His art flew under the auction radar before then— one acrobat sculpture sold for USD 3,250 in a 2009 Christie’s sale. Many Marín pieces now regularly achieve $10,000 or more at auction. Split en una mano, for example, sold with Morton Subastas in May of 2020 for USD 16,246. The price was more than three times the high estimate.

Marín’s most famous works are his democratized sculptures promoting freedom. They have appeared around the world, including in Shanghai, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and the Los Angeles area. “Today most people need a first approach to art, we must take it to the streets, make it more playful and accessible,” he told MVT in 2015. Many of his public sculptures are intentionally interactive as a result, remaining incomplete until the viewer steps up to engage with them.

Jorge Marín, Alas de México, 2010. Image from the artist.
Jorge Marín, Alas de México, 2010. Image from the artist.

Marín recently took on an education and advocacy role while serving as the UNICEF Mexico Ambassador. Recognized for his efforts to support the emotional health of children and adolescents, he continues to make art while supporting and empowering marginalized communities. 

Morton Subastas’ New Year’s Eve Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Work Auction will be held on December 3rd, 2020, at 7:00 PM EST. Marín’s work will appear alongside over 350 lots of contemporary Mexican sculpture and fine art. View the full catalog on Bidsquare and learn more about Morton Subastas on their Auction Daily news channel. 

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