Shining the historical spotlight on overlooked yet revered Michigan-based muralist and painter Carlos Lopez
Despite a meteoric rise in the U.S. art world in the 1930s and a reputation as one of the most famous and prolific Latino artists of the 1940s, Michigan painter Carlos Lopez has slipped into relative obscurity in public memory. To kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month, Stateside spoke to Diana Paiz of the Michigan History Center about Lopez’s life, legacy, and contributions to public art.
Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1908 and spent much of his early childhood in Spain before moving to the United States with his family at age 11, just after the end of World War I. He honed his talent early through training in Chicago and Detroit. He eventually developed a reputation as a respected art teacher, as well as a technically masterful and versatile painter. Like his more famous contemporary, Diego Rivera, Lopez was particularly acclaimed for his expressionist murals.
Today, his works are available to view in museums including the Detroit Institute of Art and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and in public buildings across the midwest, including active and former post offices in Birmingham, Plymouth, and Paw Paw, Michigan. You can also see examples of his art and learn more about his legacy in the slideshow and interview above.