Maurice Schmidt

Maurice  Schmidt -

Riboso, Mother and Child-Mexico, 1957

Print lithograph  
10.5 x 9.25 in

"Mother and child are swathed together in a cocoon formed by the woman's riboso. This style of street garment that covers both the head and body of women can be seen in the art of all ages across almost all cultures. The riboso and woman are ubiquitous as woman and child. The riboso can be wrapped in many ways around the body, allowed to flow casually over the shoulders and straight downward or drawn snugly across the chest from one side to the other. Its folds stretch in a dramatic diagonally woven design almost as intimidating as the body armor, the cuirass of ancient warriors. I saw this woman many times during my studies in Mexico. This lithograph is a composite of my memories of them. We see them in the old religious paintings of the Virgin Mary, the crying mother in Giotto's great Pieta. For some reason, Leonardo chose to paint Mona Lisa, supposedly a woman of education and means, in this humble and unadorned robe. The painting was with him until his death. Could this portrait carry Leonardo's memory of his peasant mother from whom he was snatched away by his landowner father who was of minor aristocracy?As with many of the really poor, they have little more than the slow dignity of their movement and the majesty of their bearing. Bone structure protrudes through face and limbs; eyes, especially of the children, are large and penetrating, expressive beyond their years. Everything about them is dramatic, like great sculpture. It is not that I mean to say that poverty has beauty. Perhaps when everything is reduced to the mere essence of survival, and everything frivolous even those small extras that can give life some comfort is taken away; what remains is the essential dignity of the image of God in the human being. The irreducible revealed in its perfection all by itself with nothing to interfere. It calls to mind Michelangelo's judgment: "The statue is finished when all the extraneous stone is removed" - excerpt from the book "Maurice Schmidt, A Life in Art"

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