Florencio Molina Campos: an international perspective of the gaucho
Florencio Molina Campos, born in Buenos Aires on August 21, 1891, is an illustrator and Argentine painter known for his depictions of traditional scenes of daily life in the Pampas.
Molina Campos: more than a talent, a destiny
His full name is Florencio de los Ángeles Molina Campos. Coming from a family with different properties in the countryside, he spent his childhood between the capital and the rural world, immersing himself very young in the way of life of the gauchos. Gifted with a keen sense of observation and a great photographic memory, his drawings are not long in being noticed.
His first exhibition took place in Buenos Aires in 1926, in the big hall of the Sociedad Rural Argentina. In spite of its young age, this exhibition impressed, and more particularly the Argentine President, Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, who will give him the official job of Art professor into the Colegio Nacional Nicolás Avellaneda.
From then on, Molina Campos decides to dedicate his life to painting. He always creates more paintings and his taste for the scenes of the daily life of the inhabitants of the Pampas grows up.
It was during the same year, 1926, that the Argentine writer Ricardo Güiraldes published his famous novel Don Segundo Sombra. There is a stong relationship between the pictorial work of Molina Campos and the literary work of Ricardo Güiraldes, but at the same time with enormous contrasts: Molina Campos paints his characters with a melancholy humor in a naive and expressionist style, while Güiraldes describes gauchos with extreme melancholy.
Four years after his first big success, he is contacted by the famous Argentine factory of espadrilles: the Alpargatas company. Twelve illustrations, drawn by the hand of the artist, are published in the annual calendar of the company. Once again, this work is a huge success: his contract will be extended for a total of 14 calendars!
Conquering a wide range of countries
Very quickly the notoriety of Molina Campos exceeds the borders of Argentina, and from 1931 it never stops to furrow the world, invited by different governments as cultural representative of his country. That same year, he made his first exhibition in Paris.
In 1942, Molina Campo was hired by his friend Walt Disney as technical advisor to the design team of Disney studios, for the production of 3 new movies. They will be strongly influenced by the work and vision of the Argentine painter. You probably did not know it, but it was Molina Campos who directed the artistic direction of the world-famous cartoon: Bambi. Animals and trees strongly recall the paintings of the caricaturist.
Later, he also participated in the creation of short cartoons, still within the framework of the Walt Disney Company, such as El Gaucho Goofy which will be released in 1943. Eight years later, he collaborated on the original poster of the success movie Alice in Wonderland.
Finally, he decided to resign because he didn’t share some ideas that he thinks far-fetched of Disney Studios to represent his compatriots and especially Gauchos.
The following year, Molina Campos signed a contract with the American company Mineapolis-Moline, for which he is going to illustrate between 1944 and 1958 a series of calendars similar to those of Alpargatas, as well as various derivative products.
Florencio Molina Campos died in 1959 in his native country, leaving behind a significant artistic legacy.
With a unique visual imagination, Florencio Molina Campos is on the list of the most popular Argentine artists of 20th century. His picturesque works have highlighted the beauty of the Pampas and its people and earned him, among many recognitions, the gold medal of the 5th Argentine designers exhibition in 1950.
Several museums pay tribute to this painter and highlight his fruitful work. This is particularly the case of the Florencio Molina Campos Museum in Moreno (west of Buenos Aires) and the Las Lilas Museum in San Antonio de Areco, which presents a unique collection of original works by the artist.