Today’s Doodle celebrates the 115th birthday of a Mexican artist who turned his dreams into reality, Pedro Linares López. His peculiar yet playful animal sculptures known as alebrijes are beloved worldwide as unique products of Mexico’s folk art tradition.
Pedro Linares López was born in Mexico City, Mexico on this day in 1906. His father worked as a papier-mâché sculptor, or cartonero, and he trained Linares to follow in his footsteps. By the time Linares was 12 years old, he had become a skilled craftsman of papier-mâché items like piñatas and the traditional skeletal figures called calaveras which are featured in the annual Day of the Dead celebration.
In 1945, as Linares tells the story, he became very sick and drifted into a fever dream. There he encountered fantastical creatures who shouted in unison a nonsensical phrase “Alebrijes!” Upon his recovery, he set out to represent these mythical beings in sculpture. The jarring sculptures initially met little success, until over time, Linares refined his alebrijes into the colorfully patterned combinations of reptiles, insects, birds, and mammals recognized today in today’s Doodle artwork. As his reputation grew, he attracted the admiration of the iconic Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but it was a 1975 documentary about Linares by the filmmaker Judith Bronowski that elevated him to international fame.
In 1990, Linares was honored with the first Mexican National Prize in Arts and Sciences in the category of Popular Art and Traditions.
Thank you, Pedro Linares López, for showing us the power of imagination!
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Doodler Emily Barrera.