Dr. Atl (1875–1964) By Black, June I.K.
Dr. Atl was a Mexican artist, author, political activist, and amateur vulcanologist. Born Gerardo Murillo in 1875 and raised in Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, Dr. Atl was trained in drawing and the use of color by the Brazilian-born artist Félix Bernardelli, from whom he also learned of the European artistic vanguard. When Murillo received a scholarship from the Mexican Ministry of Public Education and Fine Arts in 1897, he traveled first to France, where he encountered the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. He then traveled to Italy, where he learned of the Divisionists, a group whose technical innovations in painting motivated his own later reimagining of the medium’s possibilities. From 1911–1914, the artist lived and worked in Paris. Throughout the early 1900s, Dr. Atl stayed connected to the arts scene in Europe, although he rejected what he referred to as the barbarity of Futurism and Cubism. Upon returning to his home country in 1914, Dr. Atl revolutionized the Mexican approach to depicting landscapes. Building on Mexico’s already strong tradition of landscape painting—most notably the work of Luis Coto (1830–1891), Daniel Thomas Egerton (1797–1842), Eugenio Landesio (1810–1879), and José María Velasco (1840–1912)—he introduced Mexican society to the techniques he had learned in Europe and brought a new expressiveness to the genre.