Ortiz, Virgil – 22″ Tall Monos Figure with Removable Arms (2001)

12.75"w x 22"h

$ 17,000.00

This is an amazing large monos figure by Virgil Ortiz.  The figure is inspired by the “monos” figures created at Cochiti Pueblo in the 1880s.  As I wrote in the book, “Virgil Ortiz: Revolution”:

The Monos figurative art from Cochiti Pueblo has a fascinating story of resilience, resistance, and revival. The historic Monos figures were made in Cochiti from around 1880 to about 1920. Their function was to provide social commentary in a world that was inundated by the new arrival of the railroads and an influx of “foreigners” to the region. “Cochiti potters engaged in social criticism, conducting a discourse, often through parody, on the changing occupants of the Pueblo World. Figures expressed the ways that potters viewed those who differed from themselves, and many are humorous or satirical.

Although the potters were predominantly women, the figures were mostly men and most often Spanish, New Mexican, or Anglo-American in descent and almost certainly depicted local wealthy merchants, cowboys, and priests. As a coping mechanism for the Cochiti potters, the figures were a subtle and subversive form of empowerment. The regional traveling circus or “freak shows” that came into the New Mexico Territory were also a source of inspiration. “Cochiti potters observed all kinds of people with whom they came into contact, and they recorded their impressions of them in clay in a way that communicated amusement, criticism, or simply an active interest in the rapidly changing local scene. Because the figurines were not used by Pueblo insiders but were made for sale to some of the same outsiders they portrayed, potters had to develop a keen understanding of what their targeted audience, the Western other, would understand, appreciate and buy. This use of the figures for social commentary is where they derived their name, Monos, which means “mocking,” “cute,” or “monkey,” possibly as a pejorative relating to their makers

This figure is coil-built and slipped with white clay then painted with wild spinach (black) and clay slips.  This piece was made in 2001.  It is part of a series where Virgil made the arms hang separately on the figure.  He said that he was inspired by looking at puppets and how to create a sense of “articulation” in the figures.  The figure itself is fully painted with traditional wild spinach, sun, and water designs.  The face is turned upwards and has a painted beard and mustache.  The arms are each two pieces.  The hands are attached to the arms.  The arms rest on the extrusions from the figure itself.   The hands are painted black with wild spinach plant and the arms are painted with sun and geometric designs. The arms and figure were traditionally fired and the black is a deep coloration. The figure is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.  It is not just unique but a dynamic expression of his artistry and culture.  It is signed on the bottom with his name and cipher.  The figure includes a copy of “Virgil Ortiz: Revolution”.