Ortiz, Virgil – Classic Four Arm Monos Figure (1990s)

7.5"w x 10"w x 7.5" deep

$ 3,800.00

This is an early clay monos figure by Virgil Ortiz.  He is known for his innovative style of Cochiti pottery, inspired by the Monos figures made at the pueblo in the 1880s. As I wrote in the book, “Virgil Ortiz: Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180,

“This use of the figures for social commentary is where they derived their name, monos. The word is a colloquial blend of Spanish and Keres, with inexact definitions that range from “mimic,” “mocking,” or “cute” to “monkey.” While “monkey” might have suggested the elongated bodies and arms or the simplified open-mouthed faces of the figures, it was also a subtle racial pejorative aimed at their Cochiti makers.”

This is one of Virgil’s traditional clay figures made from native clay and painted with native clays and wild spinach (black).  The figure is from the early 1990s when Virgil was not yet making standing figures and experimenting with the additional arms.  While his pieces today are amazingly complex in form, there were periods of experimentation in his pottery.  One can imagine how adding more arms to his pieces and then having them survive a traditional firing, was exciting.  This figure has four arms and extended feet. The arms are painted with designs.  The body of the figure has a flower design.  Note the complexity of the face and the beard.  There is a sculptural appearance to the beard and mustache.  Much about the figure has the feel of one of the historic Monos figures.  There is always something fun and almost mischievous on the faces of Virgil’s figures.  It is signed on the bottom, “Virgil Ortiz”.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.  Definitely a great piece of this history of Virgil’s figurative pottery!