Santos Balmori - Life

Life

Balmori Picazo was born in Mexico City on September 26, 1899 to Ramón Balmori Galguerra from Asturias, Spain and Everarda Picazo from Mexico.

He spent his first four years of life in a community called Soberrón near Llanes, Asturias with his mother, Everanda Picazo de Cuevas, dying in Spain. The family then moved to Mendoza, Argentina. They then moved by mule across the Andes to live in Santiago de Chile. When he was sixteen, Balmori’s father, Ramón Balmori Galguera, committed suicide.

He entered the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Santiago but his guardians did not want him to study art. In 1919, he went to Europe to study, starting at the Academy of San Fernando in Spain. His teachers in San Fernando included José Moreno Carbonero, Joaquín Sorolla and Julio Romero de Torres and studied with Salvador Dalí and Remedios Varo. He was offered a chance to immigrate to Rome as a distinguished Spanish student but since the offer required that he renounce his Mexican citizenship, he declined. The Academy of San Fernando believed that the ideal was to reproduce reality without distortions but Balmori rebelled against this idea. For this reason, he gave up studies here for Paris at age twenty two. He lived for the next fourteen years in Paris, at first studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under sculptor Antoine Bourdelle and learning about new movements in art. He struggled economically, but also met a number of famous artists, studying the work of Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Georges Braque and Matisse along with those of Italian Futurists and German Expressionists. He also had his first professional success as an artist.

He studied trancendental meditation and because of health problems, spent time in Oran, North Africa.

He favored the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, which lead to his detention in Spain. After he returned to Mexico, he continued this support, opening a school for children of Spanish exiles.

Balmori Picazo was married three times, all to dancers. His first wife was French dancer Therese Bernard, who died shortly after from Addison's disease. His second wife was Rachel Björnstrom, which whom he had a daughter, Kore Monica, who fell ill with polio. Rachel took the child to Sweden and never returned. His last marriage was to Helena Jordán Juárez and lasted over forty years until his death.

He died at age 93 in Mexico City on March 5, 1992 from heart and respiratory failure.

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