Felipe Linares

PAper Maché By felipe linares

Master craftsman of the famous “alebrijes”!

Many travelers to Mexico are familiar with the friendly monsters and fanciful animals known as alebrijes. There is a wide misconception that they were invented by the wood carvers of Oaxaca, who today carve them in profusion. But in reality, paper maché artist Pedro Linares invented them.

Felipe Linares

In the 1930s, Pedro Linares (1906-1992) was already making paper maché piñatas and “Judas figures” to be exploded during Holy Week. One night, while recovering from an illness, he dreamed of surreal magical animals playing in a forest and all shouting the word, alebrijes. When he recovered, he began creating these creatures, called them alebrijes, and the tradition was born. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera appreciated Linares’s work, began commissioning him to build more alebrijes, and the work began to appear in important collections internationally including the collection of actor and collector Dennis Hopper. Early works can still be seen in Diego Rivera’s home and studio in San Angel and in the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City, the repository of Rivera’s extensive pre-Hispanic collection. In 1990, two years before he died, Pedro Linares received Mexico’s National Arts and Sciences Award in the Popular Arts Category.

Several Linares family members still work in paper maché, all sons and grandsons of Pedro Linares, primarily in Mexico City, where Pedro Linares lived all his life.  Alebrije figures did eventually spread to several woodcarving villages in Oaxaca, where more than 200 families are carrying forward the tradition.

Visit Galería Atotonilco to find more pieces of Felipe Linares!