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Julio Dediego

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Julio Dediego

(1900 - 1979)

Julio De Diego was born in Madrid Spain in 1900. He left home at the age of 15 after his father destroyed “every drawing in the house.” Shortly thereafter, his art was exhibited for the first time in a show case at a casino, at which he sold his first painting. During this period, he also worked in a Madrid studio that produced scenery for opera productions. He served as the Art Director for Spain’s first four-reel film, in which he also played the villain, and still while in his teens he enlisted in the Spanish Calvary. He was wounded during the Riff Campaign, returned home, cut off all contact with his family and traveled to Paris. There, he was exposed to Cubism, Abstraction and Surrealism. In 1924 De Diego immigrated to the United States. It is rumored that shortly after his arrival in the states, he went to the observation deck of the Woolworth Building, the tallest building in New York at the time, and threw off all of his money exclaiming that he wanted to start from scratch. One of his first jobs in the United States was designing scenery in Tampa for a traveling Broadway production of “Wild Cat.” He found most of his work as a commercial artist, specifically drawing fashion illustrations. In 1926 he shifted his focus more towards painting and began to collect awards for the medium. In that same year, he began participating in various exhibitions including the Annual American Exhibition, The Chicago Artists Exhibition and International Water Color Exhibitions. He was commissioned to design the chapel doors of Saint Gregory’s church in 1926. De Diego was briefly married to Rosalind Gallery in Chicago. After their divorce in 1932, their daughter moved into De Diego’s close friend’s house. In 1935 he had a solo exhibit in the Art Institute of Chicago. He then moved to Mexico, where he began collecting native artifacts and took inspiration from many local muralists. Besides collecting artwork, he also did some set and costume designs for the ballet. In 1946 he held a Modern Handmade Jewelry exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. He then married Gypsy Rose Lee, and together they traveled with the Royal American Shows as Gypsy Lee worked as a performer and he created murals. After their divorce, he settled again in California and worked during the time of WWII in supporting American Artist’s Congress which was fighting for censorship in Germany and Italy. After the war he taught at the University of Denver, and then passed away in Sarasota Florida where he spent the last years of his life.

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