Szyszlo, Fernando de

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    Fernando De Szyszlo Valdelomar (born 5 July 1925) is a Peruvian painter, sculptor, printmaker, and teacher who is a key figure in advancing abstract art in Latin America since the mid-1950s, and one of the leading plastic artists in Peru.

    Szyszlo was born in Lima, Peru; his mother was Peruvian of Spanish-Indian descent, and his father a geographer from Poland. In 1943, Szyszlo entered the architecture school of the National University of Engineering, but abandoned plans to follow that profession and enrolled in the School of Plastic Arts of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. After his graduation in 1948, he traveled to Europe where he studied the works of the masters, particularly Rembrandt, Titian and Tintoretto, and absorbed the varied influences of Cubism, Surrealism, Informalism, and abstraction. Szyszlo lived in Paris and Florence from 1948 to 1955, and then returned to Peru. While in Paris he met Octavio Paz and André Breton and was part of the group of expatriate Latin American artists and writers who met regularly at the Café de Flore, engaging in vigorous discussions on how they could participate in the international modern movement while preserving their Latin American cultural identity. Upon his return to Peru, Szyszlo became a major force for artistic renewal in his country breaking new ground by expressing a Peruvian subject matter in a non-representational style. In 1962, he became a professor of art at Cornell University. In 1965 he became a visiting lecturer at Yale University. Szyszlo was married to the Peruvian poet Blanca Varela (1926–2009), with whom he had two children. He currently lives and works in Lima.