Biography

Florencio de los Ángeles Molina Campos was born in Buenos Aires on August 21st, 1891. He was son of Florencio Molina Salas and doña Josefina del Corazón de Jesus Campos y Campos. They were members of a traditional family which origin dates back to times of colonialism in Argentina. Some of his most important and heroic ancestors were Luis María, Gaspar and Manuel Campos, among others.

Florencio Molina Campos spent his life in Buenos Aires and in his parents’ lands in Tuyu and General Madariaga, Buenos Aires province, and in Chajarí, in Entre Ríos province.

On July 31st, 1920, he married María Hortensia Palacios Avellaneda. The wedding was held at Iglesia del Salvador (Saviour’s Church). She was daughter of Rodolfo Palacios and doña María Avellaneda, members of noble traditional families in Argentina. The married couple began its marital life in its flat located at 339, Paraguay Street.

On June 11th, 1921, his only daughter Hortensia — nicknamed “Pelusa” — was born. Later, the marriage broke up, and Pelusa was raised by her mother María Hortensia. After a long engagement, Pelusa married Antonio “Buby” Giménez, who was only son of a traditional family that made glorious expeditions to the desert. Eleven years later, the only son of the couple, Gonzalo Giménez Molina, was born.

 

In 1926, Florencio Molina Campos – with help from their friends and taking advantage of the facts that his parents were constitutors and he had been employee before and was member in those times – displayed his first exhibition in the shed of Sociedad Rural Argentina. President Marcelo T. De Alvear, who became a fervent admirer of his work, attended his exhibition and awarded him an official chair at Nicolás Avellaneda School.

During an exhibition in Mar del Plata in 1927, Florencio met a young lady from Mendoza called María Elvira Ponce Aguirre, who he did not meet again for a long period. Some years later they became concubines and lived together until Florencio’s death in 1959. In Argentina, divorce was not legal and therefore marriage of separated people was not allowed. The couple married successively in Uruguay in 1932, in United States in 1937 and finally in civil ceremony in Buenos Aires on March 9th, 1956 when they were allowed to marry by Ley Perón (Perón Law).

In 1931, the painter travelled to Europe for the first time and displayed his work in Paris. Afterwards, he was guest — many times and by different governments — as cultural representative of Argentina. He was teacher of new generations at Colegio Nicolas Avellaneda as well as Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts).

 

In those times, he signed a contract to illustrate the calendars of Alpargatas company, which were edited from 1931 to 1936, from 1940 to 1945, 1961 and 1962. They were his most popular work, and Ruy de Solana said: “Calendars were a simple synonym of what is cheap and despicable. But since this artist started to spread out his work by these humble and annual means, calendars turned into the art gallery of poor.

In 1942, Molina Campos strengthened his friendship with Walt Disney and was hired to give advice to a team of cartoonist in three films that were going to be produced by Disney. The films were set in Argentina and were based on the artist’s work and on the landscapes they had seen on their trip to our country.

Molina Campos joined the staff when the first of three planned films was quite advanced. The Argentinean painter did not agree to the extravagant attitude the company wanted to give to the characters. He attempted to give a more accurate representation of the Argentinean gaucho, but as he could not achieved it, he quit. After Molina Campos’ departure, Disney decided to merge the three planned films. The resultant film is known as “Saludos amigos”.

As mute witnesses of his stay in Disney studio, some photographs at Museo Florencio Molina Campos (Florencio Molina Campos Museum) show Walt Disney and his cartoonists in rancho Los Estribos during a trip made to hire the painter.

In 1944, the painter signed a 10-year contract with the firm Mineapolis-Moline. From 1944 to 1958, he drew a series of calendars similar to the Alpargatas’ ones, but they included – due to his suggestion – farming machines belonging to that company. They also made posters, stamps and playing cards. Some pictures were reproduced in newspapers and magazines. In 1951, 12 sheets of that year’s originals were edited.

On November 16th, 1959, a terminal disease overcame him. He died in Buenos Aires after an unsuccessful surgery. His rests lay in the family’s vault in Recoleta until 1970. Due to Elvirita’s request, his rests were taken to Moreno Cementery, where they currently lie.

 

Florencio was the typical friendly, likeable and bold Argentinean. He was a good dancer and had a great charisma that assuaged the meetings he attended. He had such a strong personality that in some occasions he seemed an ill-tempered man. He loved classical music, which he listened at nights while he was painting.

He did not have a business vision of his work. He painted because he loved painting. During war times, canson paper ceased to be imported, so he decided to paint on ravioli boxes that had similar characteristics. He never projected his work for the future. He used to sell his pictures at a low price and as a consequence, he lived austerely. He painted lots of pictures and tried different techniques.

These and other details about Molina Campos’ life are product of the laboured, respectful and methodical biography written by Professor Juan Carlos Ocampo. It was originally edited in 1980. Furthermore, it was recently updated and re-edited because of the request of admirers from Argentina and foreigner countries.