Birthday: November 1, 1923
Died At Age: 90
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Born in: Montevideo
Famous as: Artist
Spouse/Ex-: Annette Deussen (m. 1989), Madelón Rodríguez Gómez (1955–61)
children: Agó Páez Vilaró, Alejandro Páez, Carlos Páez Rodríguez, Mercedes Páez Vilaró, Sebastián Páez Vilaró
Died on: February 24, 2014
place of death: Punta Ballena
City: Montevideo, Uruguay
Carlos Paez Vilaro was a multifaceted artist. He was a painter, potter, sculptor, muralist, writer, composer and constructor. Native to Uruguay, his artistic pursuits took him to Argentina, Brazil, Africa and Europe on cultural journeys that permeated his creations. He explored various mediums to create his remarkable work, as an abstract painter, sculptor, muralist and architect. A white man himself, he was fascinated by the black Uruguayan heritage. He achieved fame early in his career; his artistic vision was boundless and also found expression in music and film-making. As a successful muralist and sculptor, he was commissioned by governments, private companies, and individuals to create original murals and artistic expressions. His particular interest in Afro-Uruguayan culture inspired many of his murals, his compositions in music, and his celebration of Afro-Uruguayan ’Candombe’ music and dance. He lived and worked a life of art which is imprinted upon the architecture he designed, often reminiscent of the style of Anton Gaudi and Dali. Passionate, dedicated, and tireless, Vilaro continued to create almost until the day he died at a ripe old age
Childhood & Early Life
Born on November 1, 1923 in Montevideo, Uruguay, Carlos Paez Vilaro lived a very modest life as a child born in a financially struggling family. He began his artistic passion with drawing, at a very young age.
He moved to Argentina in 1939 and became a printing apprentice. Greatly struck by the contrast between the ordinariness of factory life and the vigor and vitality of the Tango districts of Buenos Aires, he created his early paintings exhibiting those perceptions.
Approximately 10 years later, in the 1940s, he returned to Uruguay and began to delve in the bright, bold colors of Afro-Uruguayan arts and culture.
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During the years from 1939 to the late 1940s in Buenos Aires he explored art through drawings and spent the years absorbing cultural experiences. He then returned to Uruguay to throw himself into Candombe dance and music, living in Mediomundo, enthralled by the black heritage of Uruguay.
In 1958, Carlos Paez Vilaro joined an artists' movement known as ‘Grupo de los 8’, which aimed at introducing new techniques in painting. It was then that he bought the property in Punta Ballena, by the sea, that was to become the famous ‘Casapueblo’ years later, designed and constructed by him in his unique vision.
He traveled extensively to Brazil, Africa, and Europe, always returning to his beloved Uruguay and his passion for Afro-Uruguayan themes in art and music. Markets, funerals, festivals, sandpipers, snippets of ordinary life and extraordinary happenings found their way on to his canvas, and his richly colored, vivid murals graced places as far away as Washington D.C.
Undoubtedly, one of Vilaro's masterpiece achievements is ‘Casapueblo’, built gradually over time, expanding in size, form and grandeur. A flash of dazzling white built by the deep azure sea, this unusual and mysterious building was his home and workshop, and later a hotel. This was his "living sculpture" inspired in design by the regional ‘hornero’ birds' nests. It now draws tourists who are mesmerized by its enchanting form and organic art.
San Isidro Chapel in Buenos Aires, designed by him, integrates the elements of nature into the structure. Using all his experience and observations, he designed a pure white chapel reflecting the serene surroundings and vitality of nature.
In 1959, he crafted the famous mural ‘Roots of Peace’, measuring 155 meters in length and 2 meters in height in the tunnel of the Pan Union American Building which housed the ‘Organization of American States’ in Washington DC.
Awards & Achievements
In color and in white, the murals, architecture, paintings, ceramics, drums created by Carlos Paez Vilaro are spread across continents — from Uruguay and Latin America to North America, Africa and the Polynesian Islands.
As a filmmaker and screenwriter, he distinguished himself with his documentary ‘Batouk’, based on African dance, and shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1967. His zeal and compositions for African ‘Candombe’ were instrumental in bringing respect and admiration to a dance form considered socially unacceptable.
Personal Life & Legacy
In life, art, and love Carlos Paez Vilaro was passionate. His first marriage in 1955 to Madelon Rodriguez Gomez, who bore him three children, lasted 6 years. Of these, his son "Carlitos" Paez Rodriguez, became a college rugby team player and was nearly killed in a plane crash carrying the team. Missing for 72 days, he was finally found alive and rescued.
He met a married woman, Annette Deussen in 1976 and became her paramour, which led to complications. She gave birth to his child in 1984, finally obtaining a divorce from her husband in 1986.
He died on 24 February 2014, at the 90, at his beloved and whimsical home, Casapueblo, in Punta Ballena, Uruguay.
Deeply inspired by nature, Vilaro's ingenuity led to many device creations to imbue architecture with dramatic qualities, such as the one he created to celebrate each sunset in his ‘Casapueblo’. A choreographed recording of his voice reciting an Ode to the Sun, to the accompaniment of a Spanish guitar plays each evening, timed precisely to follow the setting sun.
The movie ‘Alive’, released in 1993, features the rescue of his son, among the 16 survivors of the plane crash in the Andes, referred to as ‘The Miracle of the Andes’