Inspired by Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara Indians, Marina Núñez del Prado’s abstract sculptures became not only prized by fellow Bolivians but also renowned throughout Central and South America, North America, and Europe.
Born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1912, Núñez del Prado was raised in a family that encouraged cultural and artistic development. Her father, General Guillermo Núñez del Prado, was also an etcher and violinist, and gave Marina her first book on the life and works of Michelangelo. Of Marina’s four other siblings, only her sister Nilda, an internationally recognized jeweler, also went on to pursue an artistic career.
From 1927 to 1929, Núñez del Prado studied art at the Academia de Bellas Artes in La Paz. After graduating, she was invited to teach sculpture and artistic anatomy at the Academia de Bellas Artes, and drawing at La Paz’s American Institute. In 1936, Núñez del Prado traveled to Argentina, Uruguay, and Peru. During this time, she exhibited at the Annual Salon of Argentine Women and received first prize as a foreign artist. She then spent two years living and working in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1940, Núñez del Prado received a scholarship to work in the United States. During her eight-year stay, she created some of her most socially oriented works including Miners in Revolt
, a commentary on the plight of Bolivian miners, which received a gold medal in an exhibition of the National Association of Women Artists in New York.
In 1948, Núñez del Prado returned to Bolivia where she continued to be inspired by the indigenous people’s music and culture. From 1951 to 1954 she traveled throughout Central, South, and North America, and toured Europe with her work. During the 1952 Venice Biennial, Núñez del Prado was given a special hall in the Italian Pavilion to exhibit twenty-four of her sculptures. This was the first time Bolivia was represented at the Venice Biennial, and critics were interested in her unique Bolivian style and themes. In 1953, she traveled to Paris where she was encouraged by Pablo Picasso to continue to experiment with more challenging abstractions. She returned to Bolivia where she continued to work, now in more simplified forms, and began using materials indigenous to her homeland, including Comanche
granite, alabaster, basalt, and onyx, as well as Bolivian woods.
In 1958, Núñez del Prado embarked on another European tour after which she returned to South America and held a retrospective in Argentina. In 1972, she moved to Lima, Peru with her husband, Peruvian writer Jorge Falcón. There she continued to create her abstract sculptural forms, working with bronze for larger scale works in her later years. In 1995, Marina Núñez del Prado died in Lima. Inspired by the materials and people of her homeland, Núñez del Prado’s work continues to reflect her appreciation of her Bolivian heritage translated by the simplified language of abstraction.
daughter of Guillermo Núñez del Prado
sister of Nilda Núñez del Prado
friend of and influenced by Pablo Picasso
friend of and influenced by Constantin Brancusi
influenced by Henry Moore
influenced by Alexander Archipenko
Gold Medal, National Association of Women Artists, New York, NY, USA (1946)
International Fellow, American Association of University Women, Washington, DC, USA (1940)
Gold Medal, Berlin International Exposition, Berlin, Germany (1938)