It is hard to discuss the island of Bali and its people without considering the graphic art and ethnographic research of the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubius.
Miguel’s artwork and celebrity caricatures had been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines during the 1920’s and the linear nature of his drawing style was highly characteristic and highly influential. Additionally his advertising, painting and illustration work brought him international recognition including gallery shows in Europe, Mexico and the United States.
Miguel married Rosa Rolando in 1930 and they took an extended honeymoon to Bali where they immersed themselves in the local culture, language and customs. Miguel began creating his iconic images of Bali and its people, and his research into their ethnography.
Balinese dance particularly caught the attention of Miguel as for every occasion there are different dances, all with vibrant gamelan music and extravagant costumes.
Miguel returned to Bali in 1933 with Rosa whose photography would become part of Miguel’s book, Island of Bali which has never been out of print. The book and particularly the marketing for months surrounding its release, contributed to the 1930s Bali craze in New York.
The Museum Pacifica at Nusa Dua in Bali held an exhibition a few years ago when they presented a number of Covarrubius’s works on Bali collected from around the world in a major exhibition. The success of his work continues as his Offering of Fruits for the Temple sold at Christies Art Auction in 2011 for over 1 million dollars.