Anthropomorphism and Sculpture in the Work of Gilbert “Magu” Luján 

University Art Galleries, University of California, Irvine

Selection of mixed media sculptures produced during the 1980s and 1990s by Gilbert “Magu” Luján. 

The drawing "Passing el Tiempo (con Conejito Rabbit y Thumper), depicts three anthropomorphic rabbits playing a card game, situated in a desert landscape.

The stick dog running across a desert landscape combines the symbolic valence of anthropomorphism in Luján's work with the utopic potentiality of the desert of Magulandia. Photo courtesy Tom Vinetz.

According to Connie Cortez, scholar and contributor to Gilbert "Magu" Luján's first and only monograph,"Luján considered animated canines to be a “metaphor for indigenous Mexican-Indian heritage”.

Anthropomorphic animals hold a special place in Luján's work, often depicted in approachable and affectionate ways.

Anthropomorphic animals are a recurring and major theme in Luján's work, they often took on the qualities of the subjects represented in his drawings and paintings.

Anthropomorphic dogs are represented prominently throughout Luján's body of work. This untitled cardboard and acrylic sculpture depicts a male and female dog posing.

Luján's anthropomorphic animals mostly represented humans in their youth, however, this sculpture is an exception.

Three cardboard and acrylic dog sculptures created by Luján between 1980 and 1990.

Throughout Luján's work, anthropomorphism is used as a way to depict camaraderie and acceptance despite individual differences.

Flames, hearts, and anthropomorphism are combined in this cardboard and acrylic sculpture by Luján.

This cardboard and acrylic sculpture by Luján depicts a "Sphinx dog", posing next to a cactus.

Hearts are recurring symbols in Luján's work, as are signifiers that suggest introspection. In this cardboard and acrylic sculpture by the artist, a man sits and ponders a heart.

Zen Buddhism was an important practice for Luján, he believed it made him a better Chicano. In this acrylic and cardboard sculpture, an anthropomorphic dog holds a Tai Chi pose.

Ceramic bust by Gilbert “Magu” Luján of an unknown model. It was important for Luján to represent indigenous profiles as beautiful and to show them in a positive light.

This cardboard and acrylic painting on paper by Luján combines a recurrent motif in his work - a cactus - with the modernist aesthetic of drip paintings.

Adult and youth stick dogs walking across the desert with paint brushes for walking sticks.

Two male figures, one of whom holds a dog on a leash. This cardboard and acrylic sculpture is unique in its depiction of a dog displaying signs of aggression.

Two anthropomorphic dogs pose on a stage, holding each other during a moment in between dance movements.

The sculpture of an anthropomorphic female stick dog is outfitted with authentic women's boots.

The southwest desert landscape plays a major role throughout Luján's body of work, it symbolizes not only a place, but a political statement about Mexican history and Chicano identity.

Profile view of an anthropomorphic "stick dog", prominent and recurrent figures throughout Luján's body of work.

In this mixed media diorama of a stick dog skipping across the desert, Luján's signature colorful pallete is brilliantly displayed.

Pyramids and sphinxes played prominent roles throughout Luján's body of work, they represented ties to ancient wisdom and the knowledge they could convey to the present.

Anthropomorphism is major component of "Magulandia", an alternate, diverse, and inclusive world Luján sought to create in the minds of audiences regardless of ethnic identification.

The anthropomorphic dogs in Luján's work are often rendered in geometric shapes, a nod to Aztec pyramids and pre-Colonial structures.

Luján’s animal people help to convey his core belief that there are different kinds of people in the world, and that we can interact with those who are not like us in a positive and accepting way.

This "Stick Dog" sculpture combines a signature anthropomorphic character with a minimalist aesthetic.

Another iteration of a "Sphinx Dog" made of cardboard and acrylic paint, produced in the 1980s.

This mixed media diorama by Gilbert “Magu” Luján depicts two anthropomorphic dogs posting in Venice Beach, a site in which the artist spent much of his time in.

The desert is just one of the spaces and landscapes of the Americas that play a prominent role in Luján's work. Symbolically, these places and landscapes represent home, heritage, and social meaning.

Credits: Story

All images courtesy and copyright The Estate of Gilbert “Magu” Luján.

Credits: All media
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