Last Updated: April 8th, 2019
A native of Tondo, Manila, Cesar Legaspi was the son of Manuel Legaspi and Rosario Torrente. With his love for painting, Legaspi earned his Certificate of Proficiency at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts and continued learning under the guidance of Pablo Amorsolo and Ireneo Miranda. During this time, he would discover that he was color blind.
Learning that he was color blind didn’t deter him from pursuing his passion for visual arts, and, by 1953, Legaspi headed to Madrid, Spain, for a scholarship at the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica. He also went to Paris, France, to study at the Académie Ranson–the same school where renowned French artists such as Gustave Jaulmes, Paul Vera, and Roger Bissière studied.
Legaspi spent many years working in the advertising business–as an art director and illustrator. He often worked on paintings on the side and it was not until 1963, where he held his first solo exhibit at the well-known Luz Gallery owned by Arturo Luz. He eventually left his career in the advertising industry in 1968 to focus on painting.
As an artist, Legaspi’s paintings dealt with universal human experience, landscapes, and street scenes. He then became known as one of the pre-War Thirteen Moderns led by Victorio Edades, head of the Saturday Group of Artists from 1978, and later, as one of the Neo-Realists.
He then mounted several exhibits abroad including one at the First Plastic Arts Conference in Rome in (1953), São Paulo Biennial in Graphic Arts (1967 and 1969), Wraxall Gallery in London with other Filipino artists (1982). He also holds the record for having five retrospective exhibits in different venues: the Museum of Philippine Art in 1978, the National Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in 1988, and the Luz Gallery and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1990.
His long career in painting culminated when he was proclaimed a National Artist for Visual Arts in 1990. Some of the awards he’s received over the years include:
- Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan, City of Manila, 1972
- Gawad CCP Para Sa Sining, Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1990
Legaspi was married to Vitaliana Kalugdan with whom he had five children. His daughter Celeste became a well-known Filipino singer and actress.
He died on April 7, 1994, due to prostate cancer. He was 76.
The Manila Project
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- National Commission for Culture and the Arts
- Geringer Art, Ltd.
- The Philippine Star
- Excerpts from several sources on Google Books