Born at Estancia del Refugio in the state of Guanajuato. Magaña fled a rural Mexico laid waste by the Revolution for Mexico City. He was fifty-six and a porter at the Coyoacán Open-Air Painting School with no formal art training when he turned out his first clay models and wood carvings. Mexico in that era was trying to forge a new identity that embraced nationalistic aspiration, popular culture, and the country's pre-Hispanic heritage. The mandate of the Open-Air Painting Schools was to give students freedom to create, their sensibility and imagination unfettered by academic norms. Magaña innate gift for sculpture was quickly noticed by Ignacio Asúnsulo, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, the gallery owner Inés Amor, and Diego Rivera, who helped Magaña's first solo show at the Palace of Fine Arts in 1930. Mainly genre scenes with clusters of people and animals, the plain, rough-hewn figures of Magaña's powerfully ovocative works are oblivious to classic anatomical proportions. His "Snake" is part of the Rockfeller Center Collection in New York.
Papa Mar as told by his family