Miguel Corvarrubias was born in the Bohemian section of Mexico City on November 22, 1904. The son of a civil engineer, Corvarrubias dropped out of high school at the age of fourteen. He went to work for his father drawing maps and eventually became a self-taught artist. He moved to New York City in 1923, and soon after he gained recognition as an illustrator, stage designer and caricature artist. He illustrated issues of Vogue, the New Yorker and was known for his Art Deco covers of Vanity Fair. During the 1920's he studied in Paris, France and later traveled to Bali. Covarrubias became a well known name in the art circle and social scene in New York and was a good friend of Mexican painter Diego Rivera.
Corvarrubias returned to Bali in 1933 on a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. He spent more than a year researching Bali and the Balinese culture in order to write his acclaimed book, Island of Bali, in 1936. He created detailed drawings and aquarelles for the book in soft pastels and bold pinks and reds. He used curvaceous lines and was a master of color technique using gouache opaque watercolor.
Corvarrubias painted six murals for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Fransisco in 1939. The Murals were detailed maps of the Pacific, and the people and culture associated with that region. It is evident from their detail, the depictions of the inhabitants, flora and fauna of the Pacific countries, that much research went into the painting of the murals. Over his career Corvarrubias has made a great contribution to art through his drawings and writings, educating people about Mexican and Pacific Rim culture and art.