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ICAA Highlights for September 2017

Sep 12

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9/12/2017 1:55 PM  RssIcon

This September the ICAA celebrates this year’s Hispanic Heritage month in the U.S. by organizing an online exhibit at the museum’s own Google Art Project homepage, which features the work of six Latino artists whose works are part of the museum’s permanent collection: Lorenzo Homar; César Augusto Martínez; Marcos Raya; Daniel Joseph Martínez; Gabriel Orozco; and José Gabriel Fernández.

Considered a master printmaker, Lorenzo Homar (1913–2004) and his family emigrated from Puerto Rico to New York City in 1928. There he studied painting with Rufino Tamayo and Arthur Osver, as well as intaglio with Gabor Peterdi, at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Homar also attended New York’s Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. He also worked at the House of Cartier as a jewelry designer, before returning to Puerto Rico in 1950, where he studied historical Spanish calligraphy and penmanship at San Juan’s Casa del Libro. Homar collaborated in the Graphics Workshop of the Division for Community Education (DIVEDCO) and left that position in 1957 to head the Graphics Workshop at the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña until 1972.

One of the most important living Chicano artists as well as a preeminent South Texas artist, César A. Martínez (b. 1944) was born and reared in Laredo, Texas, with familial ties to Nuevo León in Northern Mexico. This San Antonio–based artist attended Laredo Junior College and earned a BS degree in art education from Texas A&M University in Kingsville. He was drafted in 1969 and served in Korea until 1971, when he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. Martínez creates work that deals with the duality of life along the Texas–Mexico border and the hybrid culture that has evolved there. He was a founding member of several important Chicano art collectives in San Antonio, including Con Safos (along with Mel Casas and Felipe Reyes) and Los Quemados (literally, the Burnt Ones, with Armando Peña and Carmen Lomas Garza). Martínez is equally well regarded as one of the principal theoreticians of the early Chicano art movement of the 1970s, and his critical work is considered to be seminal among historians of Chicano art.

A Chicago-based artist, Marcos Raya (b. 1948) was born in Irapuato, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. The son of Mexican workers, Raya arrived in Chicago in 1964 at age 14 after his parents’ separation. Largely self-taught, he attended courses at Mexico City’s San Carlos Academy in the late 1960s. After he returned to Chicago from Mexico, the artist stumbled in and out of alcoholism, an experience that lent his work a hallucinatory intensity as well as a macabre sense of humor. Raya gained international notoriety for his 1970s community-based murals in Chicago’s working-class and immigrant neighborhoods, such as his large-scale mural "Homage to Diego Rivera" from 1972. In it the artist loosely re-created Rivera’s destroyed 1933 Rockefeller Center mural, "Man at the Crossroads" (also known as "Man, Controller of the Universe"). In his work, Raya is concerned with depicting a “mechanical universe” akin to the Mexican muralist’s transformation of man into machine, a concern that the Chicago-based artist returns to in his work.

A native of Los Angeles, Daniel Joseph Martínez (b. 1957) earned a BFA degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles in 1979 and pursued independent post-undergraduate study with German artist Klaus Rinke. Martínez gained mainstream notoriety in 1993 when he was selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial, and again in 2008.  The dehumanizing aspects of technology—as well as its breakdown, the feeling that something has gone terribly wrong—is at the core of much of Martínez’s recent work. Long situated in the post-1965 traditions of Conceptual, Performance, and Situationist art, his work is often brutally shocking, frontal, and even insulting. However, if one can transcend the initial discomfort and revulsion that is felt when confronting Martínez’s work, it becomes engaging and evocative of humankind’s vulnerability.

U.S.-based Venezuelan artist José Gabriel Fernández (b. 1957) is one of the most important Venezuelan artists to emerge in the 1990s. His work proposes an intimate reading of sculpture through pristine geometries and volumes, stimulating a dialogue between sculpture and the body.

Since the 1990s, Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962)—who divides his time between Paris, New York, and Mexico City—has generated a wide body of work that weaves together his interest in abstract, geometric structures and everyday social concerns. By encouraging a kind of physical public contact with his interactive works that is intimate and sometimes playful, Orozco brings some of the chaos and uncertainty of the outside world into seemingly tranquil traditional museum or gallery environments.

We encourage our readers to enjoy this online exhibit at Google Art Project homepage for the MFAH Collection. Our readers can also learn more about these six Latino artists at the ICAA digital archive.

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