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Puerto Rican historian and curator Marimar Benítez discusses the importance of the print—particularly of the linoleum variety—to artists of the 1950s. Social commentary, condemnation of living conditions among Puerto Ricans, and criticism of the colonial regime are recurring subject matter in the works of all these artists. Benítez provides an overall review of the three most significant decades in the evolution of Puerto Rican prints—from the 1950s through the 1970s—thus underscoring the importance of the establishment of the Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano [San Juan Biennial of Latin American Prints] in 1970. Some of the artists mentioned in this essay are Lorenzo Homar, Rafael Tufiño, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Carlos Marichal, José R. Alicea, Myrna Báez, Antonio Martorell, Rafael Rivera Rosa, José Rosa, and Luis Hernández Cruz, among others.


Puerto Rican printing reached a broad cross section of the population, and enjoyed its heyday following the establishment of three centers or workshops. After holding an open-air exhibition at the Plaza Baldorioty in San Juan in 1949, a group of artists led by Félix Rodríguez Báez, José A. Torres Martinó, and Rafael Tufiño founded the Centro de Arte Puertorriqueño [CAP, Puerto Rican Art Center] in 1950. CAP was guided by four objectives: to develop a distinctly Puerto Rican form of art; to encourage the people of the island to identify with art; to work together as a group; and to promote a preference for printing as a medium that was capable of reaching a wider audience. Eventually, almost every member of CAP worked for the Department of Printing (or Filming) at the Community Education Division, better known by its Spanish acronym, DIVEDCO. Some years later, as a result of the founding of the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [ICP, Puerto Rican Cultural Institute] in 1956, another important printing workshop was launched where the next generation of printers was trained, under the direction of Lorenzo Homar. 

Flavia Marichal Lugo
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of the private archives of Marimar Benítez, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Museo de Historia, Antropologia y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras.