The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Franz Howanietz, a painter from Vienna who lived in Puerto Rico, comments on the exhibition of restored paintings from the collection that Federico Degetau donated to the Universidad de Puerto Rico; the exhibition opened on May 19, 1935. Howanietz, the restorer of the collection, offers brief critical commentary on many of the works reproduced in the catalogue to the show, which included 104 works.
A painter and art restorer from Vienna, Franz Howanietz came to the island when he married Puerto Rican Gloria Muñiz. In 1935, he replaced Walt Dehner at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), which hired him to restore the painting collection of Puerto Rican politician Federico Degetau that had been donated to the university in the 1910s. Degetau, the first resident commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington, DC, was a highly cultivated man who had always dreamed of founding a picture gallery in which to display paintings on the island. To that end, when he traveled to Europe he acquired paintings that were later exhibited in the classrooms and offices of the UPR. Many of these works, which were on exhibition for many years, were damaged by the hurricanes known as “San Felipe” and “San Ciprián.” The restoration of the collection was funded by the Puerto Rican Emergency Relief Administration (PRERA), an economic assistance program set up in Puerto Rico in the early-1930s during the Great Depression in the United States.
Edited by Muna Lee de Muñoz Marín, this issue of the newsletter, Art in Review, discusses the exhibitions organized and the works acquired by Walter Dehner (New York, 1898–California, 1955), the director of art at the Universidad de Puerto Rico at that time. This issue, which was published in 1937, offers an early view of the art and cultural scene in Puerto Rico. These mostly little-known documents also illustrate the importance of the Universidad de Puerto Rico as the primary venue for the first exhibitions held on the island. Related documents include the title page of this issue of Art in Review (doc. No. 823185), “Other Gifts to the Art Collection of the University of Puerto Rico” (doc. No. 824943) and “Catálogo de pinturas de la Colección Degetau con notas de apreciación artística e histórica” (doc. No. 823403).
Known as “Walt,” Dehner was not only an art educator in Puerto Rico from 1929 to 1946, but also a painter, lithographer, and photographer. Aware of the limitations of the island’s artistic milieu, he did what he could to encourage and support Puerto Rican artists. An important aspect of his work in education was organizing exhibitions, including Primera y segunda exhibición independiente de arte e historia (First and Second Exhibition of Art and History, 1929–1931); Exposición de grabados y litografías (Exhibition of Prints and Lithographs, 1930–31); Progressive Conservative Show (1931); Exposición de arte americano en blanco y negro (Exhibition of American Art in Black and White, 1932); Tercera exhibición de arte puertorriqueño (Third Exhibition of Puerto Rican Art, 1933); and Exposición de arte contemporáneo de México (Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Mexico, 1935).