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.
In this article, Puerto Rican art historian Marimar Benítez addresses Puerto Rico’s twentieth-century art production made on the Island and in the United States as torn between the quest for a national artistic expression and that which embraces international avant-garde forms. This tension—a product of the Island’s colonial status vis-à-vis the United States—climaxed in the 1950s when artists were polarized in two camps: a regional school that exalted national identity and another attracted to the New York School and other metropolitan styles. In the 1960s and ‘70s, artists like Rafael Ferrer and Rafael Montañez-Ortiz devised forms of reconciling these opposing tendencies, employing a contemporary art language that challenged American stereotypes about Latinos. Their work epitomizes Puerto Rican artists’ attempts to find an authentic voice that is simultaneously specific and universal.
This essay was one of the first documents to consider the art produced by Puerto Ricans from the Island and the Diaspora alongside each other. The essay provides an excellent overview of Puerto Rican art history, as well as that of the Island’s political and cultural history at large.