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Puerto Rican art historian Margarita Fernández Zavala divides Myrna Báez’s graphic work into four parallel stylistic discourses: costumbrismo (representation of local everyday life), formalism, expressionism, and lyricism. Fernández Zavala dates Báez’s costumbrismo period to the years after she studied art in Spain, when her graphic work was distinctly regionalist. Her formalist work, which analyzes design, composition, and volume, marks the period when Báez obtained aesthetic autonomy and a distinct cultural and artistic identity. The expressionist discourse, which is the fruit of technical mastery, is not entirely independent from the formalist period. Lastly, the lyrical discourse—which Fernández Zavala considers “the most complex and beautiful of her voices”—is marked by the sensual and poetic language of her now-mature work.


Myrna Báez (San Juan, b. 1931) studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando [San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts] in Madrid, at the Taller de Gráfica del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña [Puerto Rican Cultural Institute Print Workshop], where Lorenzo Homar was the director, and at the Graphic Arts Workshop at Pratt Institute in New York. Together with José A. Torres Martinó and other artists, she was a founding member of the Hermandad de Artistas Gráficos [Fraternity of Graphic Artists] in 1981, which was organized to protest the cultural intervention of the annexationist government that was in power at the time. In 1988, the VIII Bienal de San Juan del Grabado Latinoamericano [8th San Juan Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Prints] honored her as a Puerto Rican artist.

Flavia Marichal Lugo
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico