Gustavo Agrait (1904-1998) was an essayist who also wrote stories, and poems. In 1933, he began teaching in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Later, he was the executive assistant to the chancellor, Jaime Benítez, and to the governor, Luis Muñoz Marín. 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 artistic 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: “Art Exhibitions in the University of Puerto Rico 1929–1938” (824716) and the cover of the issue of Art in Review (823185), and “Other Gifts to the Art Collection of the University of Puerto Rico” (824943).
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).