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El Chandelier

1988 Pepón Osorio Born: San Juan, Puerto Rico 1955 functional metal and glass chandelier with plastic toys and figurines, glass crystals, and other objects 60 7/8 x 42 in. (154.6 x 106.7 cm) diam. Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program © 1988, Pepón Osorio 1995.40 Not currently on view


Gallery Label

Osorio created El Chandelier for a performance piece that explored the life of a Puerto Rican woman living in New York. The fixture is encrusted with doll babies, toy bowling pins, palm trees, plastic animals, and sculptures of saints—the cheap, brightly colored decorations called chucherías that appear in “Nuyorican” households.

El Chandelier is dazzling and light hearted, but the illusion of abundance masks the realities of life in poor urban communities. Osorio saw this kind of making-do aesthetic—creating something wonderful out of nothing—in the apartments he visited when he worked as a social worker. El Chandelier, with its mixed Spanish and English title, suggests the lives of people who find themselves moving between two cultures, making a feast for the eye as a compensation.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2011

Keywords

Object - furniture - lamp

Object - toy - doll

decorative arts - furniture

glass

metal

plastic

readymade