Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

La Playa Negra I (Tar Beach I)

2010 Antonio Martorell Born: Santurce, Puerto Rico 1939 woodcut on Japanese paper sheet and image: 59 x 47 in. (149.9 x 119.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 2010, Antonio Martorell 2012.59.1 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

Puerto Ricans who migrated to the continental United States during the early to mid-twentieth century called the rooftops of tenement buildings “tar beaches.” Martorell’s print was inspired by his study of rooftop snapshots that migrants mailed back to relatives on the island. Here a fashionable woman wears a fur-collared coat and sits in front of a New York City skyline. Her hardworking double on the left sits behind a sewing machine. In his Playa Negra (Tar Beach) series, Martorell juxtaposed migrants’ prosperous self-image with a glimpse of their tiring labor.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, 2013


Architecture - bridge

Cityscape - New York New York

Ethnic - African-American

Figure group - female

Object - other - sewing tool

graphic arts - print