Latinx Art

Media - 2020.25.1 - SAAM-2020.25.1_1 - 138936
Miguel Luciano, Double Phantom/EntroP.R., 2017, 1952 Schwinn Phantom bicycles, flags, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by Marianna and Juan A. Sabater, 2020.25.1, © 2017, Miguel Luciano. photo: Jason Wyche

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s leading Latinx art collection represents a profound commitment to building a great national collection reflecting the rich contributions of Latinos to our country, from the colonial period to the present. Artists featured in the collection reflect the diversity of Latino communities in the United States, including artists of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican descent, as well as other Latin American groups with deep roots in the United States.


SAAM’s Latinx collection presents a picture of an evolving national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by “American” and “Latino.” Themes since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge, tackle civil rights, identity, and reexamining community and bicultural experiences. Many of the Latinx artists in the collection critically probe American history and popular culture, revealing the possibilities and tensions of expansionism, migration, and settlement. Other Latinx artists devote themselves to experimentation and form, pushing the limits of their chosen medium.

The Collection

The museum began actively collecting Latino art in 1979 beginning with Luis Jiménez's Man on Fire, the first artwork by a Latinx artist to enter the permanent collection. Artworks range from colonial religious works and woven textiles to abstract expressionist paintings and contemporary installations. The museum’s Chicanx graphics holdings rose significantly with an important gift in 1995 from the renowned scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. Since then, SAAM has received major donations from important print collectors such as Ricardo and Harriet Romo, Gilberto Cárdenas and Dolores García, and the estate of Margaret Terrazas Santos. With these substantial gifts, along with an ambitious acquisition program, SAAM has built the largest museum collections of Chicanx graphics on the East Coast, with over 560 objects. In 1996, businessman, folklorist, collector, and philanthropist Teodoro Vidal gifted his historic collection of Puerto Rican colonial art to SAAM. The Vidal Collection had a transformative effect on how the museum can tell the story of colonial art in the Americas, showing how a rich and unique kind of colonial artistic production took place beyond the thirteen colonies.

In 2010, E. Carmen Ramos joined the museum as curator of Latinx art. During her tenure, the museum acquired paintings and sculptures by modern and contemporary artists such as ADÁLOlga AlbizuMaría Magdalena Campos-PonsMelesio “Mel” CasasTeresita FernándezCarmen HerreraLuis JiménezYolanda LópezVik MunizRaphael Montañez OrtizFreddy Rodríguez, and Rafael Soriano.

Selected Works

Notable artworks from the collection range from eighteenth-century colonial Puerto Rico works by José Campeche and The Caban Group to contemporary works by Carlos AlfonzoCarmen Lomas GarzaAna MendietaAmalia Mesa-Bains, and Pepón Osorio. Influential graphic artists and collectives in the collection include Rupert GarcíaMalaquias MontoyaEster Hernández, the Royal Chicano Air Force, David AvalosElizabeth SiscoLouis HockSandra FernándezJuan de Dios Mora, the Dominican York Proyecto Grafíca, Enrique ChagoyaRené CastroJuan Fuentes, and Linda Lucero, among others.

Selected Works

Media - 1995.40 - SAAM-1995.40_1 - 12547
El Chandelier
functional metal and glass chandelier with plastic toys and figurines, glass crystals, and other objects
Not on view
Media - 1995.54.1.2 - SAAM-1995.54.1.2_1 - 12625
Anima (Alma/​Soul)
Date1976, printed 1977
chromogenic print
Not on view
Media - 1998.161 - SAAM-1998.161_2 - 91105
An Ofrenda for Dolores del Rio
Date1984, revised 1991
mixed media installation including plywood, mirrors, fabric, framed photographs, found objects, dried flowers and glitter
Not on view
Media - 2020.51A-MM - SAAM-2020.51A-MM_1 - 140962
Justice for Our Lives
78 digital images
Not on view
Media - 2012.53.1 - SAAM-2012.53.1_1 - 82036
RIFA, from Méchicano 1977 Calendario
screenprint on paperboard
Not on view
Media - 2020.25.1 - SAAM-2020.25.1_1 - 138936
Double Phantom/EntroP.R.
1952 Schwinn Phantom bicycles, flags
On view
Media - 2013.23A-P - SAAM-2013.23A-P_1 - 85107
instant color prints
Not on view
Media - 1995.54.1.1 - SAAM-1995.54.1.1_1 - 12623
Anima (Alma/​Soul)
Date1976, printed 1977
chromogenic print
Not on view
Datemodeled 1980/cast 1990
acrylic urethane, fiberglass, steel armature
On view
Media - 2013.20A-B - SAAM-2013.20_1 - 87448
West Side Story Upside Down, Backwards, Sideways and Out of…
suitcase, flat-screen LCD monitor, single-channel digital video, color, sound; 12:51 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2013.17 - SAAM-2013.17_2 - 89864
oil on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2014.20 - SAAM-2014.20_1 - 106841
oil on masonite
On view
Media - 2014.52 - SAAM-2014.52_1 - 116655
Shifting States: Iraq
acrylic, prisma color pencil, oil stick, and shellac on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2012.37 - SAAM-2012.37_1 - 79864
Humanscape 62
acrylic on canvas
On view
Media - 1998.18 - SAAM-1998.18_1 - 13268
Where Tears Can’t Stop
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1998.31.1 - SAAM-1998.31.1_1 - 13277
Big James Sweats Buckets
gelatin silver print
Not on view
Media - 2011.27A-B - SAAM-2011.27A-B_2 - 90591
Blanco y Verde
acrylic on canvas
On view
Media - 2013.21 - SAAM-2013.21_1 - 86703
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2012.38A-C - SAAM-2012.38A-C_2-000001 - 137292
Nocturnal (Horizon Line)
solid graphite on panel
On view
Media - 2016.30.8 - 2016.30.8_1a.jpg - 125868
Group of Young Men on 111th Street
Date1966, printed 2016
gelatin silver print
Not on view
Media - 2019.50.2 - SAAM-2019.50.2_1 - 138138
Breaking the Fast, 1968
screenprint on paper
Not on view
Media - 2020.43.1 - SAAM-2020.43.1_1 - 138926
Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?
offset lithograph on paper
Not on view
Media - 2011.10.3 - SAAM-2011.10.3_2 - 90590
Amor Africano
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2013.28.1 - SAAM-2013.28.1_1-000001 - 87896
The Dominican York, from the series Island of Many Gods
acrylic, charcoal, ink, and sequins on paper
Not on view
Media - 2012.31.2 - SAAM-2012.31.2_1 - 81983
Candor de la Alborada (Candor of Dawn)
oil on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1997.70 - SAAM-1997.70_1 - 12816
The Magic Room
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1998.90 - SAAM-1998.90_1 - 13330
Humanscape 141: Barrio Dog
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1996.91.7 - SAAM-1996.91.7_1 - 67719
Nuestra Señora de Belén
Datelate 18th century
oil on copper
Not on view
Media - 1995.25.2 - SAAM-1995.25.2_1 - 81754
Lotería-Segunda Tabla
color etching on paper
Not on view

Related Artists

ADAL wears a tuxedo and fedora in front of windows. Text below him reads "Auto-Portrait: As I began to disappear I realized someone was beginning to forget me"
born Utuado, Puerto Rico 1948-died San Juan, Puerto Rico 2020
Olga Albizu
born Ponce, Puerto Rico 1924-died New York, NY 2005
María Magdalena Campos-Pons
born La Vega, Province of Matanzas, Cuba 1959
Melesio Casas
born El Paso, TX 1929-died San Antonio, TX 2014
Teresita Fernández
born Miami, FL 1968
Carmen Herrera
born Havana, Cuba 1915-died New York City 2022
Media - portrait_image_113566.jpg - 90312
Luis Jiménez
born El Paso, TX 1940-died Hondo, NM 2006

Born in Texas, lives in New Mexico. Sculptor, teacher whose large fiberglass figures capture the color and vigor of Hispanic-American women and men.

Charles Sullivan, ed American Beauties: Women in Art and Literature (New York: Henry N.

Yolanda López
born San Diego, CA 1942-died San Francisco, CA 2021
Vik Muniz
born Sao Paulo, Brazil 1961
Raphael Montañez Ortiz
born New York City 1934
Freddy Rodríguez
born Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic 1945-died New York City 2022
Rafael Soriano
born Cidra, Province of Matanzas, Cuba 1920-died Miami, FL 2015



Media - 2011.12 - SAAM-2011.12_1 - 77591
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Media - 2012.53.1 - SAAM-2012.53.1_1 - 82036
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