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. Installation view courtesy of BRIC House, Brooklyn, NY. 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.

Themes

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
Date1988
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
Date2014-Present
78 digital images
Not on view
Media - 2012.53.1 - SAAM-2012.53.1_1 - 82036
RIFA, from Méchicano 1977 Calendario
Date1976
screenprint on paperboard
Not on view
Media - 2020.25.1 - SAAM-2020.25.1_1 - 138936
Double Phantom/EntroP.R.
Date2017
1952 Schwinn Phantom bicycles, flags
Not on view
Media - 2013.23A-P - SAAM-2013.23A-P_1 - 85107
Constellation
Date2004
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
Media - 1990.44 - 1990.44_1a.jpg - 10977
Vaquero
Datemodeled 1980/cast 1990
acrylic urethane, fiberglass, steel armature
On view
Media - 2013.20 - SAAM-2013.20_1 - 87448
West Side Story Upside Down, Backwards, Sideways and Out of…
Artist
Date2002
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
Radiante
Date1967
oil on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2014.20 - SAAM-2014.20_1 - 106841
Braceros
Date1960
oil on masonite
Not on view
Media - 2014.52 - SAAM-2014.52_1 - 116655
Shifting States: Iraq
Date2011
acrylic, prisma color pencil, oil stick, and shellac on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2012.37 - SAAM-2012.37_1 - 79864
Humanscape 62
Date1970
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1998.18 - SAAM-1998.18_1 - 13268
Where Tears Can’t Stop
Date1986
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1998.31.1 - SAAM-1998.31.1_1 - 13277
Big James Sweats Buckets
Date1996
gelatin silver print
Not on view
Media - 2011.27A-B - SAAM-2011.27A-B_2 - 90591
Blanco y Verde
Date1960
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2013.21 - SAAM-2013.21_1 - 86703
Platanal
Date1974
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2012.38A-C - SAAM-2012.38A-C_2-000001 - 137292
Nocturnal (Horizon Line)
Date2010
solid graphite on panel
Not 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
Date2012
screenprint on paper
Not on view
Media - 2020.43.1 - SAAM-2020.43.1_1 - 138926
Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?
Date1981
offset lithograph on paper
Not on view
Media - 2011.10.3 - SAAM-2011.10.3_2 - 90590
Amor Africano
Date1974
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
Date2006
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)
Date1994
oil on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1997.70 - SAAM-1997.70_1 - 12816
The Magic Room
Date1994
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1998.90 - SAAM-1998.90_1 - 13330
Humanscape 141: Barrio Dog
Date1987
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
Date1972
color etching on paper
Not on view

Related Artists

ADÁL
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.

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
Rafael Soriano
born Cidra, Province of Matanzas, Cuba 1920-died Miami, FL 2015

Videos

Exhibitions

Media - 2011.12 - SAAM-2011.12_1 - 77591
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
October 24, 2013March 2, 2014
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. It explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture.
Photograph of children playing in the water from a fire hydrant by Hiram Maristany
Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography
May 11, 2017August 5, 2017
America’s urban streets have long inspired documentary photographers. After World War II, populations shifted from the city to the suburbs and newly built highways cut through thriving neighborhoods, leaving isolated pockets within major urban centers. As neighborhoods started to decline in the 1950s, the photographers in this exhibition found ways to call attention to changing cities and their residents. Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography explores the work of ten photographers—Manuel Acevedo, Oscar Castillo, Frank Espada, Anthony Hernandez, Perla de Leon, Hiram Maristany, Ruben Ochoa, John Valadez, Winston Vargas, and Camilo José Vergara—who were driven to document and reflect on the state of American cities during these transformative years.
Media - 2012.53.1 - SAAM-2012.53.1_1 - 82036
¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now
November 20, 2020August 8, 2021
In the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. ¡Printing the Revolution! explores the rise of Chicano graphics within these early social movements and the ways in which Chicanx artists since then have advanced innovative printmaking practices attuned to social justice.