Death of Rubén Salazar

  • Frank Romero, Death of Rubén Salazar, 1986, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © 1986, Frank Romero, Museum purchase made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 1993.19

Exhibition Label
Romero memorializes Rubén Salazar, a Los Angeles Times journalist and key chronicler of the Chicano civil rights movement. After covering the Chicano Moratorium of 1970, an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, Salazar stopped at the Silver Dollar Café in East LA. Reports of an armed disturbance sent deputies to the scene. A tear-gas projectile shot into the bar killed Salazar instantly. Romero combined references to this tragic day with a vision of the future when Salazar is the subject of a film announced on a theater marquee. The work’s large scale and subject link it with a tradition of grand painting that commemorates events that shaped history.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, 2013

Luce Center Label

Rubén Salazar was a writer for the Los Angeles Times and was active in the civil rights battles of the 1960s. When Chicanos rallied against the Vietnam War on August 29, 1970, police fired tear-gas canisters into the Silver Dollar Bar, where Salazar was struck and killed. To create Death of Rubén Salazar, Frank Romero combined the large scale of Mexican Revolution murals with the brilliant colors of the East LA barrio. To the right, a movie marquee announces that “La Muerte de Rubén Salazar” is now playing.

Luce Object Quote

“In my studio I have to deal with my own devils, and I wrestle with my own concerns and dreams and fears.” Frank Romero, Oral History interview, 1997, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Title
Death of Rubén Salazar
Artist
Date
1986
On View
Dimensions
72 1/4 x 120 3/8 in. (183.5 x 305.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Architecture – vehicle – automobile
  • Cityscape
  • State of being – death – murder
  • Occupation – service – policeman
  • Architecture Exterior – civic – theater
  • Architecture Exterior – commercial – tavern
Object Number
1993.19
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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