El Chandelier

Media - 1995.40 - SAAM-1995.40_1 - 12547
Copied Pepón Osorio, El Chandelier, 1988, functional metal and glass chandelier with plastic toys and figurines, glass crystals, and other objects, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1995.40, © 1988, Pepón Osorio

Artwork Details

Title
El Chandelier
Date
1988
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
60 7842 in. (154.6106.7 cm) diam.
Copyright
© 1988, Pepón Osorio
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program
Mediums Description
functional metal and glass chandelier with plastic toys and figurines, glass crystals, and other objects
Classifications
Highlights
Keywords
  • Object — furniture — lamp
  • Object — toy — doll
Object Number
1995.40

Artwork Description

 

 

When Osorio worked as a social worker in New York City he often saw elaborate chandeliers hanging in humble apartment homes. This experience led him to appreciate the meaning behind buying tchotchkes and expensive-looking objects. The plastic palm trees, coquis (iconic Puerto Rican frogs), dominos, and tassels that adorn his light source suggest coping mechanisms in the face of adversity and migration. Sculptures of Catholic saints and variously complexioned dolls reference Afro-Caribbean spiritual systems and racial hierarchies. Spanish and English mingle in the work’s title, conjuring a space between cultures and realities.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, 2013

 

 

Description in Spanish

Cuando Osorio trabajaba como asistente social en Nueva York, solía ver vistosas arañas de cristal colgadas en apartamentos humildes. Esta experiencia le llevó a apreciar el significado oculto de la compra de chucherías y objetos de apariencia lujosa. Las palmeras de plástico, los coquíes (ranas icónicas de Puerto Rico), las fichas de dominó, y las borlas que decoran esta lámpara sugieren mecanismos para sobrevivir la adversidad y la migración. Las esculturas de santos católicos y las muñecas de varios tonos de piel aluden a los sistemas espirituales afrocaribeños y a las jerarquías raciales. El español y el inglés se mezclan en el título de la obra, conjurando un espacio entre culturas y realidades.

Nuestra América: la presencia latina en el arte estadounidense, 2013

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

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.