Puerto Rico Plural

Experience Puerto Rico through the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico's permanent exhibition

From the Countryside to the City: Internal Migration in Puerto Rico | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican experience

What is the Puerto Rican experience about? How does it represent us? What can we say about it? Consciously or unconsciously, Puerto Rican art has been answering these questions over time. The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR) also asked these questions to a diverse sample of people from the community through focus group discussions. The information gathered through their responses was used to develop the collaborative project that resulted in this exhibition. Puerto Rico Plural combines works of artists from different generations, historical periods, and different media, with the aim of showing the plurality of Puerto Rican art from the eighteenth century to the present. This individual and collective experience goes beyond geographical limits, and is the common essence that unites us, although sometimes it also provokes division.

Fuera de registro #3 (Series) (2019) by Ivelisse JiménezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

 Artworks, objects, and reference materials from the MAPR collection were selected along with others from public and private collections, as well as commissioned works. In this way, the exhibition presents a broad view of what we are: our cultural, historical, political, and demographic diversity, extolling the role of artists from all disciplines as chroniclers of their time, and of our Caribbean reality. The exhibition includes yearnings, tributes, denunciations, contrasts, and convergences, as well as provocations for dialogue. Likewise, the thematic galleries do not attempt to offer a single reading. For this reason, Puerto Rico Plural is an invitation to encounter and reflect on Puerto Rican culture —our history, our people, and our art. A grant received in May 2018 through The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was an essential contribution to the development of this exhibition. This grant allowed us to satisfy the conservation needs of our art collection, patrimony of all Puerto Ricans. We invite you now to discover the plurality of the Puerto Rican experience through the following thematic galleries. 

Horizons The Past, the Present, and the Possible | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Horizons: the past, the present and the possible

Following the Hispanic American War (1898), Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States, generating a social and political dilemma that has shaped the history of the island to this day. The constant coming and going that characterizes our history (and which has now become more evident) brings new social, political, economic, and cultural challenges. The different generations of artists, through their testimonies, have been the best chroniclers of our history. Rethinking these scenarios is an essential starting point for building a better future. The artworks exhibited in this room illustrate the dream and the failure of the project of modernity in Puerto Rico, placing us within the dilemma of contemporaneity. 

Swell (2013) by Frances GallardoMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

La Plena (1952/1954) by Rafael TufiñoMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Handicapped (1985) by Julio Rosado del ValleMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Sugar Mill (1890) by Francisco Oller y CesteroMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Till Death Do Us Part (1994) by Anaida HernándezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Forms and Origins: Ancestral Heritage | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Forms and origins: ancestral heritage

Modern art emerged in Europe in the late nineteenth century as a response of young artists to classical models taught by the academy, and gradually expanded to other continents. Artists resorted to the art from different ancient cultures, considered “primitive” at the time, in search of other sources or aesthetic models. This new aesthetic trend soon reached Latin American artists, who had a vast cultural baggage distant from European tradition. Central American and South American artists searched for new models in pre-Columbian cultures. 

Hall of Regions (2004) by Jaime SuárezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Interior Topography Sphere IX (1985) by Jaime SuárezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Fragment of a Unfinished Story (1998) by Víctor VázquezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The National Feeling: Patriotic Arise | Gallery viewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The national feeling: patriotic arise

According to historians, a national identity was forged for the first time among the “criollo” population (individuals born in Puerto Rican territory after colonization) during the English defeat in 1797, when people came from all over the island to defend San Juan. A hundred years later, in 1898, this national feeling was shaken in the wake of the Spanish-American War, when Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States of America. 

The Daughters of Governor Ramón de Castro (1797) by José CampecheMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Panoramic View of San Juan (1948) by Rafael ColoradoMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

From the Countryside to the City: Internal Migration in Puerto Rico | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

From the countryside to the city: internal migration in Puerto Rico

By the 1930s, approximately a quarter of the population lived in urban centers. Twenty years later, the figures doubled. A large part of these migrant populations settled in improvised dwellings, forming slums. Even today, the trace of these economic events is palpable around the island, as a vestige of a manifest urban improvisation. Artists of younger generations have developed a critical sense of consciousness and awareness, direct heirs of their predecessors in the fifties, using their art as a form of activism and protest. 

From the Countryside to the City: Internal Migration in Puerto Rico | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Agriculture (1960) by Augusto MarínMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Eat Local Fruits (1956) by Santos René IrizarryMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Social Interest or Walmart at Santurce (2013) by Rogelio BáezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

History Continues: From 1898 to Our Days | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

History continues: from 1898 to our days

Following the Hispanic American War (1898), Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States, generating a social and political dilemma that has shaped the history of the island to this day. The constant coming and going that characterizes our history (and which has now become more evident) brings new social, political, economic, and cultural challenges. The different generations of artists, through their testimonies, have been the best chroniclers of our history. Rethinking these scenarios is an essential starting point for building a better future. The artworks exhibited in this room illustrate the dream and the failure of the project of modernity in Puerto Rico, placing us within the dilemma of contemporaneity. 

History Continues: From 1898 to Our Days | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Governor without a Nation (1997) by Marta Pérez GarcíaMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Exodus II (2000) by Rafael TrellesMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Occupation of Utuado (1945) by Julio Tomás MartínezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

My First Time With Obama (2008) by Osvaldo BudetMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

No Crying Allowed on the Barber Shop (1994) by Pepón OsorioMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

No Crying Allowed in the Barber Shop: Pepón Osorio’s installation  

In this installation, the artist presents us with two characteristic manifestations of Puerto Rican culture. First, it unfolds the nostalgia of the people who live outside their homeland through an immense catalog of objects that refer to the collective imaginary of migrants. On the other hand, the signs and symbols of machismo are evident in the men posing in the videos, and in the large-scale tattoo painted on the wall: Forgive me, mother. 

No Crying Allowed on the Barber Shop: Pepón Osorio’s installation | Gallery View (1994) by Pepón OsorioMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Voices and Echoes: Beyond Our Frontiers | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Voices and echoes: beyond our frontiers

This gallery presents the existing exchange between our artists and creators from other eras and latitudes. In addition, punctual artworks that reformulate the definition of art based on the artists’ personal experiences, in a self-referential dialogue to define their own voices. 

Voices and Echoes: Beyond Our Frontiers | Gallery viewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Untitled (1979) by René SantosMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Garden of Intolerance: In the End, Like Fathers, Like Mad Men, Like Heroes (2002) by Arnaldo Roche-RabellMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Carbon Copies: Homage to "El Velorio" (2000) by Antonio MartorellMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Card Game # 2 (1989) by Elizam EscobarMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Reach of the Gaze: Reflexions about Landscape | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The reach of the gaze: reflections about landscape

Landscape in Puerto Rican painting dates back to the eighteenth century, as the scenery of José Campeche’s most iconic portraits. In the nineteenth century, Francisco Oller developed landscape as an independent theme through his exploration of Impressionism, a style that sought to capture landscape under the changing effects of light.  In the twentieth century, Puerto Rican landscape continued to inspire our artists, who worked to reflect on canvas its exuberance and its unique characteristics. However, with the arrival of Expressionist figuration and Abstract art in the mid-twentieth century, landscape became more complex. 

The Reach of the Gaze: Reflexions about Landscape | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Río Piedras, Cayey, Bayamón and Border Areas (2003) by Nora Rodríguez VallésMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Balcony (2002) by María de Mater O’NeillMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Hugo's Mango Tree and The Fragile Flamboyán Tree (1990) by Lorenzo HomarMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Untitled (Landscape) (1937) by Luisina OrdoñezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Corozal Landscape (1965) by Samuel SánchezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Promenade on the Portugués River (ca.1930) by Horacio CastaingMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Images and Words: Art in Literature | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Images and words: art in literature

Early in the history of Puerto Rico’s visual arts, artists sought to immortalize the most influential writers. The artworks in this gallery guide us through a historical approach to the relationship between visual arts and literature in Puerto Rico, exploring numerous metaphorical interpretations between both disciplines. 

Images and Words: Art in Literature | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Julia de Burgos (1981) by Carlos IrizarryMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Borges or The Aleph (1973/1980) by Francisco RodónMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Tribute to Nilita Vientós Gastón (1986) by Margarita Fernández ZavalaMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Eternal Dialogue (From the Situ Suite Series) by Néstor Otero and 2000Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Trance (From the Situ Suite Series) by Néstor OteroMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Covering to See (1999/2000) by Chemi Rosado SeijoMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Identity Values: The Popular Imaginary | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Identity values: the popular imaginary

Our customs and traditions can be seen as a weave made of the material, artistic, and spiritual manifestations created and transmitted by a human group. These values, beliefs, and practices become an image of “how we see ourselves” and what identifies and differentiate us from other cultures. Such is the case of music, dance, gastronomy, popular festivals, religious celebrations, and traditional games, among many others. 

Identity Values: The Popular Imaginary | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Virgin of Coffee (1981/1983) by Marta PérezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Still Life With Fried Egg and Avocados, (1963) by José R. OliverMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Vitín's Room (2004) by Stanley CollMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Mercedes at the Altar (1997) by Aixa RequenaMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Martians Arrived with Saints (1996) by Jaime CarreroMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Beach Goers (Having Fun) (1987) by Carmelo SobrinoMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Variations of Matter: Abstraction in Visual Arts | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Variations of matter: abstraction in visual arts

Abstract art in Puerto Rico has its origins in the mid-1940s, with the arrival of the Spanish-American painter Esteban Vicente, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico between 1946-1947. One of his students, Olga Albizu, traveled to New York in 1948 to study with the German painter Hans Hoffman, a forerunner of North American abstract expressionism. This was not an isolated event. However, there is a very relevant chapter in the history of the island’s abstract art movement: the creation of Grupo Frente in 1977, a movement for the social renewal of art, initially formed by Paul Camacho, Lope Max Díaz, Antonio Navia, and Luis Hernández Cruz, its director. Their objective of social, educational, artistic, and cultural commitment had consequent favorable results for the creation and formation of new art collectives until our days. 

Variations of Matter: Abstraction in Visual Arts | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Birth of Eros (1971) by Zilia SánchezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Composition of Organic Forms Over Large White Shape (1977) by Luis Hernández CruzMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Vision XI (1985/1986) by Oscar Mestey VillamilMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

900-50-80 (1978) by Olga AlbizuMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Art and Consciousness: The 1970’s and 1980’s in Puerto Rico | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Art and consciousness: the 1970s and 1980s in Puerto Rico

At the beginning of the 1970s, oppressed communities worldwide claimed their rights and their place in society with more impetus than ever. Puerto Rico was no exception. The struggles against race, class and gender discrimination, among others, strengthened during this time. In the 1980s, new galleries emerged in Puerto Rico, and contests and biennials were developed. A renewed art critic promoted and prepared the scene for the internationalization of the Puerto Rican arts of the time. The material and discursive repercussions of this context strongly influenced production of art, promoting technical, stylistic, and thematic breaks that were passed on to following generations. 

Art and Consciousness: The 1970’s and 1980’s in Puerto Rico | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Lolita Lebrón (1985/1990) by Domingo GarcíaMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Strike (1960) by Fran CervoniMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Untitled by Ramón AboyMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The Judge (1970) by Myrna BáezMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Reaffirmation and Changes: The Nineties and the New Century | Gallery View IIMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Reaffirmation and  changes: the nineties and the new century

After decades of uninterrupted social, cultural, and political struggles, Puerto Rican visual arts grew in a multiplicity of expressions, materials, and styles. From the 1990s, a series of collectives, foundations, and activists worked and advocated in favor of the non-negotiable rights of marginalized sectors in Puerto Rico. In the following decades, national art witnessed the characteristic signs of globalization and contemporaneity. Our artists discussed international aesthetics with greater impulse, while innovatively reaffirming the repertoire of symbols and iconographies inherited from previous generations. 

Reaffirmation and Changes: The Nineties and the New Century | Gallery ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Diagram of a Incomplete Ideal (2015) by Alexis BousquetsMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Albizu for Kids (2004) by José Luis VargasMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

A Esop, A Ekirts (2004) by Ana Rosa RiveraMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Plural: Hall ViewMuseo de Arte de Puerto Rico

It took the Museum's team a little over one year to put together the Puerto Rico Plural exhibition. The complex, yet exciting, process was documented with the purpose of sharing it with the public. Visit blog299dediego.wordpress.com, and discover behind the scenes images and insight into the exhibition's development.

Credits: Story

The multidisciplinary team that was responsible for the development of the Puerto Rico Plural exhibition consisted of:

Marta Mabel Pérez,
Acting Executive Director

Amanda Z. Alonso,
Executive Assistant / Project Manager

Juan Carlos López-Quintero,
MAPR Collection Curator

Sol Elena Rivera,
Conservator

Garvin Sierra,
Exhibitions Designer

Marnie Pérez,
Registrar

María de Lourdes Morales,
Associate Curator

Miguel A. Torres,
Researcher

Félix Meléndez & Axel Ruiz,
Preparators

Yarimil Figueroa,
Supervisor School and Family Program

Yetzenia Y. Álvarez,
Public Relations and Communications Manager

Xavier Valcárcel,
Communications Coordinator

We recognize the valuable contribution of those who were part of the focus groups: artists, cultural institutions, academics, students and representatives from the immediate community and of all of Puerto Rico.

We also thank the collectors and institutions whose artworks are part of this exhibition as loan.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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