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HomeArtA Contextual Retrospective” Opens at El Museo del Barrio

A Contextual Retrospective” Opens at El Museo del Barrio


El Museo del Barrio is pleased to present Raphael Montañez Ortiz: A Contextual Retrospective, on view from April 14 through September 11, 2022. This is the first large-scale exhibition (and the most extensive to date) dedicated to the museum’s founder, the artist, activist, and educator Raphael Montañez Ortiz, since 1988.

Curated by El Museo’s chief curator, Rodrigo Moura, and guest curator Julieta González, the show spans several decades of Montañez Ortiz’s production, from the 1950s to the early 2020s, in different media such as film, painting, photography, video installations, documents, and assemblages. The exhibition is divided into four sections that delve into his artistic contributions to the 20th and 21st centuries: “Destruction,” “Decolonization and Guerrilla Tactics,” “Ethnoaesthetics,” and “Physio-Psycho-Alchemy.”

An important figure in US post-war art, Raphael Montañez Ortiz started making experimental film works in 1957. In the 1960s, he participated in the international Destruction Art movement, with performative actions that resulted in dynamic sculptures made from destroyed objects. His practice expands art historical references, from US Abstract Expressionism and Dada to identity references, and also touches on his upbringing in a Puerto Rican family in New York.

At the same time, Montañez Ortiz’s ongoing interest in psychoanalysis and anthropology informed his work, leading him to explore shamanic practices and the therapeutic and healing potential of art, paralleling his research into pre-Hispanic cultures. This constant concern runs through his early destruction pieces, like the Archaeological Finds series, to his later performative actions and works addressing the Indigenous cultures of the Americas.

To learn more and get tickets, visit elmuseo.org.

El Museo del Barrio is located at 1230 5th Avenue in New York City. Admission is pay-what-you-wish and the museum strongly recommends that all visitors reserve tickets in advance.

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