20 Jay Street, M10E
Juan Sánchez is an influential American artist, and one of the most important Nuyorican cultural figures of the latter 20th century. Maintaining an activist stance for over 35 years, he continues to align himself with populist concerns, rather than those of the art world elite. Born in 1954 in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant working-class Puerto Rican parents, Sánchez earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Cooper Union School of Art in 1977, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers University in 1980. Always a politically committed artist, Sánchez was inspired early on by the political teachings of the Pedro Albizu Campos, Malcolm X, Young Lords and the Black Panther Party.
Sánchez emerged as a central figure in a generation of artists using diverse media to explore ethnic, racial, and national identity in 1980s and '90s. Among his contemporaries are Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Pepón Osorio and Papo Colo. While Sánchez first gained recognition for his brightly hued mixed-media paintings addressing issues of Puerto Rican life, both in the United States and on the island, his work has evolved to embrace other media, including printmaking, photography and video installation. Lucy Lippard once wrote that Sánchez "teaches us new ways of seeing what surrounds us."
Sánchez has been awarded several grants and fellowships, a selection of which include the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been exhibited widely at venues in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Africa. Major solo exhibitions include TRIPTYCH/TRIPTICO: RETRATOS/PORTRAITS at the Zoellner Arts Center Main Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA; Juan Sánchez: RicanStructions: Paintings of the 90’s, MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; 1898: Rican/Struction, Multilayered Impressions, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Juan Sánchez: Printed Convictions/Convicciones Grabadas, Jersey City Museum, NJ; and Juan Sánchez: Rican/Structed Convictions at EXIT ART, New York.
Major groundbreaking group exhibitions in which Sánchez has taken part include Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; I, You, We: Activism in the 1980s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Multiplicity, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; On Being Human, Whitney Museum of American Art; Think Print: Books to Billboards, 1980-95, Museum of Modern Art, New York; American Voices: Latino Photographers in the United States, FotoFest, Houston and the Smithsonian Institution; and Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century, originating at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and traveling to Estación Plaza de Armas, Sevilla, Spain; Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Hôtel des Arts, Paris, France; and Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany.
Works by Sánchez are held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, and El Museo del Barrio, all in New York City; El Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico; and El Centro Wilfredo Lam in Havana, Cuba, among others.
Juan Sánchez is the recipient of the CUAA 2020 Augustus Saint-Gaudens Alumni Award for Achievement in the Fine Arts and is also inducted in the Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame.
Juan Sánchez is a Professor of Art at Hunter College, City University of New York.
From the studio
I've been very fortunate to have a studio in DUMBO since 1991. After twenty-six years I was among many artists who was kicked out of DUMBO because of extreme rent heights.
Thanks to Two Trees Cultural Space Subsidy Program, I was able to return to DUMBO and continue my studio practice and move forward with my career. DUMBO's Open Studio has been very fruitful.
The pandemic, racism and other social ills has made life more difficult and challenging. I am more committed to the necessity of art. Its that human dialogue I want to continue to engage through art.