Juan Martínez, a passion for Art

/ 1 June, 2018

Juan Martínez’ preference for art began in 1978 when he started giving History of Art, Modern Art and Humanities lessons in the Miami-Dade Community College. Since then he has been a teacher until 2013. (…) His life as an essayist is divided between doing research on the Cuban modernist artists of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s on the one hand, and on the other the study of the painters who emerged in Miami in the 1980s. These two artistic phenomena have powerfully called his attention and he has dedicated articles, essays and books to assessing those periods of Cuban art, each one of them in their context, with intelligence, sensitivity and profound dedication.

(…) However, Professor Juan Martínez has a preference in particular for some precise artists of the Cuban historic avant-garde like Carlos Enríquez and Wifredo Lam. (…) “In Lam’s case I love his drawing, his elegant and at the same time cutting lines, the colors of his works when he returned to Cuba in the early 1940s; and later his blacks and whites, his inexhaustible imagination and his obsession with the image of the Eleggua. Lam is the poet of Afro-Cuban culture in art. As has been said, he was the one who inserted the Caribbean in the art of museums and galleries worldwide.”

Professor Juan Martínez has also stood out as a notable curator of expositions. He did the last display in the Vero Beach Art Museum, Florida, in 2013, titled Cuban Art and Identity: 1900-1950. There is no doubt that it was a relevant event for Cuban visual arts and because of its importance he had to tour higher ranking museums to culminate in the Havana Museum of Fine Arts. In it, the curator coherently and astutely established a discourse through themes worked by Cuban visual arts, by academic as well as modernist artists, in the first half of the 20th century which are the countryside, the Havana interiors, the religious traditions and the music and he established a fruitful dialogue between them. About this event Martínez comments with his proverbial naturalness: “The original idea was very simple, to make known that among the personal collectors and museums that exist in the United States there is a great treasure of Cuban modern art from the 1930s and ’40s. (…) I think the Havana National Museum has been very intelligent in incorporating some of these artists in its narrative of national art”.

(…) Juan Martínez was honored in 2013 as Professor Emeritus of Florida International University. He currently does not give lessons but his privileged mind is still active with new projects. His mind doesn’t stop producing new ideas on art. (…)

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