Introducing Latinx Art: Carlos Osorio, Nitza Tufiño & More

Browse the Selection of Latinx Art in Our May 26 Sale
of Modern & Post-War Art

This season Swann is introducing Latinx Art as a featured category in our May 26 Modern & Post-War Art auction. Latinx and Chicanx artists are addressing political issues locally and globally; expressing themselves creatively in vocabulary from high and low culture; and are as diverse in creative output as any population of contemporary artists in America. To classify artists as Latinx, Chicanx, African American, etc. is to find commonality based on ethnic and racial background alone. Yet in doing so we bring focus to and celebrate artists who have been marginalized on these same terms:

“Efforts to market Latinx art and artists by whitewashing or linking them to more established categories such as ‘American’ art or Latin American art will continue to be of limited use unless we grapple with the continued racialization that makes Latinx creativity impossible to imagine.”
Arlene Dávila, Latinx art scholar and champion

The landscape for those that identify as Latino, Latina, or Latinx paints a mosaic that shows the diversity we have come to expect from America. Latinx artists are those artists of Latin American background (South American countries, as well as Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean), living primarily in the United States—they can be US born, lived in the US for an extended period of time, or just arrived, and their identity is not as much tied with the country of their heritage, but with being of Latin American descent in the US. The same holds true for Chicanx artists of Mexican backgrounds.

Olga Albizu

Stan Getz, getz/Gilberto, 1964. Cover art by Olga Albizu.

Contributions of Latinx artists have always been a part of our country’s creative expression, though seldom recognized or celebrated. Olga Albizu’s wonderful abstract expressionist oil paintings graced several of Stan Getz’s albums, including his 1964 Getz/Gilberto, which has sold over 625,000 copies. Most of us know this album cover, but I suspect few know the identity of the artist.

Puerto Rican artist Olga Albizu was born in 1924. She studied painting at the University of Puerto Rico under abstract expressionist Esteban Vicente. She is recognized in Puerto Rico as one of the island’s greatest abstract painters, though her highest selling price achieved at auction does not exceed $100,000.

Taller Boricua & Nitza Tufiño

At Auction May 26: Carlos Osorio, Untitled, pencil and watercolor, 1969. Estimate $1,500 to $2,500.

Chicanx and Lantix artists built upon the ideas of scholars from the past. A group of Puerto Rican artists including Rafael Tufiño, his daughter Nitza Tufiño, Marcos Dimas, and Carlos Osorio formed a print workshop in East Harlem, (el Barrio), New York in 1969. Taller Boricua is a haven for promoting arts and culture in the Puerto Rican community, and Nitza Tufiño continues to give back through education—she now runs the Rafael Tufiño Print Workshop at Taller Boricua. 

At Auction May 26: Nitza Tufiño, Untitled, acrylic and linoleum print adhered to plywood box. Estimate $3,000 to $5,000.

The linoleum cut used by Nitza Tufiño to adorn the box offered in our current auction (lot 152) is a study made for a commissioned pair of tile murals. These murals were created for the New York City Transit Authority subway station at 103rd Street and Lexington Avenue. The imagery is inspired by documented Taino Indian art discovered on stones and in caves of Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. The print and imagery were both repurposed by Tufiño to create an object with form and function in a contemporary setting.

Studies & Subway Murals by Nitza Tufiño: Left to right: Neo-Boriken, frame one of the mural at the 103rd Street subway station in NYC, 1990; Linoleumcut studies for Neo-Boriken; Neo-Boriken, frame two of the mural at the 103rd Street subway station in NYC, 1990.

Carmen Herrera

Carmen Herrera, Untitled (Black and Orange), 1956.

Carmen Herrera was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1915. In 1954 she settled permanently in New York City. Painting her entire life in a dynamic hard-edge abstract style, this gifted and wonderfully inventive artist went mostly unnoticed. In 1984 she received a one-person show at the Alternative Museum, NY. Herrera’s works began to sell in her eighty-ninth year when she was included in a group show at Frederico Sève Gallery/latincollector. She was able to see her works auctioned for values above the million-dollar mark in 2017, before her death in 2022. Herrera is one of the few Latinx artists to achieve sales at auction in this range.

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