From Trash to Treasure: Honoring Carlos Irizarry

Posted on June 29, 2017 by Alison Pierz

The socio-politically charged image below is a version of a significant painting by Carlos Irizarry in the collection of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico called, “The transculturation of the Puerto Rican”. One happy collector actually stumbled upon this signed and numbered print accidentally in the trash! NYC has the most amazing street finds! They brought the piece to Frames and Stretchers and we gave this important work of art the treatment it deserved, framing the print with a stained walnut moulding, spacers and museum glass.

Carlos Irizarry "The transculturation of the Puerto Rican" screen printCarlos Irizarry's "The transculturation of the Puerto Rican" framed in our studio

Born in Puerto Rico in 1938, Carlos Irizarry was an important graphic and fine artist throughout his career until is recent death in 2017. He emigrated to New York in the late 1940’s and worked commercially as a designer and painter before returning to Puerto Rico in 1968. Upon his return he co-founded the National Center for the Arts in San Juan.

The painted version of "The transculturation of the Puerto Rican" in the collection of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

Irizarry’s work often involved critique of local and international social and political situations. He was in fact, arrested in the States for a politically subversive art gesture in 1976. An innovator in graphic techniques, he was the first Puerto Rican artist of note to work in the photo-silkscreen process. This work appears to be an example of that technique. “Transculturation” is a term coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in 1947 to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging cultures. Created in 1975, “The transculturation of the Puerto Rican” is an illustrated depiction of a local agrarian figure trans-mutating into something else; skeletal or perhaps technological? Certainly far removed from his pastoral origins. It's a prime example of the artist's oeuvre. 

Carlos Irizarry Puerto Rican artist
Artist Carlos Irizarry who died earlier this month in Puerto Rico

Irizarry was a master who will be missed. We were so fortunate to get to preserve a piece of this exceptional artist's work. 

Posted in #"The transculturation of the Puerto Rican", #Carlos Irizarry, #Puerto Rican artist, #Screen print