Remembering Rafael Tufino, 1922 - 2008
Rafael Tufino is one of the central figures in the history of 20th Century Puerto Rican art. A versatile artist in many media, Tufino has been a major force in founding and furthering modern Puerto Rican art–both on the Island and in the Caribbean Diaspora.
Tufino’s work spanned a period of more than 65 years, depicting Puerto Rican life in urban New York, and pre-industrial Puerto Rico. While the artist’s work often celebrates popular traditions, including folk artists, religious and secular festivals, Tufino remains committed to fostering the appreciation of the Island’s African cultural contributions, especially as expressed in dance and music. Tufino’s images have become a trademark of Puerto Rico’s rich cultural heritage.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tufino moved permanently to Puerto Rico with his Puerto Rican parents in 1936, initially studying under the Spanish painter Alejandro Sánchez Felipe and with Juan Rosado at his sign-painting workshop in San Juan. In the late 1940s he studied painting, printmaking and mural painting at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico with José Chavez Morado, Antonio Rodríguez Luna and Castro Pacheco. He joined the staff of the Division of Community Education in Puerto Rico as a poster artist and illustrator in 1950, serving as director of the graphic arts workshop of this division from 1957 until 1963. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966 and the National Award for the Arts in 1985. He had two major retrospectives at El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and El Museo del Barrio in New York, in 2002 and 2003, respectively. PRdream has an extensive interview with the artist in its archives, interview clips may be viewed along with his work in LA GALERIA of the www.prdream.com website.
Note: This article was originally published at www.prdream.com. PRdream is based in NYC's El Barrio.