Art in all of its forms is very important in Puerto Rico: architecture, dance, music, writers, directors, singers, museums, etc. When you are here you can feel that, and there are lots of modern expressions of art, but I think it’s important to know where it all started.
One very important and famous Puerto Rican painter from the 18th century who is also known internationally is José Campeche. He was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he lived all of his life.
His father, also an artist who owned an art workshop, was his first influence. Years later, with the arrival of Luis Paret y Alcazar, a Spanish artist exiled from Spain, Campeche started to learn the European techniques as well as the ones his father had taught him. Campeche’s paintings are mostly historical and religious. Many of his works were done in churches. He was also a portrait painter and had may clients, like governors and well-known people from the island.
Campeche died in 1809. He is a source of pride for Puerto Ricans, since he is considered to be the father of Puerto Rican national painting.
Years later, in 1833, another very important painter was born. His name was Francisco Oller. He had developed an interest for the arts since he was very young, and beginning when he was 11 years old, he studied under the teachings of the artist Juan Cleto. Can you imagine studying art all day instead of going to a regular school?
When he was 18 years old he traveled to Europe to continue learning in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, a very important academy in Madrid. He became the first Puerto Rican artist to study in Europe. Pisarro, Monet, and Cezanne were his friends while he studied in Europe, and he had the opportunity to present his work with them in Paris. When he was 33 years old, he returned to Puerto Rico where he continued his work. His paintings show the reality of daily life in Puerto Rico. dns server . Since many artists before his time focused on religious scenes or portraits of wealthy people, painting about daily life was definitely a change, and actually kind of rebellious, I think.
Oller died in 1917. Two schools, one in Puerto Rico and the other one in the Bronx, NY, were named after him. I wonder what art in Puerto Rico would be like without these two guys’ influence!