A new governmental focus has given Puerto Rican sculpture greater importance as public art, while at the same time pushing artists to face new challenges. Public art, because of its size and location, demands that sculptors take these parameters into consideration from the beginning of their conception of their work. It is important not to confuse large-format sculpture with sculpture for public sites.

The relationship of the work with the average citizen plays a role, in a way that the pedestrian, driver or surrounding buildings cannot be overlooked. A good urban sculpture is one that is planned so that it interacts harmoniously with the architectural spaces where it is placed and also shows the existence of communication between the sculptor and the architect. Public art, because of its permanence, contributes to the human experience without visually polluting the environment.

In the past in Puerto Rico, the monuments and other commissioned works were restricted to famous artists and teachers. Now, for the first time, young sculptors have been given the opportunity to develop public works. Still, in Puerto Rico, there are fewer sculptors than painters. This scarcity is due to the lack of specialized workshops with the available space, the cost of materials, the difficulty of transportation, etc. Most sculptors cannot make a living exclusively from their art, with the exception of public art commissions.

Sculpture today is characterized by aesthetic proposals of greater conceptualization, more than the use and manipulation of traditional materials, known as the noble materials. Unquestionably, the cause is the economic factor and has repercussions in the ephemeral nature of the works.

It has been shown that sculpture sells less in Puerto Rico than paintings. Galleries present more paintings than sculpture, mainly because of the demand from collectors and interior designers, who prefer to use paintings in their decorations, mainly for reasons of space. This is despite the fact that we are seeing greater innovation and interdisciplinary trends in Puerto Rican sculpture.

In quality, theme and execution, contemporary Puerto Rican sculpture compares favorably with current international trends. However, there is no significant presence abroad. The lack of Puerto Rican curators working internationally means Puerto Rican artists are unknown in other countries.Puerto Rico has several displays of sculpture, such as, for example, sculpture gardens and installations. The installations are a contemporary display in which diverse artistic expressions coexist. Their origin dates to 1917 with Marcel Duchamp. It is a universal phenomenon and represents the true globalization of art. Antonio Martorell is one of the artists who have worked on installations in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has sculpture gardens on the main campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, in Mayagüez, Utuado and the Botanical Garden in Río Piedras, as well as those found at the Sacred Heart University and the Puerto Rico Museum of Art.

Author: Adlin Ríos Rigau
Published: September 04, 2015.

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