Antonio Maldonado was a painter and graphic artist who belonged to the generation of the 1940s and 1950s. His work is of populist character and makes a statement regarding the Puerto Rican national identity.
Maldonado was born in Manatí on June 13, 1920 and took his first art lessons at his elementary school teacher’s house. He attended to school in his native town until the eighth grade. At the end of that school year, in 1936, his family moved to Puerta de Tierra, area adjoining Old San Juan.
Motivated by his aunt, Maldonado joined the Rosado Art Sign Shop, owned by artist Juan Antonio Rosado, who also served as his art teacher. There, he worked with other artists such as Lorenzo Homar, Carlos Raquel Rivera, and Rafael Tufiño. Then, he studied under the direction of Cristóbal Ruiz and Alejandro Sánchez Felipe. In 1947, he transferred to Mexico to study at the National School of Fine Arts, where he had contact with the school of Mexican social realism. Also that year, he joined the group of artists that work at the División de Educación de la Comunidad (DIVEDCO, Division of Community Education). Eventually, in 1963, he would take over as its director until it close down in 1986. Later, he worked in several workshops in San Juan.
In terms of his art work, he was mainly known for his watercolor and serigraphy; serigraphy was the preferred medium of artists at DIVEDCO. His posters tended toward social realism. Examples are: LaGuardarraya (Boundary line, 1960) and Cuando los padres olvidan (When parents forget, 1961). He is considered one of the most important watercolor painters in Puerto Rico, medium with which he had worked since he was very young. The style of his watercolor work usually presents Puerto Rican scenes and landscapes.
His work was exhibited locally at the Puerto Rico Atheneum and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and internationally at the Museo del Barrio and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as well as in galleries in Cuba, Moscow, and Mexico. In 1976, UNICEF selected some stamps he created as symbols of a Puerto Rican Christmas. He also prepared the posters for the World Chess Olympiad that took place in Dubai by the United Arab Emirates in 1986, as well as the one that took place in Greece in 1988. This latter one was done in collaboration with Rafael Tufiño and Luis Alonso.
In 1970, Maldonado was one of the San Juan natives —along with Rafaela Balladares and Ricardo Alegría, among others— who revived the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián (San Sebastian Street Festival). This celebration had taken place during the 1950s to raise funds for repairing various buildings. In addition, he created the commemorative poster for that celebration in 1970.
Antonio Maldonado died in 2006.
Portal Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
Redacción Vocero. ” Fallece pintor Antonio Maldonado”. Vocero, 26 de agosto de 2006: San Juan.
Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 03, 2014.
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