Antonio Martorell awarded National Medal of Arts

Princeton University Library is proud to have among its Special Collections several magnificent portfolios by the Puerto Rican printmaker, painter, installation artist, and writer Antonio Martorell, one of the 12 recipients of the 2021 National Medals of Arts awarded by President Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

English translation of social media post by Martorell after receiving the award.

The first Martorell portfolio acquired by the library was Salmos, a set of 17 woodcuts by the artist with handwritten texts by the Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal printed in 1971. Spanish language readers can access here an excellent essay by the renowned art critic Marta Traba about this work. 

Photo of Salmos, 1971. Graphic Arts Collection. Catalog record.

During a visit to Princeton in 2013, Antonio Martorell presented the first copy of Las Antillas Letradas to a group of students enrolled in a memorable seminar by Professor Emeritus Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones on islands and archipelagos in history and the arts. The library acquired the completed portfolio soon after the artist’s visit with the support of the Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS).

Its 27 prints, installed in alphabetical order to create a massive map of the Antilles with portraits and texts of prominent intellectuals from the region, were featured during Welcome Additions: Selected Acquisitions 2012-18, the inaugural exhibition in Firestone Library’s Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery.

Las Antillas Letradas. 2014. Copy 1. Graphic Arts Collection. Catalog record.

Loas, the portfolio by Martorell most recently acquired by the library, is based on a text on Afro-Caribbean deities and rituals by Antonio Díaz-Royo. Its pliegos (or sheets) accompanied Atibón Ogú, Erzulí, a 1979 choreodrama by the Puerto Rican mime company Taller de Histriones with set designs, costumes, and body art by Martorell.

Erzulí. Pliego 12. Loas, 1979. Graphic Arts Collection. Catalog record.

The following portfolios by Martorell are also available at Princeton:

Oda a la lagartija. (1973)
Catalog record | Archivo Virtual Antonio Martorell

Imalabra: exposición retrospectiva Antonio Martorell y sus amigos en La Habana, Ciudad de México, Madrid, Santo Domingo y San Juan. (2014)
Catalog record

Ofrenda puertorriqueña al cine mexicano en blanco y negro de Santa a Roma. (2019)
Catalog record | Archivo Virtual Antonio Martorell

Pliego 8. Oda a la lagartija. Graphic Arts Collection.

* Photo of the artist taken from from El Nuevo Día Archivo.