Raul Martinez

Raúl Martínez, (1 November 1927 – 2 April 1995) was a Cuban painter from Cuba, designer, photographer, muralist, and graphic artist. He is best known for colorful pop-art portraits of leading Cuban political figures including José Martí and Camilo Cienfuegos. Martínez was born in Ciego de Ávila and studied in Havana and at the San Alejandro Academy in Havana, Cuba, and later at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His early works were abstract, moving towards figurative work later in his career. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Martínez helped the foundation of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), Casa de las Américas and the Cuban Book Institute, through his career as a freelance graphic artist. Raúl Martínez was a well-rounded designer, as he was successful in just about every art form he pursued: from the early abstract paintings to the later representative ones; from photography to college; from screen printing movie posters to freelance graphic design for government institutions such as the ICAIC. Originally a member of a group that called themselves Los Once (The Eleven), Martínez found success in all of his artistic endeavors until the end of his life in 1995. Martínez was born Publio Amable Raúl Martinez González in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba, on 1 November 1927, as the son of a sugar-mill worker and a teacher. Raúl Martínez studied at the Academy of Arts of San Alejandro, and later at the Institute of Design in Chicago, Illinois. During the 1950s he worked in the advertising agency OTPLA. Was the artistic director of the cultural magazine Lunes de Revolución. Sporadically designed film posters for ICAIC. During the 1960s was a professor of design in the School of Architecture of the University of Havana. His work has participated in collective and personal expositions and the biennials of Mexico; São Paulo, Brazil; Venice, Italy and in the Salon de Mai, Paris, France. His work has been rewarded on repeated occasions. He obtained the Silver Medal, Cuban Painting Exhibition, 1960; Medal of Bronze, International Exposition of the Art of the Book (WENT), Leipzig, Germany, 1965 and the National Prize of Plastic Arts, National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), 1995. The Council of State of the Republic of Cuba offered him the Distinction of National Culture, 1981; the Medal Alejo Carpentier, 1983 and the Order Félix Varela, 1988. Raúl Martínez had his first exhibition in 1947, in the XXIX Salón de Pintura y Escultura de Círculo de Bellas Artes. His earlier works were a typification of Cuban art of the time: the outcome of a play with expressionist and post-cubist devices, and has been described as "competent, stereotypical, and forgettable". The artist's more notable entrance into painting was in 1956, when he started his abstract-expressionist work, leaving the group Los Once to pursue more representational work, at which point he left behind any traces of the "stereotypical" aforementioned.

Raúl Martínez, ST, 1991, Serigraphy on paper, 19 x 27."

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