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January 31, 2011 - April 1, 2011
Emilio Sanchez was born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1921. He began his artistic training at the Art Students League in 1944 when he moved to New York City where he lived until he died in 1999. However, it was in Cuba that he became fascinated with the play of light and shadow on colored forms that became a dominant characteristic of his works. His early works of the 1950s are stylized and figurative depicting themes such as portraits of friends and models, views of New York and tropical landscapes.
In the 1960s his works became significantly more abstract, though always maintaining a strong sense of naturalism. It is during this decade that his work matured into an individual vision and when he began to develop his well-known paintings of houses and architectural themes. These architectural works stand out for their simplified forms where all superfluous details are eliminated. Stripped down to their essence these structures acquire universal meaning. Here he captured the effect of light on color making it vibrant. Despite the fact that his buildings are often devoid of visible inhabitants, they hold a strong living presence of their own.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he further explored architectural themes by traveling to countries around the Mediterranean. For example in Morocco he was impressed by the stark white vernacular buildings. He also produced streamlined geometric views of New York skyscrapers. These architectural works probably come closest to the works of Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Sheeler in their abstracted stillness of the built environment.
Sanchez’ art is well represented in private and public collections including over thirty museums like New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has also received prestigious awards as first prize at the 1974 Biennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico.