Juan Sánchez

2022 Artist Award

Juan Sanchez, Strange and Bitter American History, 2005
Strange and Bitter American History, 2005, oil, mixed media collage on wood panel, 74 x 72 inches. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Juan Sanchez, Para Angel de Vieques, 2006
Para Angel de Vieques, 2006, oil, mixed media collage on wood panel, 74 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
JuanSanchez, Lindo Rayos Gamma, Lindo Colores, 2003
Lindo Rayos Gamma, Lindo Colores, 2003, oil, mixed media collage on wood panel, 74 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist.


Juan Sánchez was born in 1954, in Brooklyn, NY, to immigrant working-class Puerto Rican parents. An influential American visual artist working in a range of mediums, he is one of the most important Nuyorican cultural figures of the late 20th century. Maintaining an activist stance for over 45 years, he establishes his art as an arena of creative and political inquiry and reflection that encompasses the individual, family, the communities with which he engages, and the world at large. Sánchez has produced an extensive body of work that consistently addresses issues of race, class, cultural identity, equality, and self-determination.

Sánchez emerged as a central figure in a generation of artists using diverse media to explore social justice and identity beginning in the 1980s and ’90s. While Sánchez first gained recognition for his multi-layered mixed media collage paintings addressing issues of Puerto Rican identity and the struggle against colonialism, his more recent work embraces photography, printmaking, and video installation. Eminent writer and curator Lucy R. Lippard—with whom the artist collaborated on projects as a fellow political organizer and artistic interlocutor—once wrote that Sánchez “teaches us new ways of seeing what surrounds us.”

Sánchez has been awarded prestigious grants and fellowships including the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Pollock-Krasner Foundation, among others. He is the recipient of the 2020 CUAA Augustus Saint Gaulden Achievement in the Visual Art Award and is inducted into The Cooper Union Hall of Fame. In 2021, the United States Latinx Art Forum, New York City, in collaboration with the New York Foundation of the Arts and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation, awarded the artist the Latinx Artist Fellowship.

His work has been exhibited in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Major solo exhibitions include Juan Sánchez: ¿What’s The Meaning of This? Painting/Collage/Video, BRIC Arts / Media House, Brooklyn, NY; TRIPTYCH/TRIPTICO: RETRATOS/PORTRAITS at the Zoellner Arts Center Main Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA; Juan Sánchez: RicanStructions: Paintings of the 90’s, MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; 1898: Rican/Structions, Multilayered Impressions, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Juan Sánchez: Printed Convictions/Convicciones Grabadas, Jersey City Museum, NJ; and Juan Sánchez: Rican/Structed Convictions at EXIT ART, New York.

Groundbreaking group exhibitions in which Sánchez has taken part include Home—So Different, So Appealing, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; I, You, We: Activism in the 1980s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Multiplicity, Smithsonian American Art Museum Washington, DC; Think Print: Books to Billboards, 1980-95, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Sánchez’s art is represented in the permanent collections of El Centro Wilfredo Lam, Havana, Cuba; El Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico; El Museo del Barrio, Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art, all in New York City; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; among others.

Sánchez earned a BFA from The Cooper Union School of Art in 1977, and an MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers University in 1980. He is Professor of Art at Hunter College, The City University of New York.




OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA—The Artists’ Legacy Foundation today announced that Juan Sánchez (b. 1954)—the influential Nuyorican artist who explores ethnic, racial, and national identity in his multimedia work—is the recipient of its 2022 Artist Award. The $25,000 award is given to a visual artist whose primary medium is painting or sculpture in recognition of their professional achievements. Each year, ten artists are proposed for the Award by five anonymous nominators. Like the nominators, the jury of three comprises art-world peers who make the final decision.

Squeak Carnwath, the Foundation’s board president, said, “We are delighted to recognize the inimitable Juan Sánchez and his dynamic, politically engaged practice. His expansive body of work resonates today just as emphatically and passionately as when he began in the 1980s. His artistic investigations of his Brooklyn and Puerto Rican roots and reflections on the current moment are at once deeply personal and profoundly universal. We are grateful to our esteemed nominators and jurors and appreciate their service, expertise, and generous spirits.”

This year’s jurors were Derek Fordjour, interdisciplinary artist; Miguel Luciano, multimedia artist; and Monica Ramirez-Montagut, Director of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, NY. Fordjour said, “While this year’s selection pool was highly competitive, Juan Sánchez emerged as the absolute winner. For decades, he continues to produce deeply personal artwork that centers marginalized communities and has bolstered his studio practice with a stellar career as an educator and mentor to countless artists.”

Luciano said, “Juan Sánchez has achieved a legacy that’s inspired generations of artists through the sublime beauty of his paintings and prints, and his unwavering commitment to social justice and political liberation. He is an icon among Puerto Rican artists in the diaspora and one of the most important artists of our time.”

Ramirez-Montagut said, “It is a true privilege to be able to honor the legacy of Juan Sánchez and recognize his commitment and dedication to his practice, the arts, and our communities.  I hope this award conveys our admiration and appreciation for the integrity of his work as well as its excellence.”

The artist’s latest solo exhibition is on view at Hutchinson Modern and Contemporary gallery in New York City through November 4, providing a timely opportunity to experience his work.

Sánchez said, “It is so wonderful to realize that there are individuals out there who recognize, value, and name your work. I am deeply thankful, gratified, and humble to receive the 2022 Artists’ Legacy Foundation Artist Award. This is a critical acknowledgement that is deeply encouraging.”


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