Rafael Ferrer, Puerto Rican (1933 - )

Rafael Ferrer (b. 1933 in San Juan) is a Puerto Rican artist.

Since an early age Ferrer traveled between Puerto Rico and the United States, studying from 14 to 18 years of age at Staunton Military Academy and then on to Syracuse University from 1951 to 1952. In 1953 he went back to Puerto Rico enrolling at the University of Puerto Rico, where he spent one year studying art with an exile of the Spanish Civil War, Eugenio Granell, a surrealist painter and writer. Through this teacher he met, in Europe, many of the surrealist group in Paris, including its "High Priest" Andre Breton. His most important early connection was a short friendship with the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, who gave and dedicated one of his drawings to the young Ferrer.

Since his years at Staunton, where he learned to play drums, he has been involved in the Afro-Cuban Music world. In the early 1950’s he moved to New York to work as a musician, was a professional percussionist until 1960, which became a means to support himself as he focused more on his work as an artist in his studio. Since the mid-1960s he has had exhibitions and given lectures and seminars across the US, Europe, and the Caribbean.

The mediums Ferrer has worked in include sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, and performance art. Ferrer taught at several universities: University of Pennsylvania, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, New York’s School of Visual Arts, The San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque

Ferrer's success began in the late 1960’s engaging first conceptual/process art. First involving actions, such as his 3 Leaf Pieces at Castelli Warehouse and then installations, which became progressively more narrative in tone, with complicated artifacts inferring voyages. These installations took place at prominent Museums such as MoMa, The Whitney in New York, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Museum Of Contemporary Art of Philadelphia and Chicago. In the 1980s his success came from paintings of his native Caribbean who's seemingly expressionistic style showed the tropic's under belly as well as the marvelous, the rough, the frightful and the beautiful. Ferrer’s sculpture Puerto Rican Sun was featured on Art in America March 1980 issue, fabricated out of steel and was erected in the South Bronx. The sculpture depicts once again, two sides of the Caribbean: the sun shining between two tropical palms and on the opposite side appears a blue moon and tress at night. He was also commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association to make a sculpture for the city of Philadelphia. He had fabricated and installed an aluminum cutout with figure and spelling out its title: "El Gran Teatro de la Luna" (since dismantled from Fairhill Sq.)

Living and working on the North Fork of Long Island since 1999, Ferrer once again has returned to his early influences where the visual world is used to spark the imagination. Along with paintings an a mutitude of works on paper, he made a large permenant installation, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico installed in La Parguera, on its southern coast. Comprising 5 bronze sculpture cast from wooden templates, they depict his homage to several dead artist's that he admires, titled the Rolling Museum. Ferrer will be having a major exhibition, "Retro-Active" at El Museo Del Barrio opening June 8, 2010.


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