Zilia Sánchez, Detail of Troyanas (Trojan Women), 1984. Acrylic on stretched canvas,
54 × 95 3/8× 11 1/4 in., Compañía de Turismo de Puerto Rico, San Juan.
Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island) 

On view November 20, 2019 – March 22, 2020
Organized by The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Curated by Dr. Vesela Sretenović, Phillips Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island)is the first museum retrospective of the prolific, innovative, and yet largely unknown artist Zilia Sánchez (b. 1926, Havana – lives and works in San Juan). The exhibition features over 40 works from the early 1950s to the present, including paintings, works on paper, shaped canvases, sculptural pieces, graphic illustrations, and ephemera. The retrospective traces Sánchez’s artistic journey from her early days in Cuba to her extended travels in Europe in the 1950s and residence in New York in the 1960s, and finally her move to Puerto Rico, where she has lived and worked since the early 1970s.

Learn more about Zilia’s artistic trajectory and full chronology > 

Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla is accompanied by a major publication and newly commissioned artist’s documentary about her life and practice.

The presentation of Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island) at El Museo del Barrio is supported by The Jacques & Natasha Gelman Foundation,  series  sponsor of  El  Museo del  Barrio’s Women ’s Retrospective  Series. With additional support from The Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection, and Galerie Lelong & Co.

Over the course of its fifty year history, El Museo del Barrio has published numerous exhibition catalogues and brochures in keeping with the institution’s commitment to education and the promotion of Latino arts and culture.  These publications are important scholarly resources that in many cases represent the first, and in some instances, the only existing references on particular artists and/or subjects. Featuring illustrations and texts by artists, scholars, museum professionals, and other experts, these publications reflect El Museo del Barrio’s rich exhibition history, as well as its long-standing role as a leader in the Latino cultural field. Full text digital reproductions of these historical publications are available for open access to the public via the links below.

This video was commissioned to accompany the exhibition. Conceived as a poetic, non-linear artist’s documentary, it presents the most recent interview with Zilia Sánchez. It was shot in the spring of 2018 in San Juan and produced by VideoArt Productions with director Martin Huberman and production assistant Edgar Romero. The original score is by pianist George X. Fu.

Special thanks to Beatriz Bolton and the Dosal Family Foundation for their generous support of the project and to Jeremy Ney and Vesela Sretenović for their contributions.

(Top L-R): Zilia Sánchez, Troyanas (Trojan Women), polyptych, from the series Módulos infinitos (Infinite Modules), 1967. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 71 3/4 × 54 × 9 1/2 in., Collection of Laura Delaney Taft and John Taft, promised gift to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Zilia Sánchez, Topología erótica (Erotic Topology), 1960–71. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 41 × 56 × 13 in., Collection of Jose R. Landron, San Juan; and Zilia Sánchez, Lunar (Moon), 1985. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 71 1/2 × 73 1/2 × 14 in., Collection of Ignacio J. López Beguiristain and Laura M. Guerra, San Juan.
(Bottom L-R): Zilia Sánchez, Lunar con tatuaje (Moon with Tattoo), c. 1968/96. Acrylic on stretched canvas, 71 x 72 x 12 in., Collection of theartist, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York; and Zilia Sánchez, Encuentrismo ofrenda o retorno (The Encounter–offering or returning), video of a performance, 2000, Berezdivin Collection, San Juan.