Born to working-class Puerto Rican immigrants in Brooklyn, NY, Juan Sánchez is an influential American visual artist, and one of the most important Nuyorican cultural figures of the latter 20th century. Maintaining an activist stance for over forty-five years, his art is an arena of creative and political inquiry 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 that are as relevant now as they were in the 1980s – race and class, cultural identity, equality, social justice, and self-determination. He emerged as a central figure in a generation of artists using diverse media to explore ethnic, racial, national identity and social justice in 1980s and ’90s.
While Sánchez first gained recognition for his large multi-layered mixed media collage paintings addressing issues of Puerto Rican identity and the struggle against U.S. colonialism, his work has evolved to embrace photography, printmaking, and video. Sánchez exhibited and lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America. His art is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, El Museo del Barrio, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of American Art, The National Museum of African American History & Culture and The National Portrait Gallery and the Mead Museum of Art.
The US Latinx Art Forum (USLAF) in collaboration with the New York Foundation for the Arts and supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation, awarded Juan Sánchez the Latinx Artist Fellowship. He was the recipient of the 2020 CUAA Augustus Saint–Gaudens Achievement in the Visual Art Award and was inducted into The Cooper Union Hall of Fame. Sánchez received other awards and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.