Born in 1954 in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant working-class Puerto Rican parents, 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, his work has evolved to embrace photography, printmaking, and video installation. Lucy R. Lippard once wrote that Sánchez “teaches us new ways of seeing what surrounds us.”
Sánchez’ work has been exhibited in n major solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe and Africa and is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and El Museo del Barrio, all in New York City; The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; El Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and El Centro Wilfredo Lam in Havana, Cuba, among others.
Sánchez received grants 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. He is the recipient of the 2020 CUAA Augustus Saint Gauden’s Award for achievement in Art and a member of The Cooper Union Hall of Fame.