Rafael Tufiño died in 1988 but his legacy lives on.
Rafael Tufiño, Artist, Is Dead at 85Rafael Tufiño, a painter and printmaker considered one of Puerto Rico’s most prominent cultural figures, died on Thursday in San Juan. He was 85 and lived in Old San Juan.
The cause was lung cancer, said Augusto Font, a friend.
An artist known as the “Painter of the People” for his canvases and posters depicting traditional aspects of life on the island, Mr. Tufiño will lie in state in the Galería Nacional del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña in San Juan before burial later this week. Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá, the governor of Puerto Rico, ordered flags to be flown at half-staff over the weekend in his honor.
Mr. Tufiño, who was born in Brooklyn and frequently returned to the city, was an important presence in New York, where he was a mentor to Puerto Rican artists and served as a bridge to Puerto Rico’s traditions and aesthetics.
He was a founder of Taller Boricua, a workshop and art collective started in East Harlem in 1970, and was also influential in the establishment of El Museo del Barrio in that neighborhood. His work was the subject of a major retrospective at the museum in 2003.
Mr. Tufiño’s art, which can be seen on posters throughout Old San Juan, presents scenes of daily life in Puerto Rico — work, dance, music and festivals — in bright, Fauvist colors. His paintings, including landscapes, interiors and portraits, are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress and the Galería Nacional in Puerto Rico.
In 2003, he was given a lifetime achievement award by the National Arts Club in New York City.
Born Rafael Tufiño Figueroa in 1922, he became interested in Puerto Rican traditions as a child in Brooklyn, where he often heard stories of life on the island from his mother and father.
When, at 10, he moved to San Juan to live with his grandmother, his drew pictures of nearly everything he saw.
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