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Mi Puerto Rico at WAM

Post #902 • November 7, 2006, 12:52 PM • 12 Comments

Worcester, MA — Mi Puerto Rico: Master Painters of the Island, 1780-1952, currently up at the Worcester Museum of Art, showcases three Puerto Rican painters whom the island regards as luminaries. The Museo de Arte de Ponce, which Miamians may recall as the current institution of former Miami Art Museum curator Cheryl Hartup, put this together, and it makes the history of painting there come off as uneven but pleasant, and accomplished if not innovative.

It begins with a dour roomful of José Campeche, who stands up to competent late 18th Century contemporaries on the mainland. I confess to having little appetite for the whole genre, but their workmanship is laudable. Later, though, Puerto Rico proved an excellent place to practice Impressionism. Francisco Oller, seven years older than Monet, brought it back from his studies in Spain and France, and developed it to a high polish in impressive still lifes incorporating the local produce. Miguel Pou, a product of the Art Students League and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts circa 1900, shows thorough command of the concerns of the Ashcan school, and applied it to the depiction of local types. They don't compare well to, say, similar projects by Joaquin Sorolla, but technical authority and heartfelt sympathy drive them to successful conclusions. The handsome WAM installation includes bilingual wall copy in honor of the vibrant Latino community of central Massachusetts, although I remain unconvinced about the piped-in chirping of Coqui frogs, a campy addition that would better suit a science exhibit.

José Campeche y Jordán, Lady on Horseback (Dama a caballo), 1785, oil on wood panel, Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico

Francisco Oller y Cestero, Hacienda Aurora, 1898-99, oil on wood panel, Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico

Francisco Oller y Cestero, Guavas (Guayabas), ca. 1901-03, oil on wood panel, private collection

Miguel Pou y Becerra, Horse Drawn Carriages in Ponce (Los coches de Ponce), 1926, oil on canvas, Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico

Miguel Pou y Becerra, A Race of Dreamers - Portrait of Ciquí (Raza soñadora - Retrato de Ciquí), 1938, oil on canvas, Museo de Arte de Ponce

Miguel Pou y Becerra, My Son Jaime (Mi hijo Jaime), 1927, oil on canvas, Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico




November 7, 2006, 1:07 PM

The Oller pix look OK. The rest aren't that great. Becerra looks amateurish. My computer did not show me any paintings by Pou.



November 7, 2006, 1:10 PM

The whole name is Miguel Pou y Becerra, which you would shorten to Pou, not Becerra.



November 7, 2006, 1:51 PM

Right. I missed that.



November 7, 2006, 2:25 PM

Wonderful works ! Thanks for posting, Franklin.



November 7, 2006, 2:58 PM

yes, I also like the oller two.



November 7, 2006, 5:50 PM

Interesting. Never heard of these painters, but I guess that's one reason for the show outside of Puerto Rico. Oller is clearly the best of the three, though he's not especially Impressionistic based on these two images. Pou y Becerra is outdoor art fair stuff. The 18th century piece is hardly Gainsborough, but it's accomplished enough, considering.



November 7, 2006, 9:47 PM

Beautiful people, awesome food, and now paintings!



November 8, 2006, 9:25 AM

I have to agree with opie, the last two look a bit bland.

They lack (pardon the expression) "pizzaz."

Otherwise, very nice.



November 9, 2006, 1:00 AM

Agreed. Oller appears to be a competent painter. The rest look like student or amateur work.

The White Camel



November 9, 2006, 7:04 AM

the guy in the white shirt/blue pants looks realllllllllly bored bored as I feel looking at him...........



November 9, 2006, 9:54 AM

Those funny dog-drawn carriages of Ponce!



November 9, 2006, 10:51 AM

Agreed. Posted works by Campeche and Pou aren't dynamic, but I like something about the figure in "My Son Jaime." Too bad the background's so flat. Oller's "Guavas" is my favorite. Though, I agree, his posted works don't reveal an outrightly Impressionistic style. The brushstroke and background colors could be pushed further, but the guavas are well-rendered.



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