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American Paintings - 1980-present

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Sleepless

1996
20th century
190.6 cm x 244.5 cm x 28.6 cm (75 1/16 in. x 96 1/4 in. x 11 1/4 in.)

Luis Cruz Azaceta (Havana, Cuba, 1942 - ) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Cuban
Medium and Support: Charcoal, acrylic, gesso, metal studs, photographs, coins and shellac on plywood
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1997
Accession Number: 1997.46

Luis Cruz Azaceta's works explore what poet/critic John Yau calls "the frailty of human existence amidst a world full of social anarchy, historically mandated violence, and natural chaos." In a profoundly moving body of work spanning more than twenty-five years, Azaceta has described his personal fears and anxieties. Like many expressionists, he has created much of his imagerywithin the framework of self-portraiture, but never simply to tell his own tale. Convinced that art should try to educate and provoke change, he pushes his audience toward empathy and self-recognition. At the same time, his unfailingly dynamic and inventive use of materials and sense of composition push the technical and aesthetic boundaries of painting as a discipline. Sleepless provides a bridge to the Collection's strong urban scene paintings of the 1930s by Philip Evergood and Reginald Marsh, and especially to the painting Transients by Raphael Soyer. Both Azaceta and Soyer literally put themselves ‘in the picture’ (Soyer’s self-portrait yawns toward the rear of the room); their identification with these men who are without work or shelter challenges viewers to look beyond the numbing repetition of daily news headlines to the totally personal, dehumanizing effects of societal indifference.

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