César Martínez, Laredo, Texas, b. 1944
San Antonio-based, César Martínez was born in 1944 in Laredo, Texas. A major figure in the Chicano Art Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s, Martínez’s portraits are icons of Texas art history. Deeply rooted in his native South Texas and its Mexican American culture, Martínez’s work also reflects a broad knowledge of the history of art in both Europe and the Americas.
“I’ve never really done art that I would say is political. But I think the kind of art that becomes politicized, as in my case and in many of my contemporaries, is simply because it had a Chicano perspective or Chicano imagery. The Chicano Movement was such an overpowering thing that I couldn’t help but become associated with it. The Chicano Movement was a renaissance in thinking about ourselves and in creating those institutions and images and writings that reflected who we are. They were non-existent at that time, we had nothing to relate to so we had to make it up as we went along. And we did. And that was the road to a deeper understanding of who we are.” – César Martínez
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Martínez’s work has been included in the landmark exhibits La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexican/U.S. Border Experience, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Centro Cultural de la Raza, San Diego; CARA: Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation 1965-1985, organized by the Smithsonian Institute; and Hispanic Art in the United States, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He was honored with a solo exhibtion, and accompanying book, at the McNay Art Museum San Antonio, Texas in 2009. He has also shown at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City; the San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio; and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.