Emilio Sanchez was born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1921. In 1944, he began his artistic training at the Art Students League in New York, where he lived until he died in 1999. However, it was in Cuba that he became fascinated with the play of light and shadow on colored forms, which became a dominant characteristic of his works. His early works of the 1950s are stylized and figurative, depicting themes such as portraits of friends and models, views of New York, and tropical landscapes.
In the 1960s, his works became significantly more abstract, though always maintaining a strong sense of naturalism. It is during this decade that his work matured and he began to develop his well-known paintings of houses and architectural themes. These architectural works stand out for their simplified forms and colors. Stripped down to interlocking blocks of color, these structures acquire universal meaning. With ease, he seemed to capture the effect of light on color, making it vibrant and visually clear. Despite the fact that his buildings are often devoid of visible inhabitants, they hold a strong living presence of their own.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he further explored architectural themes by traveling to countries around the Mediterranean. His travel experiences found their way into his art. For example, in Morocco he was impressed by the stark white vernacular buildings. His prints from this time use white buildings as a beautiful contrast to small pops of color or little details- he would emphasize the panes in a window or brightly colored awning.
He also printed architectural scenes of New York during the 70s and 80s. These prints exhibit a rare stillness, especially compared to scenes of this bustling metropolis by his artistic contemporaries.
In addition to his architectural works, Sanchez explored a variety of themes selected for their strong compositional value- such as still lifes of fruits and flowers, sailboats, clotheslines and sunsets over the Hudson River. Different from his linear renderings of buildings, these other works demonstrate his versatility in painting looser, amorphous forms. In the 1990s, Sanchez’s attention focused more on New York urban scenes of storefronts, garages and skyscrapers.An artist with an independent voice and international acclaim, Sanchez has had over sixty solo exhibitions and has been included in numerous group shows in museums and galleries in the United States, Latin America and Europe. His art is well represented in private and public collections, including over thirty museums like the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has also received prestigious awards as first prize at the 1974 Biennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico. *Biographical information from the Emilio Sanchez Foundation