Rafael Montañez Ortiz, Artist in distribution, United States, 1934
Ortíz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1934. He lives and work in New York. He began his studies in architecture and then moved to the field of fine art. He received both his BFA and MFA from Pratt Institute. After earning his MFA in 1964, he continued his education at the Teachers College of Columbia University and earned a doctorate degree in Fine Arts and Fine Arts in Higher Education. Ortíz has been a Professor of Art at Rutgers University since 1972. He was also founder of El Museo Del Barrio in New York City in 1969, the first Latino art museum in the US.
Raphael Ortiz has created mixed-media ritual performances and installations for museums and galleries in Europe and Canada and throughout the United States, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and MOCA. Ortiz was a participating member of the Destruction In Art Symposium in London in 1966. His video Dance Number 22 won the Gran Prix at the 1993 Locarno International Video Festival of Switzerland. In October 2013, The Hirshhorn Museum hosted Ortiz as a panelist and featured performance artist at their International Performance Art Symposium, Damage Control.
Ortíz's work can be found in museum collections throughout Europe and the United States. In the late 1950s, he produced destroyed works in cinema, performance, and sculpture. Since the 1980s, Ortíz has also been interested in digital art. Much of his work is politically and socially engaged, addressing ritual, transcendence, and performance. He challenges notions of the spiritual nature of humans through artistic ritual. In particular, he is interested in indigenous cultural practices and incorporates them into performances that expose the process of deconstruction. His deconstructionist videos often appropriate and manipulate found footage images from Hollywood film.
His computer-laser-scratch video works are in numerous collections, including the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, the Smithsonian, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. His sculptures are included in many museum collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate, and the Whitney Museum of American Art; he has twice been featured in the Whitney Biennial.