Passing of Professor Juan A. Martínez

Image: juan-martinez.jpg
Dr. Juan A. Martínez (center) at the 2018 edition of the award ceremony of the CINTAS Foundation in Miami, where he received a Lifetime Achievement Award, with Drs. Carol Damian, former Director of the Frost Art Museum (left) and Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuban Research Institute (right). Courtesy of the CINTAS Foundation.

We're saddened to share the news that Dr. Martínez, Professor Emeritus of Art History and CRI Faculty Affiliate, has died. He will be remembered for his numerous contributions to the study, preservation, and exhibition of Cuban and Cuban-American art, as well as for his teaching and service to the FIU community. Below is an email message sent by FIU Provost Dr. Kenneth G. Furton.

To: University Community
From: Kenneth G. Furton, Provost and Executive Vice President
Date: October 22, 2020

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Professor Emeritus of Art History, Juan A. Martínez. Dr. Martínez passed on the evening of October 11 at the age of 69. Juan Martínez was born September 2, 1951 in Jaruco, Cuba, a rural town east of Havana. He arrived in Miami in 1966 when he was 15 years old. Dr. Martínez first found his passion for teaching art while he was a student at Miami Dade College. He then went on to earn multiple graduate degrees and his Ph.D. in art history from Florida State University in 1991.

Dr. Martínez came to FIU in 1990 and for more than two decades, he helped carve out a future for the Department of Art + Art History in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, where he eventually served as chair from 2006 to 2011. In addition to teaching numerous courses, Dr. Martínez also helped create the foundation for scholarly work about Cuban art at FIU. In 1994, Martínez published Cuban Art & National Identity: The Vanguardia Painters 1927-1950, the first book to examine the art of the Vanguardia painters. He also authored Carlos Enríquez: The Painter of Cuban Ballads and María Brito, the latter of which won first place in the Best Arts Book category at the 11th Annual International Latino Book Awards in 2010.

He was a renowned scholar who brought Cuban art to the forefront of scholarship. His journey researching Cuban art history and his dedication to education transformed a generation of artists and scholars. Many of his students fondly remember him as the reason they fell in love with art and why they would go on to pursue it as a career. We remember and appreciate Dr. Martínez’s dedicated service to FIU and the lasting impact he has had on our community and on the field of Cuban studies. He is survived by his wife Patricia Wiesen; his son Ivan Martínez, daughter-in-law Christan Summer and their daughter; stepsons Dylan and Ian Terry; his daughter and son-in-law, Natalia and Manny Borges and their two daughters.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.