Maria Martinez-Cañas

What Remains

September 10 - October 24, 2015

Julie Saul Gallery is pleased to announce our sixth solo exhibition of Cuban-American Maria Martinez-Cañas, that will bring together two distinct and temporally disparate bodies of work: vintage photographic prints from the artist’s formative years in the early 1980s and new works on paper. Throughout her career, Martinez-Cañas has experimented with alternative processes and is known for exploring the subjects of identity, body, and nature. Presenting techniques that range from appropriation to photo collage, What Remains, aims to explore the dichotomy of presence and absence of the subject.

The exhibition will include several of the first prints she made working towards her BFA at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1982. Martinez-Cañas’s signature technique of constructing Rubylith negatives is first seen here in delicate whispers of the bold work that follows. Rubylith is a translucent red masking film that was used mainly by graphic designers before the digital era. Martinez-Cañas developed a complex process of assembling negatives using a mosaic of abstract forms and actual negatives. The Black Series (1980-81) and Fragment Pieces (1981-84) mark an experimental period that would later inform her large-scale Black Totems (1991-92). Although Martinez-Cañas has exhibited extensively over the last 35 years, most of the work included in What Remains has not been seen publicly.

In 2010 Martinez-Cañas spent a day at the De La Cruz Collection in Miami with the idea of creating a work based on the Felix Gonzales Torres’s sculpture Untitled (America #3), 1992. The artists’ lives had intersected over the years, first in 1985 when they exhibited side by side in Nueva Fotografia Puertorriqueña at the Museum of the University of Puerto Rico. Using 8 x 10” printing-out paper, which develops in natural light, Martinez-Cañas exposed sheets below each sculptural element, creating 36 impressions that form a unique memorial of her fellow Cuban-American artist and friend.

Most recently, in Vestígios, Martinez-Cañas deviates from photographic processes, using reproductions from books. She transforms the images into ghostly suggestions of figures by sanding and erasing the surfaces. What remains of the image are selected traces of its original subjects that resemble unfinished graphite sketches.

Martinez-Cañas lives in Miami where she is a tenured professor at the New World School of the Arts. She studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work is in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the New York Public Library, the Perez Art Museum, the George Eastman House, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and many others.

For more information contact Jacqueline Cruz, 212-627-2410 or

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