Raphael Montañez Ortiz is an artist who refuses to limit his vision, or to constrain himself to certain mediums. To Raphael, the idea is the important thing: as he puts it in this State of the Arts profile from 2004, “As an artist, I am serious about being intelligent in my work.”

From his experimental films of the late 1950s, to his leading role in the Destruction Art movement of the 1960s, to his works reflecting on colonialism and Indigenous cultures of the Americas, Raphael has pushed the boundaries at every turn, and has continued making challenging and thoughtful art into the 2020s. He has in turn transmitted his rigorous and creative approach to artmaking to his students at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, where he has taught since 1972.

Now, El Museo del Barrio—the museum he founded in 1969—is pleased to present Raphael Montañez Ortiz: A Contextual Retrospective, the first large-scale exhibition since 1988 dedicated to the artist, activist, and educator. The retrospective opens April 14 and runs through September 11, 2022. In preparation for your visit, watch this story produced by Christopher Benincasa, and hear the artist himself reflect on his wide-ranging and intellectually curious work.