Carlos Villa

A native San Franciscan, Carlos Villa (1936-2013) was an artist and educator whose legacy was immeasurable. His works from the 1970s and 80s deftly reject the ethnographic terms historically ascribed to non-Western art. Combining repetitive action, performance, and activism, his abstract assemblages are visually dramatic expressions of Filipino-American identity.

For nearly fifty years Carlos Villa has explored the meaning of cultural diversity in his art and in doing so has expanded our awareness of what we consider as “multicultural.” What began in his early career as an attempt to understand his own heritage--a complexity of Filipino traditions with its layered strains of Asian, African, Indian and Oceanic cultures, along with influences of a Western artistic tradition--became over time an exercise in creating his own visual anthropology to represent his personal background, and, in a broader sense, the dynamics of intercultural weaving.

  • Preston Fletcher

Villa’s work is in the permanent collections of SFMOMA, Oakland Museum of California, Columbia University, the Smithsonian, and the Whitney Museum, among many other public and private collections. His work was recently featured in the 2019-2020 Singapore Biennale, and will be included in the next Prospect Biennale in New Orleans. Villa has been included in important exhibitions and surveys such as the first Whitney Biennial (1973), ‘Painting and Sculpture in the Modern Era’ (1976), ‘Under the Black Sun: California Art 1974–1981’ (2012) and the Bienal de la Habana (1991). In August 2021, VIlla’s work will be the subject of a major retrospective. The traveling exhibition is organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. The catalog will feature essays by renowned scholars including Lucy Lippard, Margo Machida, Paul Karlstrom, Theo Gonzalves, Luis Francia, Patrick Flores, and Jay Xu; and is funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.