National Artist for Visual Arts Arturo Luz, 94, died on May 26, Wednesday evening, according to daughter Angela’s Facebook post.
A painter, sculptor, and designer for more than 40 years, Luz was the foremost figure in the modern neo-realist movement in Philippine art. He also served as a founding director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila from 1976 to 1986, and established the Luz Gallery. The National Commission on the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) says the gallery “professionalized the art gallery as an institution and set a prestigious influence over generations of Filipino artists.”
He was a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas Fine Arts program, the Art School of Brooklyn Museum in New York, and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. In 1997, he was named National Artist for Visual Arts for his significant contribution to the development of Philippine arts.
“Luz produced works that elevated Filipino aesthetic vision to new heights of sophisticated simplicity. By establishing the Luz Gallery that professionalized the art gallery as an institution and set a prestigious influence over generations of Filipino artists, Luz inspired and developed a Filipino artistic community that nurtures impeccable designs,” NCCA’s profile on Luz reads.
The National Artist’s works are a fixture in museums, galleries, private art collections, as well as various government structures and public spaces. To this day, you can walk around Metro Manila and be able to spot one of his unmistakable Modernist sculptures that add character to these spaces. Here are some of them.