Enrique Martínez Celaya is an artist, author, and former scientist whose work has been exhibited and collected by major institutions worldwide. His monumental and multi-faceted body of work connects art to literature, philosophy, and science, and suggests the map of a territory shaped by self, meaning, time, memory, ideations of home, exile, myth, and identity. His practice presumes art should be not only a cultural pursuit but also an ethical effort that turns thinking into action and aims to understand better and be engaged with the world and ourselves.

He has realized major exhibitions, projects, interventions, and social and intellectual interactions not confined to museums and galleries, including the Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany; the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; the Cathedral Church of St. Jonh the Divine, New York; the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, Germany; SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida; and the Strandverket Konsthall, Marstrand Sweden, among many others. His work is held in over 50 public collections internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford.  

Martínez Celaya is the author of several books, including two volumes of his Collected Writings and Interviews, 2010-2017 and 1990-2010, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020 and 2011; The Nebraska Lectures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011; On Art and Mindfulness: Notes from the Anderson Ranch. Los Angeles: Whale & Star Press, 2016; October. Amsterdam: Cinubia Press, 2002. His work has been the subject of several monographic publications including Enrique Martínez Celaya and Käthe Kollwitz: Von den ersten und den letzten Dingen. Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2021; Martínez Celaya, Work and Documents 1990-2015. Santa Fe: Radius Books, 2016; Enrique Martínez Celaya: Small Paintings 1974-2015. Birmingham: Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, 2016; Enrique Martínez Celaya: Working Methods. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 2012; Enrique Martínez Celaya, 1992-2000. Köln: Wienand Verlag, 2002. 

Martínez Celaya holds the position of Provost Professor of Humanities and Arts at the University of Southern California. Previously, he held the academic posts of Roth Family Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College, Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, and Associate Professor at Pomona College and the Claremont Graduate University. He received a Doctor Honoris Causa from Otis College of Art and Design and delivered its 2020 commencement address. He is a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, a Fellow of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, a Fellow of Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and a Fellow of the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation. He is a Governor on the Board of Otis College of Art and Design, the artist advisor to the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where he was also the 2007 recipient of its National Artist Award, and a member of the International Advisory Council of the Hispanic Society of America. He created an advanced mentored study summer program at the Anderson Ranch that attracts artists from many countries. He has also offered lectures at venues worldwide, including the American Academy in Berlin, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Royal Drawing School, the Aspen Institute, and the University of Texas at the invitation of the University's Chancellor. 

In 1998, Martínez Celaya created Whale & Star as an evolving idea of social interaction and responsibility. It has an internationally recognized imprint that publishes books in art, poetry, art practice, and critical theory. Whale & Star also maintains a project of public lectures co-sponsored by the University of Southern California, hosts several working visits each year for poor and at-risk children, keeps a residency and intern program, and offers scholarships to artists. 

Martínez Celaya was born in Cuba and raised in Spain and Puerto Rico. He initiated his formal training as an apprentice to a painter at the age of 12 and developed what was to become an enduring interest in writing and philosophy in the turbulent Puerto Rican cultural and political environment of the 1970s. He received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics and a minor in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, and a Master of Science with a specialization in Quantum Electronics from the University of California, Berkeley. He conducted part of his graduate physics research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and while there, he painted the Long Island landscape. He holds several patents in laser devices and completed all his doctorate coursework and a significant part of his dissertation before deciding to devote more time to art. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and earned an MFA with the department's highest distinction from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was also a Regents Fellow and Junior Fellow of Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. 

 



* Other Writings by Enrique Martínez Celaya

Books

Collected Writings & Interviews: 2010 – 2017. (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 2020. Introduction by Klaus Ottmann, Foreword by Matthew Biro, Text by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 352 pages, 75 illustrations, Paperback.

On Art and Mindfulness: Notes from the Anderson Ranch. (Los Angeles, California: Whale and Star Press), 2015. Text and illustrations by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 112 pages, 3 black and white photographs, 5 illustrations, Hardcover.

The Nebraska Lectures: 2007 – 2010. (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 2010. Foreword by James B. Milliken, Text by Enrique Martínez Celaya. Signed, limited edition of 500, 68 pages, Hardcover.

Collected Writings & Interviews: 1990 – 2010. (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 2010. Introduction by Klaus Ottmann, Foreword by James B. Milliken, Text by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 272 pages, Paperback.

The Blog: Bad Time for Poetry. (Delray Beach, Florida: Whale & Star Press), 2009. Text by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 159 pages, Softcover.

The Return of the Storks. (Berlin, Germany: Akira Ikeda Gallery), 2008. Text in English and German by Lorie Karnath and illustrated by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 32 pages, 12 illustrations, Hardcover.

Guide. (Los Angeles, California: Whale & Star Press in collaboration with Griffin Editions and Mark Hasencamp), 2002. Text and photographs by Enrique Martínez Celaya. Volume I, the text, 140 pages. Volume II, a suite of 10 original black and white photographs. Signed, limited edition of 60, Hardcover volumes and slipcase.

October. (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Cinubia), 2001. Poetry and photographs by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 64 pages, 34 illustrations, Softcover.

Berlin. (Los Angeles, California: Stephen Cohen Gallery), 1999. Text by Stephen Cohen and Enrique Martínez Celaya. Poems by Enrique Martínez Celaya. 84 pages, 26 illustrations, Hardcover.


Essays & Statements

“Thank You for the Not-Art.” Beyond Kandinsky Symposium, sponsored by the School of Visual Arts (SVA), New York, New York, February 2011.

“Art and Museums.” Journal of Aesthetic Education, 41/2, Summer 2007: 17-21.

“Boy Raising His Arm.” Excerpt from a statement to curator Klaus Ottmann for the work, Boy Raising His Arm, for OPEN e v+a –a sense of place, March 30-June 24 in Limerick, Ireland, 2007.

“A Personal Note on Art and Compassion.” works + conversations, No. 14 (May 2007), 10 April 2007: 24-25.

“Introductions to Projects.” Martínez Celaya. Early Work (Delray Beach, Florida: Whale & Star Press), 2006.

“Shaping Language.” How I Learned English, ed. Tom Miller (Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2007) August 2006: 111-114; “Conformar un lenguaje,” Como Aprendí Inglés, ed. Tom Miller (Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2007) August 2006: 111-114.

“Schneebett.” Translated into German and published in a booklet for the presentation of Schneebett (2004), at the Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany, October 17, 2004-January 1, 2005, September 2004.

“Twelve Thoughts on the October Cycle.” Enrique Martínez Celaya: The October Cycle, 2000-2002. (Seattle, Washington: Marquand Books in association with Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska in Lincoln, 2003), 2003: 81-83.

“Preface.” Selections from Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal, with the original etchings by Odilon Redon. (Venice, California: Whale & Star Press, 2001), 7 December 2000: 1-2.

“Notes to Anne Trueblood Brodzky.” Unbroken Poetry: The Work of Enrique Martínez Celaya. (Venice, California: Whale & Star Press, 1999), 1999: 21; 25; 32; 41.

Greenstein, M.A. “Why Hegel.” Enrique Martínez Celaya: Berlin, The Fragility of Nearness. (Venice, California: William Griffin Editions), 1998: 73-80.

“A Manifesto.” Black Paintings: Poems and Visual Works. (Santa Barbara, California: University Art Museum), May 1994.


Selected Lectures

Santa Fe University of Art and Design, “The Pearl and the Total Work of Art.” Sponspored by SITE Santa Fe in conjunction with the exhibition, The Pearl, 1 October 2013, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

University of Michigan, “The Tower of Snow: A Story of Process.” Sponsored by the UM Department of Art and Art History, 29 March 2013, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Anderson Ranch Arts Center, "The Tower of Snow: A Story of Process." Lecture presented in conjunction with the Featured Artist Lecture Series, 5 July 2012, Aspen, Colorado.

New York Studio School. Lecture presented in conjunction with the Featured Artist Lecture Series, 6 March 2011, New York, New York.

University of California Santa Barbara, “On Worth.” Sponsored by the UCSB Department of Art, 19 April 2011, Santa Barbara, California. A later version was presented at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen, Colorado as part of the Featured Artists Lecture Series, 23 June 2011.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Art Museum. Lecture presented as part of Art Basel’s Official Annual Event, “Breakfast in the Park”, 5 December 2010, Miami, Florida.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lecture cosponsored by the Department of Art History and the Department of Painting and Drawing, 29 October 2010, Chicago, Illinois. An earlier version was presented at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York in conjunction with the exhibition The Wanderer: Foreign Landscapes of Enrique Martínez Celaya, 4 November 2010.

Sheldon Museum of Art, “On Painting.” Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment as Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, 21 April 2009, Lincoln, Nebraska. Published in Collected Writings and Interviews, 1990-2010: Enrique Martínez Celaya (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 2010: 240-247.

Joslyn Art Museum, “The Prophet.” Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment as Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, 2 October 2009, Omaha, Nebraska. Published in Collected Writings and Interviews, 1990-2010: Enrique Martínez Celaya (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 2010: 231-239.

University of Nebraska-Omaha, “Art & the University.” Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment as Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, 7 April 2009, Omaha, Nebraska.

Kaneko, “Systems, Time and Daybreak.” Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment as Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, 7 October 2008, Omaha, Nebraska.

Sheldon Museum of Art, “Art and Museums.” Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment as Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, 15 April 2008, Lincoln, Nebraska. Originally published as “The Parting of the Exemplary Museum,” works + conversations, 15 November, 2007: 34-35, 45; and as “Now What?” Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 41 No. 2, Summer 2007: 17-21.

Sheldon Museum of Art, “Photography as Grief.” Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment as Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska. An earlier version was presented at the Miami Art Museum, 8 December 2006, Miami, Florida. Published as “Photography as Grief (Fragments)” artUS, 24/25 (Fall/Winter 2008): 68-71. Also published in Collected Writings and Interviews, 1990-2010: Enrique Martínez Celaya (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 2010: 141-146.

UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, “Art and Compassion.” Lecture presented in conjunction with the traveling exhibition The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama, 2006. Published as “A Personal Note on Art and Compassion,” works + conversations, No. 14 (May 2007), 10 April 2007: 24-25.

Education Summit, Hope Center, “Idea Generation: Currency for the Knowledge Economy The Fuzzy Boundary: Science and Art.” 14 November 2005, Richmond, Virginia.

American Academy in Berlin, Berliner Philharmonie. Lecture co-sponsored by the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker, the Forum Zukunft Berlin, and the American Academy in Berlin, 19 October 2004, Berlin, Germany.

Aspen Institute, “Poetry and Process.” Lecture presented in conjunction with the exhibition Poetry in Process at the CU Art Museum, Boulder, Colorado, 2004, Aspen, Colorado.

New York University, “New Work.” 2002, New York, New York.

University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Artist Lecture. Lecture given in conjunction with Martínez Celaya’s appointment Distinguished Visiting Artist, September 2001, Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Orange County Museum of Art, 4 December 2001, Newport Beach, California. An earlier version was presented at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, 4 September 2001. Both lectures were given on the occasion of the traveling exhibition, Enrique Martínez Celaya: 1992-2000.