Artsy Reviews Edel Rodríguez


The Artsy editors recently presented “The 25 People Who Defined Visual Culture This Year,” including artists such as Arthur Jafa, Jenny Holtzer, David Hockney, Barkley M. Hendricks, Tali Gumbiner and Lizzie Wilson; collectors such as Yusaku Maezawa and Agnes Gund; and many more who influenced visual culture in different ways. Among these is Edel Rodríguez, the Cuban artist and New York City’s School of Visual Arts (SVA) faculty member who illustrated some of “the year’s most powerful and incendiary magazine covers.” Artsy writes:

Political cartoons depicting the current U.S. president and his administration’s policies have been produced in droves this year—but few have cut as deep, and been shared as widely, as those by Rodriguez. The illustrator’s graphic depictions of President Trump began their viral ascent when news magazines like Time and Der Spiegel commissioned him to illustrate covers commenting on the U.S. presidential race last year. One, released by the German weekly just after the U.S. election took place, showed an orange comet resembling Trump. It hurtled towards earth, mouth gaping—ready to devour the planet in a single bite.

A string of additional covers and protest posters from Rodriguez have followed. His most controversial went to the presses on February 4th, just after the president issued his initial executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. Plastered on the front of Der Spiegel, it showed Trump holding a blood-stained knife in one hand and the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty in the other.


The issue was personal for Rodriguez, a Cuban immigrant whose family came to the U.S. in 1980 seeking refuge from Fidel Castro’s totalitarian regime. His anger came through with caustic power in the illustration, and it quickly gained resonance across national borders and language barriers. Since then, he’s worked other further covers that criticize white nationalism, warmongering, and other timely political and social issues. Recently, he also produced a series of New York City subway posters, commissioned by the School of Visual Arts (where he’s also a faculty member), that aim to inspire activism and support free speech. In bold reds, blues, and yellows, they remind NYC commuters to “Wake Up!”, “Speak Up!”, and “Rise Up!” [. . .]

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