Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Visual Arts 2000

Rubén Ortiz Torres

Two drawings of Ruben Ortiz Torres (one in black and one in orange) are overlayed on a white background. The orange drawing is bigger and in the foreground and the black drawing is slightly smaller and to the left of the ornage drawing. The drawings overlap. In the orange drawing, Ruben Ortiz Torres is shown wearing a baseball cap, a t-shirt, a v-neck sweater, an unzipped jacket, and glasses. He is shown with short hair and a small beard. In the black drawing, Ruiben Ortiz Torres is shown wearing a button down shirt and the same glasses. However his hair is sleeker and he has no facial hair. In both images, he has a serene expression.
  • 2000 Grants to Artists
  • Visual Arts
  • Visual Artist
  • Born Mexico City, Mexico, 1964
  • Lives in Los Angeles, CA
  • Additional Information

The [Foundation's] grant enabled me to produce and develop different projects at different stages. The project I was able to complete and show from beginning to end and that was funded entirely with the grant was my new photo series entitled The Adoration of the Magi. It is the first time I was able to do photography on a large scale...

- Rubén Ortiz Torres, June 16, 2002

Artist Statement

Rubén Ortiz Torres explores the social and aesthetic transformations related to cross-cultural exchange and globalization. A plurality of parallel strategies spring from the various media he explores. His work is often centered around adaptation processes in specific and widely varied contexts and the subsequent transformations that they invoke—as signs and objects that constantly change their shape and meaning. The work of Ortiz Torres includes painting, photograph, video, collage, multimedia, and commercial products that range from baseball caps to pick-up trucks, all of which question the veneration of the art object and the degradation of folk culture and the vernacular.

- 2014


Rubén Ortiz Torres is an artist whose work spans a variety of mediums. Since the early 1980s, he has produced a wide-ranging body of work and is associated with the development of a specifically Mexican form of postmodernism. Ortiz Torres's 2000 Grants to Artists award supported the development of a body of work titled The Adoration of the Magi (2000)It is a series of photographs taken in Mexico City that depicts the extravagant photography booths set up in Mexico City's Alameda Park after Christmas. Street photographers compete to create the most baroque scenes for children to take photos with the Magi. Ortiz Torres is seen with his camera in many of the images.

He has participated in several international exhibitions and film festivals. His work is now in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Artpace, San Antonio; California Museum of Photography, Riverside; and Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City.

Prior to receiving his 2000 FCPA grant, Ortiz Torres moved to Los Angeles in 1990 on a Fulbright Foundation Scholarship. He had also received grants from the U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture (1993), the Banff Center for the Arts (1995), the Andrea Frank Foundation (1997), and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (1999).

Ortiz Torres studied architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design and art at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. He received his M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts in 1992. He has been on permanent faculty in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California San Diego since 2001.

There is a neon green walled crowded space filled with toys and stuffed animals. The windows in the green wall are rounded-rectangle shaped windows and sparkly green trim. In the center of the green wall, there is a golden triangle that is covered in sparkly decorations. Under this triangle, a person wearing a plush joker hat and an elaborate cape holds the shoulders of a child beside them. The child wears a white fancy dress over fushia long sleeves, a tiara, and face paint. To the right of the child, a person wearing a white shirt holds a gold framed image. The image within the frame is brightly colored but blurred.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
There is a densely crowded space filled with plush toys, sparkly decorations, and neon lights. The ceiling of this space is curved and colored with thick colorful stripes. The back wall of this space is covered in multi colored ribbons. In the center of the space, a person wearing a purple outfit with sparkles on it and a crown holds a camera to their face, obscuring it. Behind them, another person holds a mirror with a gold frame that seems to reflect a person taking a flash photograph.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
Several people crowd in a street at twilight. In the background, there is a whimsical structure made of multi colored fabric. A person in the center of the crowd holds up a gold framed image of a child in face paint next to a small green tower.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
There is a play castle within a dark space. The steeples of the castle are covered in rainbow stripes and bright lights. In the middle of this castle, large plastic toys are arranged. There is an elephant, gnomes, and a camel along with numerous other smaller toys. Behind these toys, four people stand. Three of these people wear play royalty costumes in fushia and purple. A fourth person stands and holds a gold framed image of someone taking a photograph in a crowd.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
In the middle of a city street, there is a cluster of people. The one of the right wears a red jacket and holds up a camera to their eye. The person on the left covers their face with an oval gold framed image of people in play royalty costumes in front of mountains and surrounded by toys and a person taking a photograph.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
A photograph is surrounded by yellow paper. In the photograph, people in play royal clothing stand in front of a whimsical yellow castle and surrounded by toys. They hold up a mirror. One person on the far left holds up a camera.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
A photograph is surrounded by a green background. A large plastic elephant is in the middle of the photograph. It is surrounded by neon lights and other toys. The ground is dark red.
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.
A calendar is shown. The bottom is filled with blue grids showing the months and days. The top half is a photo collage. Around the borders of this collage, there are drawn, cartoon images of candles, santa claus, and men on camels. The image on the top middle says
FCPA-supported photo series The Adoration of the Magi, 2000.