Ana Mendieta

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Ana Mendieta : biography

18 November 1948 – 08 September 1985

Ana Mendieta (18 November 1948 – 8 September 1985) was a Cuban American performance artist, sculptor, painter and video artist who is best known for her "earth-body" art work.


Mendieta attended the University of Iowa where she earned a BA, an MA in Painting and an MFA in Intermedia under the instruction of acclaimed artist Hans Breder. Through the course of her career, she created work in Cuba, Mexico, Italy, and the United States.

Art market

Ana Mendieta’s estate is managed by the Galerie Lelong in New York City. The estate is also represented by Alison Jacques Gallery, London.


Mendieta’s work features in many major public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva, and Tate Collection, London. Alison Jacques Gallery, London.

Early life and exile

Mendieta was born in Havana, Cuba to a family prominent in the country’s politics and society.Leslie Camhi (June 20, 2004), New York Times. At age 12, in order to escape Fidel Castro’s regime, Ana and her 14-year-old sister Raquelin were sent to the United States by their parents. Through Operation Peter Pan, a collaborative program run by the U.S. Government and the Catholic Charities, Mendieta and her sister spent their first weeks in refugee camps before moving to several institutions and foster homes in Iowa. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In 1966, Mendieta was reunited with her mother and younger brother; her father joined them in 1979, having spent 18 years in a Cuban political prison for his involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.


In 1979 Mendieta presented a solo exhibition of her photographs at A.I.R. Gallery in New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York hosted Mendieta’s first survey exhibition in 1987. Since her death, Mendieta has been recognized with international solo museum retrospectives such as "Ana Mendieta", Art Institute of Chicago (2011); "Ana Mendieta in Context: Public and Private Work", De La Cruz Collection, Miami (2012). Alison Jacques Gallery, London. In 2004 the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., organized "Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance", a major retrospective that travelled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, and Miami Art Museum, Florida (2004). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.


In 2009 Mendieta was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cintas Foundation. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Life and Work

Mendieta’s work was generally autobiographical and focused on themes including feminism, violence, life, death, place and belonging. Mendieta often focused on a spiritual and physical connection with the Earth, most particularly in her "Silueta Series" (1973–1980). The series involved Mendieta creating female silhouettes in nature – in mud, sand and grass – with natural materials ranging from leaves and twigs to blood, and making body prints or painting her outline or silhouette onto a wall.

In 1983 Mendieta was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. While in residence in Rome, Mendieta began creating art "objects," including drawings and sculptures. She continued to use natural elements in her work.

Ana Mendieta died on September 8, 1985 in New York from a fall from her 34th floor apartment in Greenwich Village’s 11 Waverly Place,Carl Swanson (April 1, 2012), New York Magazine. where she lived with her husband of eight months, minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. Just prior to her death, neighbors heard the couple arguing violently.William Wilson (February 18, 1998), Los Angeles Times. There were no eyewitnesses.Vincent Patrick (June 10, 1990), New York Times. Andre was tried and acquitted of her murder. During the three-yearVincent Patrick (June 10, 1990), New York Times. trial, Andre’s lawyer described Mendieta’s death as a possible accident or suicide.