Enrique Martínez Celaya is an artist, author, and former scientist whose work has been exhibited and collected by major institutions around the world, and he is the author of books and papers in art, poetry, philosophy, and physics. He is the first person to hold the position of Provost Professor of Humanities and Arts at the University of Southern California. He is a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College and a Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Martínez Celaya has created projects and exhibitions for the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., and the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, Germany among many others, as well as for institutions outside of the art world, including the Berliner Philharmonie, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York, and the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery in Berlin. Work by the artist is held in 48 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. His recognition and awards include the Roth Family Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College, the National Artist Award from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the California Community Foundation Fellowship, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, and the Young Talent Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His work has been the subject of several monographic publications including Enrique Martínez Celaya, 1992-2000 published by Wienand Verlag (Köln), Enrique Martínez Celaya: Working Methods published by Ediciones Polígrafa (Barcelona), and most recently Martínez Celaya, Work and Documents 1990-2015 published by Radius Books (Santa Fe). He is the author of several books including, Collected Writings and Interviews 1990-2010 and The Nebraska Lectures, both published by the University of Nebraska Press, and On Art and Mindfulness: Notes from the Anderson Ranch, published by Whale & Star Press, as well as the artist book Guide, which was later serialized by the magazine Works & Conversations.
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 where he was a Regents Fellow. He conducted part of his graduate research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and while there he painted the Long Island landscape. He published scientific papers on superconductivity and lasers, is the inventor of several patented laser devices and completed all coursework for his doctorate and a significant part of his dissertation before his decision 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 junior fellow at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. Martínez Celaya’s previous academic appointments include a tenured faculty position at Pomona College and the Claremont Graduate University, the second Presidential Professorship in the history of the University of Nebraska, and the Cecil and Ida Green Honors Chair at Texas Christian University. He has offered lectures at venues around the world including the New York Public Library, the American Academy in Berlin, and the Aspen Institute. He is a member of the International Advisory Council at the Hispanic Society of America in New York, and an Artist Advisor at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado, where he previously served on its Board of Trustees.
Martínez Celaya and his studio have sponsored programs for children, provided scholarships for artists, and assisted schools in curricular development. In 1998, as an extension of his commitment to the education and formation of artists, Martínez Celaya founded Whale & Star Press, which publishes books on art, poetry, art practice, and critical theory, and whose titles can be found in bookstores, libraries, schools, universities, and museums throughout the world. He has worked in collaboration with scientists, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians, and architects, including the Canadian rock-band, Cowboy Junkies, the poet and Nobel-Prize-winning chemist, Roald Hoffmann, and the novelist Mary Rakow.