Skip to content



b. 1955, Brooklyn, New York
Lives and Works in Chicago, IL

Candida Alvarez was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1955. She is an American painter and a tenured professor of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she has taught since 1998.

Candida Alvarez was born in Brooklyn to parents who had arrived from Puerto Rico two years earlier, and grew up in the Farragut Houses. Alvarez earned a BFA from Fordham University in 1977 and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1981. She earned her MFA from Yale School of Art in 1997, and studied at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland from 2010-2012.

Alvarez is a painter known for her complex vibrantly layered combination of abstract and figurative forms rich in pop, historical and modern art references, incorporating world news and personal memories. Many of her painting employ silhouettes and bold colors, and display a fascination with the aesthetics of cartoons, kitsch, and the hand-crafted.

Alvarez's works have included sculptures, collages, abstraction, and figuration, with materials as diverse as fabric, acrylic paint, enamel, galkyd, on various supports from canvas to cotton napkins to vellum. In Mambomountain, presented from December 2, 2012 to March 24, 2013 at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, Alvarez's brightly colored paintings offer distortions of the familiar. In Drawinggreen, presented from September 14, 2012 to October 13, 2012 at Riverside Arts Center in Chicago, Alvarez's plan with this artwork was to transform Freeark Gallery to 'directed reflection on a travel memoir'. According to the Hyde Park Art Center, in these works, "current and historic moments and identities are fused together onto the canvas, producing a hybrid state of uncharted territory." Her painting has been included at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. It was adopted by avant-garde Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo. For the past two decades, she has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In an interview published by Hyde Park Art Center, Alvarez stated, “Having run away from seemingly inadequate definitions for abstract painting, I find myself immersed in a relationship that tracks, exchanges, and shreds the world of news, front-page photography, design, and pictorial memory into a subject-less pictorial mash-up. In essence, there is no more picture; there is only painting.”

Other well-known works by Alvarez include Recollections: Works on Paper by Candida Alvarez & Vincent D. Smith presented at the Brooklyn Museum in 1979.



2010-2012       A.B.D, European Graduate School, Saas-Fee Switzerland

1997                M.F.A, Yale University School of Art

1981                Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

1977                B.A, Fordham University



2017                Candida Alvarez: Here, The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

2012-13           mambomountain, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

2012                drawinggreen, Riverside Arts Center, Chicago, IL

2011                Black, Peregrine Program, Chinatown, Chicago

2003                Paradise, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2002                I Will Always Remember You, TBA Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL

1996                New/Now, New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT

1993                Polyptychs, June Kelly Gallery, NY; catalogue

                       Candida Alvarez, Paintings: 1990-1992, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH

1992                Recent Paintings, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY

1991                Paintings and Works on Paper, The Queens Museum, Flushing, NY

1990                John Street Series, Galerie Schneiderei, Cologne, Germany; catalogue

1989                Paintings and Drawings, June Kelly Gallery, NY

1985                Exit Art, The First World, NY

1983                The Hybrid Series, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT

                       Cows and Other Things, The Cayman Gallery, NYC




2017                Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction 1960s to Today, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO

2016                Present Standard, curated by Edra Soto and Josue Pellot Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

2013                Outside the Lines, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX,

2010                Hangin Together, Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Kerry James Marshall

2007                Contemporary Art Around Lake Michigan, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, curated by James Yood

2006                Black Now, Longwood Arts Project, Bronx; curated by Fred Wilson

                       Bronx Bound, Lehman College Art Gallery, NYC

                       TakeOver, The Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago IL

2003                Scenery, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA (July 17 – August 16)

                       Splat, Boom, Pow: The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art, CAMH, Houston, TX, curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver

2000                Words-Objects-Acts, Museum of the City of Skopje, Skopje, Macedonia; catalog

1999                Choice 99, Exit Art, New York, NY

                       Selected Works From the Permanent Collection, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY

                       Passages: Contemporary Art in Transition, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY

1996                Community of Creativity: A Century of MacDowell Colony Artists, The Currier Gallery of Art, NH

1995                Artists Talk Back: Visual Conversations with El Museo, Reaffirming Spirituality, El Museo del Barrio, NY

1993                Contemporary Public Art in the Bronx, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY

1992                Uncommon Ground; 23 Latin American Artists, The College at New Paltz Art Gallery, NY

1991                Third International Biennial of Painting, Cuenca Ecuador; catalog

1990                Working on Paper: Contemporary American Drawing, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA,

1989                The Blues Aesthetic, The Washington Project for the Arts, WA, DC, curated by Dr. Rick Powell

1988                Introductions, The June Kelly Gallery, NY

                       Treasures from the Permanent Collection 1970-1987, The Studio Museum Harlem, NY

                       Autobiography, In Her Own Image, Intar Gallery, NY

1987                Masters and Pupils: The Education of the Black Artist in New York, The Jamaica Art Center, NY

1986                New Visions, Soho 20, NY

1985                Artists-In-Residence Exhibition, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY

                       Surplus, Exit Art, NY; catalogue

1984                New Sensibilities, The Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY

                       Selections, The Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

1983                Books Alive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

                       The Regentrified Jungle, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY; catalogue Curated by Joe Lewis

1982                27th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA; catalogue

1980                Art for Public Spaces: Proposals/Solutions, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

                       International Studio and Workspace Program, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, LIC, Queens

1979                Recollections: Candida Alvarez and Vincent Smith, The Brooklyn Museum, NY

1977                Confrontation, Ambiente y Espacio, El Museo Del Barrio, NYC, Sept 9-Oct 9




2017               Susan Snodgrass, Arriving Here : Candida Alvarez, Chicago Cultural Center, The Seen, issue 05

                       Lori Waxman, Candida Alvarez's work has something for everyone, Chicago Tribune, Arts + Entertainment, Section 4 pg.

                       Jason Foumberg, Candida's Coloring Book, Chicago Magazine 66, no. 5 pp.43- 44

                       Chris Miller, Painting A Life In Bloom, Candida Alvarez at the Chicago Cultural Center

                       Elisabeth Kirsch, 21 Artists You Should Know; Kemper Museum's "Magnetic Fields Exhibition Highlights Abstractions

                       By Women Artists of Color", KC Studio

                       Anna Marevska, "Comme des Garçons Spring 2017 Men's Collection Features a Chicago Artist's Print, FashionFiles

2016               Dan Quiles, ArtForum Critics’ Picks, Present Standard,

                       Elliot Reichert, Newcity Art, Art 50 2016Chicago's Artist' Artists,

2012               Picard, Caroline, Art 21 Blog, “Center Field, Art in the Middle/Mashed up and Shredded into Space.

                       An Interview with Candida Alvarez

                       Miller, Chris, New City Arts Review, “Candida Alvarez, Riverside Arts Center,” September 2012

2010                Mizota, Sharon, ARTnews, October 2010

2007                Snodgrass, Susan, “Report From Chicago” Art In America, January 2007, pgs. 81- 85

2005                Lopez, Ruth, “Going Down? SubCity Projects elevator exhibition space comes to a halt” Time Out Chicago,

                        May 19-26, 2005, pgs. 49-50

2003                Snodgrass, Susan, “Candida Alvarez at TBA,” Art in America, May 2003, p.154

2000                Rausa, Janet. “Showcase: Passages: Contemporary Art in Transition,” Chicago Sun Times, Feb 25. Pg.39

1999                Johnson,Ken. “Art in Review, CHOICE 99,” New York Times, December 10, 1999, p. B47

1995                Cotter, Holland, “Reaffirming Spirituality,” at El Museo del Barrio,” New York Times, April 21

1994                Balken, Debra Bricker, “Candida Alvarez,” Art in America, April, 1994, Review

1993                MacAdam, Barbara A., “Candida Alvarez, Myth, Memory and Old Lace,” Art News, February, pgs. 67-68

1992                Cotter, Holland, “Art in Review: Candida Alvarez at the Bronx Museum of the Arts,” The NYT, Dec 18, pg. C37

                        Powell, Rick, “Through Myriad Eyes,” Modern Maturity, June-July 1992, pgs. 50-54

                        “Candida Alvarez: Art Feature” Review: Latin American Literature And Arts, July-Dec, pgs. 30-33

1991                Jacques,Geoffrey, “Art Review: Rewarding Rich Imagery, Candida Alvarez at the Queens Museum of Art,”

                        New York Newsday, October 1s

                        Pacheco, Patrick, “The New Faith in Painting,” Art & Antiques, (May 1991, pgs 61-62)

1990                Cyphers, Peggy, "New York in Review: Candida Alvarez," Arts, (February, pg. 100)

                        Reid, Calvin, "Kind of Blue," Arts, (February, 1990, pgs. 54-56)

1989                Langer, Cassandra, "Autobiography: In Her Own Image," Women Artists News, Vol.13, No.3, pgs. 26-27

1988                Fusco, Coco, “Hispanic Artists and Other Slurs,” The Village Voice, (Aug. 9, pg. 22)

                        Raven, Arlene, “Colored,” The Village Voice, (May 31)

                        “Candida Alvarez,” Appearances, (No. 14, Pg. 25)

1987                Brenson, Michael, “Art in Review: New Visions at Soho 2o Gallery,” The New York Times, Jan. 9

1984                Jim Harris, “Two Artists Contribute to Each Others' Success,” The Mountain Eagle, Jan. 24

1983                Sims, Lowery S, Exhibition Essay, “Cows and Other Things,” The Cayman Gallery, NY

1981                Bujan, Juan, “Candida Alvarez and Nestor Otero: Two Puerto Rican Artists at the Cayman Gallery”

                        La Voz Hispana, Dec. 8-14

1980                Bey, Dawoud, “In Search of a Vision: Edward Clark and Candida Alvarez,” Uptown, The NYC Mission Society



The Addison Gallery of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art

El Museo Del Barrio, NYC

The Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC

The Readers Digest, NYC

North General Hospital, NYC

The German Consulate, Philadelphia, PA

The Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA

The Printmaking Workshop, NYC

The University of Delaware, DE

American Telephone and Telegraph, NYC

Bellevue Hospital Center, NYC

Cumberland Hospital, Brooklyn, NY

Private Collections




1994                Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant

1986                New York Foundation for the Arts Artists' Fellowship

1988                Mid-Atlantic-NEA Regional Fellowship

Back To Top