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Carlos Cortez Prints

An inventory of the items at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Cortez, Carlos, 1923-
Title: Carlos Cortez Prints
Inclusive Dates: Undated
Quantity: 1 folder (SC)
Abstract: Four original prints, two signed, from the Mexican-American poet, printmaker, and political activist.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Carlos Cortez (1923-2005) was an artist, poet, printmaker, photographer, songwriter and lifelong political activist. His support for the working man was likely encouraged by his parents: his German mother was a socialist pacifist and his father was a Mexican Indian organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the Wobblies. Cortez himself was a member of the IWW for nearly sixty years.

Cortez began his art career drawing cartoons in 1948 for Industrial Worker, the IWW's newspaper, but soon became interested in printmaking. He later became an accomplished oil and acrylic painter, though it never replaced linoleum and woodblock as his preferred medium. Recurrent themes of his art include Chicano issues, Latino identity, and worker's rights; he is also known for his large linocut poster/portraits of well-known activists and labor organizers.

Cortez wrote several collections of poetry, including Where Are the Voices? & Other Wobbly Poems (1997), and was the editor of Viva Posada: A Salute to the Great Printmaker of the Mexican Revolution (2002).

Cortez served as editor of Industrial Worker and on IWW's General Executive Board, and was a popular public speaker. In 1985, to commemorate the union's 80th anniversary, he organized an exhibit entitled "Wobbly: 80 Years of Rebel Art," which featured original works by many of his fellow IWW cartoonists. Cortez's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution, and other venues throughout the United States, Europe and Mexico. In 1998 the Center for the Study of Political Graphics awarded Carlos Cortez their "Art as a Hammer" Award for "his inspired and inspiring use of art to create a more just world."

"When you do a painting that's it, it's one of a kind. But when you do a graphic the amount of prints you can make from it is infinite. I made a provision in my estate, for whoever will take care of my blocks, that if any of my graphic works are selling for high prices immediate copies should be made to keep the price down." (Carlos Cortez, quoted on

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Carlos Cortez Prints consists of undated woodcuts, two signed.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has a number of books illustrated by Carlos Cortez which have been catalogued as Rare Books. Please refer to the Classic Catalog and search on the keyword "Cortez, Carlos" for a complete listing.

For further information on Cortez' art, researchers can contact the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago. His labor writings and papers are archived by Wayne State University, Detroit.

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Subject Headings


Cortez, Carlos, 1923-


Mexican American artists.
Mexican American poets.

Genres and Forms

Prints (visual works)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Carlos Cortez Prints,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2007.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 30 Oct 2007
Revision history:

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SC 211 Prints Undated

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