Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision presents the first major museum retrospective dedicated to the work of a Filipino American artist, celebrating the groundbreaking career of Carlos Villa (1936-2013).

Villa’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, self-portraits, and performance art are filled with imagery inspired by his study of non-Western art and culture, including ethnographic objects he observed in museum collections. In his mixed media works from the late 1960s onward, Villa created feathered assemblages on unstretched canvas, evoking shamanic capes, the robes of Hawaiian nobility, and the Catholic vestments of his altar-boy youth. In later works he created body prints and body castings to center his own brown body in contemporary art. Showcasing thirty-six works created between 1959 and 2011, Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision introduces a remarkable contemporary artist to new audiences, illuminating the social and cultural roots, as well as the global importance, of Villa’s art.

About the Artist

Born and raised in San Francisco, Carlos Villa studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. After spending six years in New York exploring an abstract style, he returned to his home city in 1969. That same year, he became an instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he practiced and taught as one of the first post-war artists to actively incorporate cultural motifs and materials into his paintings, sculptures, and performances. Villa considered his lived experience and identity as a man of Filipino descent essential to his work. He received numerous awards, including a Pollack-Krasner Foundation grant and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. The 2019 Singapore Biennial featured Villa’s work as a precursor to and central to concerns in contemporary Asian art.

Carlos Villa, Ritual, 1970‑1971. Mixed media on unstretched canvas,97 x 94 x 4 in. (246.38 x 238.76 x 10.16 cm.)© Mary Valledor, Estate of Carlos Villa. Photograph by Jay Jones.

Carlos Villa, Artist's Feet, 1979‑1980. Paper pulp and feathers, two pieces; each approx. 5 x 15 x 7 in. (12.7 x 38.1 x 17.78 cm.) Lent from a private collection.

Carlos Villa, Orange‑a‑Boom, 2010. Scored lines though acrylic on wood, hardware, each panel 72 x 60 in. (182.88 x 152.4 cm.) © Mary Valledor, Estate of Carlos Villa.

Carlos Villa, Tatu (Tatu Series), 1971. Ink on Itek photograph. 21 1/2 x 14 1/2 in. (54.61 x 36.83 cm.) ©️ Mary Valledor, Estate of Carlos Villa 

Public Events

Save the date! We will celebrate the Filipino American community through stories, language, crafts, music and much more with three different events:

May 6 | A Celebration of Filipinx Aesthetics, a conversation around what is happening in cutting-edge fashion, design, and art, followed by a starry night of celebration with music, food, and performance.

Filipino American Oral History Project

In conjunction with this exhibition, we are gathering and documenting the stories of Filipino Americans living in New Jersey, the tri-state area, and beyond.

Watch these videos to learn more about the exhibition:

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Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute.