Fifty Shades of Philippine Art: Isabelo Tampinco

Title: Print


Isabelo Tampinco (Fifty Shades of Philippine Art)

by Santiago Albano Pilar

This concise and beautifully illustrated book presents a capsule biography as well as a wide survey of master sculptor Isabelo Tampinco’s work. Though much has been obliterated by the war, enough artworks have been documented to reveal his highly distinctive Filipino aesthetic sensibility.

Isabelo Tampinco stood out from among his peers in sculpture during a time when luminaries like José Rizal, Juan Luna, and Félix Resurreción Hidalgo were transforming the world of Philippine art. The excellence of his sculpted figures, carved santos, intricate woodwork, and architectural decorations won him acclaim among Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. His work adorned private homes, public edifices, and churches, and in time, his distinctive use of native plant motifs in his designs became a uniquely Filipino spin on European art nouveau, one that would come to be known by his name—estilo Tampinco.

This book explores Isabelo Tampinco’s life and background and the influences that shaped him as an artist, as well as his legacy in art. A gallery of his extant works—along with archival photographs of his lost masterpieces, obliterated by the ravages of war—cement Tampinco’s status as one of the greats of all time.


Without a doubt, Isabelo Tampinco left a legacy that cements his place as the greatest Filipino sculptor of the nineteenth century. Plaster, wood, and marble gave him an easy and affordable way to create fine sculptures. And there lies his greatness, in the democratization of the high arts. This book is a most welcome contribution to the dearth of scholarly information on Tampinco.

- Purissima Benitez-Johannot, Curator And Art Critic



Santiago Albano Pilar is a former professor of art history at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, where he taught advanced courses in art history and connoisseurship at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He has authored several landmark books on art and art history such as Juan Luna: The Filipino as PainterPamana: The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection; Inspired Calm: The Sober Realism of Domingo A. Celis; and A Harvest of Saints. He has coauthored several other titles including Limbag Kamay: 400 Years of Philippine Printmaking (with Imelda Cajipe-Endaya) and Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel (with Rodolfo Paras-Perez and Emmanuel Torres). He is associate editor of volume 4 of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art: Philippine Visual Arts. He was the recipient of the 1980 Ten Outstanding Young Men award (TOYM) for his pioneering research on Philippine colonial art history.

Professor Pilar also contributed the section on Philippine painting for the multivolume Grove Dictionary of Art published by Grove Press, London, formerly a subsidiary of the Macmillan Group, but acquired by Oxford University Press in 2003. For his contributions to Philippine art history, he was honored with the Araw ng Maynila Award: Tagapag-alaga ng Sining in 1996. He is a consultant of exhibition projects at the Ayala Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and Cultural Center of the Philippines. He has also curated Héroes Anónimos (January to July 2008), an exhibition organized by the UP College of Fine Arts in conjunction with its centennial year, which was held at the Manila Metropolitan Museum. He was the inaugural recipient of the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Professorial Chair for Art History and Criticism and is the current holder of the Ignacio Villamor Professional Chair for Art.


© 2018

You may also like

Recently viewed