Unidentified photographer, Lily Garafulic at the printing press, 1940. Private Archive of the Garafulic Family.
Unidentified photographer, Lily Garafulic engraving a plate, 1946. Private Archive of the Garafulic Family.
Lily Garafulic, Untitled, 1945. Print on paper, 20 x 15 ½ in. (50.8 x 39.4 cm). Courtesy the Private Collection of the Garafulic Family.

35. Lily Garafulic

Life Dates1914-2012
Place of BirthAntofagasta, Chile
Place of DeathSantiago, Chile
Birth NameLilia Justina Garafulic-Yancovic

Lily Garafulic, a Chilean sculptor of Croatian descent, worked at Atelier 17 from 1944 to 1945 while on a Guggenheim fellowship. The youngest of nine children, she resisted her parents and pursued artistic studies at the University of Chile’s School of Fine Arts with the sculptor Lorenzo Domínguez, for whom she served as an assistant after her graduation in 1934.1 In 1938 Garafulic traveled within Europe and met Constantin Brancusi, whose sculpture greatly influenced her thinking. After returning to Chile, she began teaching but wanted to hone her understanding of three-dimensional forms. With a Guggenheim grant awarded in 1944, she arrived in New York planning to learn direct carving with José de Creeft at the Art Students League, but decided to pursue training elsewhere. She, like many sculptors, was attracted to Atelier 17 because of Hayter’s strong focus on understanding engraving’s relationship to volume and space. She worked intensely at Atelier 17 for approximately three months, recalling that the workshop was only a short distance from her apartment on Fourth Street.2 Garafulic participated in Atelier 17’s group exhibition at the Willard Gallery with Cellista [ ]{.underline} (1945), an etching an aquatint. She remained active as a printmaker in Chile, making close to 350 prints and using the lessons of Atelier 17 to teach her own students about thinking in three dimensions. She is well known in Chile for her massive sculptures executed in wood, marble, terra-cotta, and bronze and especially the cycle of Prophets she carved for the exterior of the Basilica of Lourdes in Santiago, designed by her brother, the architect Andrés Garafulic. The University of Talca hold about sixty-five sculptures by the artist.


Garafulic Family, Santiago, Chile

Selected Bibliography

Akoukou Thompson, Nicole. “Chilean Sculptor Lily Garafulic’s Life and Legacy Celebrated in Traveling Exhibition.”. Latin Post, September 22, 2014.

Garafulich-Grabois, Gloria. Lily Garafulic: A Centenary Celebration. Washington D.C. and New York: Garafulic Family & Directorate of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile, 2014.

“Latin American Panorama.” Life 36, no. 22 (May 31, 1954): 78–80.

“Lily Garafulic.” In Alchetron: Free Social Encyclopedia. Accessed January 16, 2017.

Shipp, Steve. “Lily Garafulic.” In Latin American and Caribbean Artists of the Modern Era: A Biographical Dictionary of over 12,700 Persons, 261. Jefferson, NC: McFarland  & Co, 2003.

Wren, Celia. “Lily Garafulic’s Centennial.” The Washington Post, May 16, 2014.

“‘Yankee’ Chile.” Life 32, no. 9 (March 3, 1952): 50–58.


  1. For additional biographical information, see Gloria Garafulich-Grabois, Lily Garafulic: A Centenary Celebration (Washington, D.C.: Garafulic Family and Directorate of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile, 2014).
  2. Thank you to the artist’s niece, Gloria Garafulich-Grabois, for sharing her documentary about her aunt, Lily Garafulic—In Her Own Words (2014). The quoted text was translated by Garafulich-Grabois.