Born on April 28, 1919, in Montevideo, Uruguay to parents who had emigrated from Italy during World War I, Antonio Frasconi grew up in Montevideo. By age twelve he was apprenticing at a local printmakers, and soon thereafter began publishing his cartoons in satirical newspapers. In the 1940s Frasconi began experimenting with woodcuts in the 1940s, and in 1945 he received a scholarship from the Art Students' League, and moved to New York to begin his formal education.
By the 1950s he had become widely recognized as a leading graphic artist, especially in woodblock printing. He married artist Leona Pierce in 1951 and in 1955 published See and Say, A Picture Book in Four Languages, for their son. Over the course of the next fifty years he would illustrate and design over 100 books including the poems of Langston Hughes: Let America be America Again and Pablo Neruda’s Bestiary/Bestiario, the images of America’s Vietnam, and A Whitman Portrait.
The dictatorship in Uruguay was long and hard, finally coming to an end in 1985, four years after the artist began work on his magnum opus, Los Desaparecidos, or The Disappeared, a series of woodcuts and monotypes. Dark, graphically strong, and echoing the book format, Frasconi’s art successfully portrays the horrors of torture, incarceration, and killing while specifically preserving the memory of real people.