Art In Cuba
Art in Cuba
Cuba has a rich artistic tradition that reflects its diverse European, North American and African cultural influences. In the 19th century, landscape artists dominated, and classicism prevailed, but in the early 20th century, Cuban artists embraced radical European modernism and evolved their own ‘vanguardism’ movement that investigated surrealism, cubism and primitivism, producing a number of celebrated home-grown artists including the painter and mural-maker Wilfredo Lam, who evolved a kind of personalized modern primitivism.
After the 1959 revolution, Cuban artists became isolated from the ideas and movements of North America and Europe, and were often forced to choose between working within the confines of the Revolution, or pursuing their future in exile. It was only during the 1980s and 1990s that a younger generation of Cuban artists felt freer to return to self-expression and radicalism, a tendency that has continued apace. Naïve art has been dominant on the Cuban stage, and its high priest is Jose Fuster, a painter and ceramicist who has transformed his Havana neighborhood into a magical, Gaudi-esque world of colour and fantasy full of Cuban cultural references.
These days, the artistic scene is divided quite sharply between the vibrant street art scene, which draws on the primitivism and naïve art of yesterday, focusing on tropicalia and sensual imagery, and a more intellectualized elite who work from private studios and exhibit internationally. If you are keen to discover Cuba’s artistic heritage and local scene, your first port of call should be the national fine arts museum (Museo Nacional de Belles Artes de la Habana), which traces the journey of Cuban artists from colonization to the presentcentury. You should also make a tour of local artists’ studios and the smaller contemporary art galleries: we can help to tailor-make this experience. If you want to seek inspiration from the street life, natural beauty and people of Cuba, there are countless inspirational locations to choose from, from the decayed glamour of Havana to the ethereal Jurassic beauty of the Vinales Valley in the west. Our guide is an experienced working curator and we offer everything from a half day tour to some of the best known artists studios of a full 2 week pre biennal tour to a number of cities across the island.