A visit to the splendid and celebrated Instituto Superior del Arte (ISA) is a must when planning a cultural trip to Havana. Located in the Cubanacán district of the capital (west of the city) this centre of artistic excellence occupies land formally belonging to the exclusive, pre-revolution Country Club of the Cuban bourgeoisie. For that reason alone it is interesting. But ISA is more recognised for the quality of its teaching and students, and several generations of remarkable artists – from the fields of music, fine arts, contemporary dance, theatre and audiovisuals – have passed through its prestigious portals. It is one of the most respected art academies in the world and maintains an exchange programme with more than 30 universities in Latin America and Europe.
Amid exuberant vegetation you can listen the song of the birds mixed with saxophone riffs, palms sway to a dance piece in progress and the sound of the sculptor´s chisel is often mistaken for the musician’s clave. ISA is poetry in motion.
A further allure for the foreign visitor is its design. Architects Ricardo Porro (Cuba) with Italians Vittorio Garatti and Roberto Gottardi created an unusually sensual experience. Breasts, vaginas and other womanly shapes are represented throughout, and bare terracotta tiles – normally used for roofing- are used on walls. Cuban influences mix with European classicism and seamlessly merge into its luxuriant natural environment. Magnificent domes lead into intriguing, maze-like inner patios. Space and shade abound.
In 1999 the Institute was awarded the Imperial Prize by the Japanese Arts Association. Almost 10,000 arts professionals have graduated from this prestigious Institute since its creation in 1976 and many ex-students – now principal figures of contemporary Cuban culture – still combine their artistic work with teaching here. This year – the 30th celebration – more than 200 students from 39 different study areas have been graduated. Many of them will go on to be the new stars of the future and, happily, be part of maintaining the already prominent position of Cuban art and artists on the international cultural stage.
To learn more about the rich art and culture of Cuba, take one of our art tours that takes you around the country to see some of Cuba’s most prestigious art.