Damien Cruz Virtual Art Gallery
Copyright ©  2006 Damien Cruz.  All rights reserved.
Original Cuban artwork, Giclée Prints and Limited Edition Giclée Prints from this talented artist living in USA is nationally
and internationally recognized.
All artwork shown on this site has been photographed by Damien Cruz Art Gallery, using specialized
equipment that produces Giclée reproductions with outstanding detail and colour fidelity on the
highest quality canvas available. They have been coated with an archival quality matt varnish to protect
against damage. ArtéSol's images have up to 20 times more detail than a standard 10 megapixel
camera. The prints you purchase are validated and ratified by the Cuban artists who painted the original.



Early History The first signs of creative expression In Cuba come from cave painting. Later, the testimonials were the
cartographies of the island combined with impressions and myths developed by the chroniclers. Along the long historic path,
the mural paintings executed, in the most part anonymously, on the interior and exterior of houses from the colonial period
must be mentioned. On the basis of their character and craftsmanship, they have to be labeled "folk art". Natural pigments and
some inferior quality colors were used, and the later the paintings were executed, the more complex and higher quality the
techniques

The Colonial Period  Francisco Javier Báez is the first Cuban graphic artist who, in addition to religious themes, also designed
drawings for tobacco and cigar brands in xylography (a technique which was introduced to Cuba in 1723). Foreign graphic
artists and illustrators, above all French, came to the island and depicted landscapes, customs and places in the form of
albums. The graphic arts, besides their artistic value, were the only means of honestly depicting the events and their
consequences, including folklore. The first graphic document on the Toma de la Habana (The capture of Havana) by the English
was made by Dominique Serres in the year 1762. The lithographic publication was made one year later in France. The six views
of the town, realized by the North American Elías Durnford between 1764 and 1765, form the precursors of the Cuban Scenes
by foreign artists in the 19th century.Towards the end of the 18th century the Cuban cultural panorama changed as a result of
developments achieved so far, which were mainly due to the growth in the sugar industry. The Sociedad Económica de Amigos
del País (Economic Society of the Friends of the Country) was founded, schools and universities multiplied, the public library
was expanded and advertisements by teachers of art and portrait painters appeared in the press. The artists were self-taught
people who exchanged lessons with each other and were regarded as craftsmen.          Estaban Chartrand  El baile


José Nicolás Escalera  The Holy Trinity

José Nicolás Escalera is considered to be the first Cuban painter.  Escalera painted the picture of a negro slave in the mural
paintings of the church of Santa María del Rosario for the first time. The 19th century is characterized by the boom in the sugar
industry and the growing slave trade.  In  1805 the bishop, Juan José Díaz de Espada y Landa, patron of science and art,
entrusted an Italian with the frescoes of the Cathedral of Havana. In 1818  Bishop Díaz de Espada y Landa and Alejandro
Ramírez founded the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes. This, the second academy in the Americas, after San Carlos in
Mexico, had as its first director the Frenchman and pupil of the Master David, Juan Bautiste Vermay.  The style of painting
taught reflected European trends at the time.  
After the death of Juan Bautiste Vermay, the Academy was headed for a short time by a Cuban, then  followed mainly a French-
Italian sequence of successors until the permanent presence of Miguel Melero, the first Cuban Director in the last five years of
the century, which coincided with the halcyon days of the Academy in Cuba. From this time onwards the directorship was to
remain firmly in Cuban hands. This is the starting point for continuity in Cuban national painting. New initiatives and changes,
such as the admission of women to the Academy, for example, at a time when no other institution offered this opportunity, first
appeared under the leadership of this master. Besides his many paintings, he created the picture on the main altar of the
chapel at the Cementerio Colón . In this century graphic art is represented by Leonardo Barañano, Hipolito Garneray, Eduardo
Laplante and also Federico Mialhe , whose three albums "Scenic Walk ", "Picturesque Island of Cuba " and "The Island of
Cuba" form the most complete graphic report. Small lithographic editions, linked to trade and advertisements, appeared from
1822 onwards following the founding of a workshop The brand bands of cigarillos and cigars were produced with great
figurative display using lithography. They were the main driving force behind the development, growth and boom in this
technique           Victor Landaluze El místico del angel



Eduardo Abela Triunfo de la rumba

National painting began to take shape from the mid 19th century onward. Taste and the appreciation of painting developed in
Cuba at the same pace as the intellectual environment of the island was infused with new activities.  Esteban Chartrand and
Valentin Sanz Carta are examples of two opposing points of view, the former, a Cuban of French descent, created nostalgic and
idealized landscapes bathed in twilight, in which the Cuban element of bohíos (farmhouses), ingenios (sugar factories) and
palms can be recognized, and the latter, a Cuban from the Canaries, offered a more direct and realistic landscape flooded with
tropical light.  Armando García Menocal and Leopoldo Romañach Guillén contributed to the cultural renewal which found its
positive aspect, favored by the new era, the new rulers, and the reorganization of education started under the North American
occupation. Romañach is recognized as one of the most able professors in the development of Cuban art, after Juan Bautiste
Vermay and Miguel Melero.
20th Century The commercialization of art did not begin until after 1916, with the Salón de Bellas Artes. Previously there were
no real exhibition rooms available.  Only the Academy itself and exhibitions which were organized in the Pabellón de Educación
in the Quinta de Molinos existed as channels of distribution.  Cultural institutions such as the Atheneum and the Academy for
Art and Literature (1910) developed with private support. The Asociación de Pintores y Escultores cubanos was founded to
represent  the work of Cuban artists  and to organize the annual Salón de Bellas Artes. At the beginning of the twenties a new
generation of intellectuals surfaced in the conflict-ridden political and social panorama. The magazine Avances (1927) was the
fundamental place to accommodate new ideas and artistic debate. Later it was to be the publications Verbum (1930), Espuela
de Plata (1940) and Orígenes (in the fifties). In 1937 forward-thinking artists founded the Estudio Libre de Pintura y Escultura,
promoting such fields of art as wood carving and mural painting which had been neglected by the Academy, and the "First
Salon of Modern Art" was inaugurated. As in any avant-garde movement, the artists tried to transform society through culture.
Those of this period who were to become masters of modern Cuban art also drew from Mexican mural painting.         Victor
Manuel  La gitana tropical



Antonio Gattorno ¿Quieres más café Don Nicolás?


Serigraphy had been employed from time to time in Cuba since the beginning of the century. This contemporary printing
technique was originally used mainly for graphic - publishing and industrial - applications, and its introduction to Cuba (about
1910) was one of the first in the world. Amongst the forerunners of the Cuban avant-garde, Victor Manuel deserves particular
mention, testing new forms from the basis of the figurative and bequeathing a symbol in the history of Cuban art with his picture
La Gitana Tropical. In the third decade, modern art in Cuba finally became consolidated. This is the first moment of the turning
point in Cuban painting, uniting the intimacy of Antonio Gattorno; the guajiros (farmers) of Eduardo Abela; the sensuality of
Carlos Enríquez, the sociopolitical criticisms of Marcelo, the drama of an artistic world, the despair and agony of Fidelio Ponce;
the African roots of Cuban culture emphasized by Wilfredo Lam and the still life, combined with elements of Cuban architecture
of Amelia Peláez. Also belonging to this group are Arístides Fernández and René Portocarrero.
The 1940s and 1950s mark the second moment in Cuban sculpture. In this process of the continued modernization of art, a new
avant-garde developed.  It coincided with trends in international art which was no longer focused on Europe but on North
America. Abstractionism arrived in the country and provoked the Contrabienale of 1953.  Raúl Martínez founded the group Los
11 (Group of Eleven), the abstract Informalists, and then the Concrete artists, independent creative artists who engaged in
geometric abstraction: Sandú Darié, Salvador Corratgé, Luis Martínez Pedró, Loló Soldevilla and Pedro de Oraá. The masters
Antonia Eiriz and Servando Cabrera Moreno turned their attention gradually to Expressionism. In the forties Cuban serigraphy,
in connection with political posters, enjoyed a wide distribution. The merging of serigraphy and the poster form created a
poster art with its own characteristics, which became obvious from 1943 through film posters in particular (due to the boom in
Mexican and Argentinean films); a serigraphic link which continues without interruption to the present.          Amelia Peláez  
Hibisco


Servando Cabrera Moreno  Héroes Bajo el sol

Cuban art from 1959 to the present represents the Revolutionary period. The serigraphic heritage was adopted by the
Revolution in the first few months of 1959.  The graphic arts experienced an extraordinary boom through the poster art of the
ICAIC (Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica = Cuban Institute for Cinematic Art and Industry).   Cultural polices
have left little room for deviation from the official norm and most art produced is propaganda art and as such, the Cuban
Revolutionary school  remains a unique phenomenon in the Spanish Caribbean.

History
It is thought that Cuba was first inhabited by South Americans in 3500BC. The Spanish didn't arrive in Cuba until the 15th
century. Christopher Columbus sighted Cuba in 1942, and saw it as a beautiful place. The Spanish ignored the island and made
their first base on the island of Hispaniola. In 1512, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar led 300 Spaniards to Cuba and took over the
land. They killed many Indians in the process, although Velázquez was not in favor of killing the people who had been living
there. The explorers established large estates which enslaved the Indians. In 1542, the system was abolished although the
slavery and disease brought by the Spanish had wiped out all but about 5,000 Indians. Cuba had become under an increasing
threat of attack by the British. They had already taken over the surrounding islands. On June 6, 1762, Cuba fell under British
rule. The British captured Havana and occupied it for 11 months. The British brought 4000 African slaves to Cuba, and expanded
Cuba's international trading. Due to the increase of labor from the slaves, Cuba became the largest producer of sugar. In 1820
Cuba became the worlds largest producer of sugar, since Haiti's economy, their biggest competitor, was in the midst of a slave
uprising. Between 1810, and 1825, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the only remaining Spanish colonies in the western hemisphere.
Spanish loyalists fled to Cuba in masses from the former Spanish colonies. In 1868, Cuba launched independence. After 10
years and 200,000 deaths, Cuba was grated freedom. In more recent times, the US has gained control of many things in Cuba.
Soon, Fidel Castro became prime minister, and began giving schooling etc. In the past three decades however, Cuba has been
under much criticism for human rights.
Music
The African Slaves brought with them rhythm and ritual dances. These songs then mixed with the Spanish guitars and
melodies. The new form of music was them Americanized. The modern party dance form of the "Conga Line" was originated by
slaves shackled together, as many of the Cuban dances are associated with Afro-Cuban religions. One of the most popular
forms of Cuban music is son, which was formed in the hills of Oriente before the turn of the century. Son incorporated guitars,
tres (a small Cuban stringed instrument with three pairs of strings), double bass, bongos, claves, maracas and voice. Other
forms of music, such as Mambo, bolero, salsa and chachachá all derived from this form.
Art
The first form of Cuban art is cave painting. Later testimonials included the cartographies of the island, combined with
impressions and myths developed by chroniclers.

Unlike the other Latin American colonies, the island during the 15th and 16th centuries was very poor and neglected
economically and therefore also of little significance culturally. Foreign artists streamed to Cuba, the "key to the New World",
and a great number of paintings were brought from Spain to furnish chapels and churches. Art had a cult function before it
became an expression of the culture in any real sense. In the colonial period, (which historically spans four centuries), only the
18th and above all the 19th centuries are significant in terms of the creation of Cuban art. This was the first time that art was
thought of in Cuba as an occupation. The artists were mulattos or blacks - self-taught people who exchanged lessons with
each other; they were regarded as craftsmen. José Nicolás de la Escalera y Domínguez is the first Cuban painter, with the
exception of Tadeo Chirino from Santiago, who, although sixteen years younger, developed a work with more inaccuracies and
primitivism.

National painting began to take shape from the mid 19th century onward. Taste and the appreciation of painting developed in
Cuba at the same pace as the intellectual environment of the island was infused with new activities. Romanticism made its
appearance in the paintings of this era with landscape paintings.
The commercialization of art did not begin until after 1916, with the Salon de Bellas Artes. Prior to that, the portrait represented
a two-sided relationship, history was linked more to the state, and the allegorical was attributable to education. The Asociación
de Pintores y Escultores cubanos was founded to defend the work of Cuban artists against foreign ones, and to organize the
annual Salón de Bellas Artes. Whilst the peninsular sector enjoyed Spanish painting, the ruling oligarchy mainly invested in
foreign models, in that production which was dedicated to their cultural style of life. The revolution in sculptural art, introduced
in Europe by Cezanne, Gauguin, van Gogh …, with the modern - ism , appeared in Cuba with a delay of two decades. Portrait and
landscape subjects demanded a return to significance in their own right and were created using other artistic techniques, with
the exception of oil on canvas. Those of this period who were to become masters of modern Cuban art drew inspiration from
these sources and from Mexican mural painting, until a personal and deeply Cuban work was created.

The 40s and 50s mark the second moment in Cuban sculpture. In this process of the continued modernization of art, a new
avant-garde developed; this time coinciding with trends in international art which was no longer focused on Europe but on North
America. Abstractionism arrived in the country and provoked the Contrabienale of 1953. The aforementioned artists adapted
their work to these new influences. Cuban art of the previous four decades represents the revolutionary period, its continuity
and the completion of a process of maturing. The sixties encouraged heterogeneity, plurality and freedom of expression,
optimism and trust in order to emphasize the changes taking place in the country. Humorous drawings, based on everyday
realities, developed along broad lines.    
The decade of the 70s was a time when sketches and graphic art flourished. In the 80s, emancipation had been researched
and announced in terms of collective approaches. In the present decade it is difficult to form groups for the very reason that it
is a time of individualism and subjectivism. The openness and flexibility of power makes diversity possible. The generation of
the 70s remains latent and, together with well-known names, a whole series or younger artists appear.
The history of Cuban art would be incomplete if art in exile, centered mainly on the USA and Paris, were to be excluded. It
encompasses the production of the old masters who left the country as well as those of Arte Calle of the eighties, the so-called
generation of Mariel and others, who had to adapt their works to suit the requirements of the market. Also those living in
Mexico, Paris or Madrid who traveled to Miami after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the generation which trained abroad, Arturo
Rodríguez, Juan González and Hernán García from the generation from Miami). We know nothing of the development and fate of
any of these.


Cuban painting began in earnest in the 18th century with such artists as José Nicolás de la Escalera and Vicente Escobar. Late
18th- and early 19th-century artists were influenced by newly developed European and American printing techniques in
lithography, a process that reproduced paintings cheaply. Suddenly the middle class was able to afford art, and artists created
works for a new audience. Costumbrismo, an art form that satirized social types within Cuban society, was particularly popular
beginning in the 1840s and 1850s. Victor Patricio de Landaluze, a painter and cartoonist, is the most recognized artist of this
type. His oil paintings and watercolors stereotype the farmer, landowner, slave, and Afro-Cuban santeros (religious
practitioners). Romantic landscape painting also characterized this period and idealized nationalism not in political terms but in
an attachment to the island’s natural habitat.
With the introduction of European avant-garde styles in the 1920s and 1930s, a new generation of painters, such as Victor
Manuel, Eduardo Abela, and Carlos Enríquez, concerned themselves with black and mulatto components of Cuban society.
Their interests complemented anthropologist Fernando Ortíz’s argument that Afro-Cuban culture formed the distinguishing
aspect of Cuban identity. Other painters, such as Fidelio Ponce de Leon or Aristides Fernández, followed a different path by
depicting certain dramatic or religious aspects of the human condition. Post-1930s painters such as Amelia Pelaez, Rene
Portocarrero, and Mariano Rodríguez were linked to the literary group of Origenes and depicted modern, abstract variations of
typically Cuban architecture features, such as domestic interiors, stained glass windows, and church facades.
During the 1950s a new group of painters, known as El Grupo de los 11, challenged the aesthetics of the former masters by
introducing the abstract tendency with emphasis on geometric form and color rather than realism. Wifredo Lam worked most
of his life in Paris and was influenced by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, but he returned to Cuba in 1966 after the revolution to
become a master teacher. His works incorporated surrealism while often featuring Afro-Cuban images.
After the 1959 revolution a number of painters left Cuba and established themselves mainly in Madrid and Paris. However,
younger generations of artists both in Cuba and in exile introduced new and exciting dimensions to Cuban art. Between 1960
and 1980 much of Cuban art, particularly poster art, portrayed positive images of the revolution. Artists used simple materials
to compose images of heroic sacrifice and military battles that brought socialism to the Americas and the world.
In the 1980s, as the problems of the revolutionary experiment became increasingly clear to most Cubans, a generation of
artists in the island produced blatant criticism of the government. Their works derided incompetence, corruption, and
hopelessness, and they even depicted scenes of torture, escape, and suicide. Many of these artists eventually chose exile over
remaining in Cuba. More recently Cuban art often reflected individual responses to isolation and frustration as well as the
difficulties of daily life, which was a less theoretical, but no less serious, denunciation of the government.

CUBAN ART
While diverging widely in styles, influences, methods, materials, and even locations, an art identified with Cuba and Cuban
culture grew and developed to international acclaim in the last decades of the twentieth century. In 1984 when Cuba
established the Biennial of Havana - an event designed to showcase contemporary art from Latin America (and later the Third
World), the art world was taken by surprise.
Artists and critics from North America and Europe who visited Cuba in the 80’s were startled by the fact that a communist
country, still embroiled in Cold War politics and suffering an embargo imposed by the U.S., could produce a group of artists who
could create, as one critic put it, “a new exuberant art that builds bridges between kitsch, folklore, popular religion, and
postmodernism...”.
It is surprising and revealing that a small island, lagging in global communication, can produce so many excellent contemporary
artists of such high technical accomplishment and with an altogether fresh voice.
Part of the explanation lies in post-revolutionary attitude towards the arts. Art literacy was an integral part of the cultural
program and was seen as a crucial vehicle to achieve cultural change. The founding in 1976 of the Instituto Superior de Arte, a
five year graduate school offering degrees in the visual arts, theatre and music, represented a major investment in education
and helped to produce one of the best-educated populations in the Caribbean.
Contemporary Cuban art is riveting, magical and  full of surprises. It is a rich interplay of European traditions and native cultures
- fusing the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of the African presence, incorporating all the dimensions of the imagination;
celebrating the body, the senses and relations between humans; and exploring the reality of the revolution and the endless
struggle for a political ideal.

The diversity of the work shown here attests to the creative and technical achievement of the artists on this island nation.
The works range from hand-pulled prints that utilize a range of Printmaking techniques, to drawings, to oils, and a variety of
mixed media.
By today’s market standard, many of these works are vastly undervalued due largely to the relative isolation of the Cuban art
market. We hope you enjoy the value and selection we offer here.

A boom in Cuban art has generated an explosion of fakes. What happened first to Wifredo Lam is now happening to his Cuban
contemporaries and successors. By Mark Hunter        


Lam in his studio in the 1960s
The door to Lou Laurin Lam's Paris apartment, on a quiet street near the Bastille, is armor-plated—but not because the place is
packed with treasures. It's not thieves the widow of the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam needs protection from, but art dealers and
collectors. As the author of the highly regarded catalogue raisonné of her late husband's works and sole uncontested judge of
their authenticity, Lou Lam has the power to make people very angry. A few years ago, a dealer was so enraged by her negative
judgment on a painting that he assaulted her. (Luckily a family friend was there to throw him out.) Since that day, she does not
admit anyone to the apartment when she is alone. "We make them leave the picture for at least a day," says her son Esquiledo,
a 37-year-old pilot with an art-history degree who now spends most of his time helping his mother protect Lam's heritage from
a plague of forgeries. "And we communicate the answer by letter, so the reaction can happen somewhere else."Much against
her will, Lou Lam has found herself at the center of a crisis in a major new sector of the art market, as a boom in Cuban art has
generated an explosion of fakes. The boom began with the market's rediscovery of Lam in 1979, three years after a stroke had
left him partially paralyzed. (He died in 1982 at the age of 80.) In fall 1979 Sotheby's sold a 1943 oil for $104,500—a
breakthrough that turned into a trend in 1984, when no fewer than 58 Lams were sold by Christie's and Sotheby's, with the top
price climbing from $198,000 to $214,000 between the spring and fall sales. The escalation hasn't stopped. Last May a 1943 oil,
La mañana verde (Green Morning), sold at Sotheby's for $1,267,500, about 12 times the price of a comparable work two
decades ago.Simultaneously, Lam's oeuvre became a template for forgery on a vast scale. Since 1992 alone, Lou Lam has
approved a total of 310 authentic works, and turned thumbs down on approximately twice as many fakes—"an average of 100
per year," says Esquiledo. The appearance in 1996 of the first volume of her catalogue raisonné (published by Acatos, in
Lausanne), covering about 1,000 works from the period 1923 to 1960 has slowed the traffic (since January the Lams have seen
only a dozen new fakes) without stopping it. Last year, for example, Christie's was offered what Fernando Gutierrez, vice-
president and head of the Latin American department, calls "an extremely well done" fake Lam, a work on paper that purported
to come from a series of studies for Lam's 1943 masterpiece, The Jungle. Had it been genuine, says Gutierrez, the piece would
have been worth $200,000.What happened first to Lam is now happening on a massive scale to his Cuban contemporaries and
successors. An ARTnews investigation in the United States, France, and Cuba reveals that not just Lam but Cuban art as a
whole is being corrupted and undermined by forgery on a massive scale. There are "thousands of fakes," charges the Miami-
based publisher Ramón Cernuda, a leading collector of Cuban art. He says he has been offered "in excess of 500 forgeries"
since he began collecting at the end of the 1970s. Miami gallery owner Gary Nader, a leader in the field and publisher of The
Latin-American Art Price Guide, asserts that he has seen "millions of dollars in fakes" in private homes and galleries. In his
opinion, "95 percent of Cuban paintings on the market are fakes."
In 1993 Lou Lam wrote on the back of a photo of the painting below: "l'oeuvre...n'est pas de le main de" (is not from the hand of)
Wifredo Lam. A Florida dealer changed her certificate to read: "l'oeuvre...est bien de" (is certainly from) Lam's hand. But a
second dealer, to whom the picture was offered, got suspicious and sent the certificate back to Lou.

Juan Martínez, associate professor of art history at Florida International University in Miami and author of Cuban Art and
National Identity: The Vanguardia Painters, says that in the past three years about 40 percent of the pictures he has been asked
to authenticate were fakes. Likewise, Marta Gutierrez—a dealer who serves as Sotheby's associate and representative for
Puerto Rico, and who bought pictures directly from Wifredo Lam—thinks that 50 percent of the Cuban paintings people brought
to her gallery in the mid-1990s were fakes. Her son Fernando, of Christie's, who worked in her gallery from 1982 to 1996, puts
the figure at 70 percent or more.The vendors are not all innocent. The Lams believe that of the hundred-odd people who
personally brought them works to examine during that period--about half, they say, were collectors, with the rest divided
between go-betweens (or "runners") and galleries--two out of five were not acting in good faith. Those numbers suggest that
the traffic in forged Cuban works is now the domain of organized networks, operating on an international scale. There are
"networks of dealers," Esquiledo says, "who present [fake] pictures first in the U.S., then in Europe. If they're Spanish-
speaking, they'll start with Miami then Mexico, then Spain, and finally Paris."
Lou Laurin Lam has the right to separate true from false.
The Lams almost certainly never encounter the more savvy forgers, because French law (unlike American and Cuban law)
gives them, as Lam’s heirs, a droit morale, or "moral right," over Lam's work. This means that they alone decide officially what
is authentic and what is fake. If they believe a work is fake, they can file a complaint that will result in its confiscation and
destruction if it is on French soil. They have done just that in 80 cases involving 130 pictures, by Esquiledo's count. But that
power to seize and destroy a fake also gives pause to a collector who suspects he has one. As Gary Nader points out, "How do
you get your money back if you have no evidence?"The Lams reply that seizing fakes is the only sure way to get them out of
circulation. This spring a photograph of a forgery the family first saw in 1996 was sent to them by an Italian who claimed it had
belonged to his father, who was missing from the previous provenance. "We've been shown the same picture twice in two
weeks," recounts Esquiledo, "with two different grandfathers in the provenance."The first sign of the coming flood of fake
Lams appeared in 1980, when a gallery near Ghent, Belgium, put on an exhibition of 53 pictures by Wifredo Lam and 67 other
works by various modern masters, which were all fakes. Also on display was a fake telegram from Lou Lam stating her regret
at missing the opening. (The forger later went to prison.)Prior to that, Lou had seen occasional fakes of her husband's works
from his Italian period in the 1960s and '70s--"some drawings, some pastels, a few paintings," she recalled during a series of
conversations in her Paris home. Her own large ceramic works and mixed-media canvases fill the apartment, alongside Lam's
collection of African and Pacific Island wood masks and sculptures, and a wrought-iron door from their former home in Italy
that he decorated with sheet-metal cutouts of horned gods. Born in Stockholm in 1934, Lou Laurin met Lam at a Paris gallery
opening in 1955 and married him in 1960.Lou Lam likes a good joke, and that was how she regarded those early fakes. "They
were pretty gross," she says--nothing that could fool a serious dealer or collector--and she even considered them normal. After
all, she points out, "there have been fakes in Italy since the Middle Ages."But more than a dubious Latin tradition was involved
here. Historical and social forces were about to turn Lam into the breakthrough figure for the market in modernist and
contemporary Cuban art. The sense of impending changes in a closed society, coupled with access to new or rediscovered
genres of art, excited collectors--and speculators--as the 1980s came to an end. That excitement has since been sustained by
what Juan Martínez calls "the myth of the last Communist bastion," which adds cachet to artists touched by Castro's
revolution. And there is the added element of rarity. From the beginning of the boom in Cuban art, Martínez notes, "there was a
vacuum in the market--lots of demand and no supply, because the art was in the Cuban museums, locked up."Lam fit the role of
the first Latin American "crossover" artist in part because he had lived and worked in many countries. Of Afro-Cuban descent,
he assimilated European modernism without sacrificing his own heritage. Born in 1902, he set sail for Europe in 1923, after
finishing his education in working class public schools, on a scholarship reserved for "a young person of color in need." His
first wife and infant son died of tuberculosis in 1931 as he was struggling to launch his painting career in Madrid, and rage at
poverty helped draw him to the Left. He fought on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War, was wounded, and followed the
Republican exodus in 1938 to Paris, where he became a friend of Picasso ("Love at first sight," Lam later recalled) and the
Surrealists. The following year, Picasso found Lam a Paris dealer, Pierre Loeb--who, when Picasso brought him to Lam's studio
for the first time, remarked that Lam "is influenced by the Negroes." To which Picasso replied furiously, "He's got the right, he
is a Negro!"Picasso realized that Lam was no primitive; on the contrary, he represented the fusion of Cuba's naive tradition with
European esthetics. He was the perfect reply to the Cubists' fascination with African art. It was after his return to Cuba in 1941--
he had fled occupied France--that he fully achieved a synthesis of Cubist technique, Surrealist sensibility, and animistic, voodoo-
influenced subject matter. In his best-known work, The Jungle, deities that look like composites of animals, plants, and
humans, skulls rolling at their feet, seem to march out of a nightmare into the space around the viewer.In the early 1940s, he
began to exhibit at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. At the war's end, he resumed traveling again--to Haiti, France, Italy,
Venezuela, and New York. By the 1950s another of his trademark images, the femme-cheval-- half woman, half horse--had
become a central motif. He abandoned his Cuban residence on April 8, 1958, the day before the general strike that heralded
Castro's 1959 victory, leaving behind what Esquiledo Lam estimates at 75 to 80 important works--the family has never received
an exact accounting from the Cubans--and an unknown number of drawings. Before leaving, Lam hurriedly burned many pieces
that he considered worthless, but he didn't have time to destroy them all. Other works may have been looted by burglars and
soldiers from both sides; Lam's home was near a military base--an area that all but violent gangs had fled as the end
approached. Esquiledo remembers his father later accepting the nationalization of his paintings, saying "It's good for the
people; they can see my work."Despite generally friendly relations with the revolutionaries--Lam declined Castro's invitation to
become minister of culture in 1962 on the grounds that he was an artist, not a politician, recalls Esquiledo--he moved back to
Europe, and eventually settled in Albisola, Italy. But he remained a patriot. When the Cuban government offered a blatantly
propagandistic collective painting to the Salon of May in Paris in 1967, the center of the wheel-shaped piece was by Lam.From
the start, judging by the family's files, fakes circulated most rapidly in the countries where Lam had lived and worked, such as
Spain, Italy, and France, as well as in the Cuban exile community in South Florida. Last year a sale of Cuban art at the Ansorena
auction house in Madrid fell flat after word spread among collectors that there were problems with the pieces on sale. Today
the traffic is no longer confined to those markets. One forgery the Lams first identified in 1992 (bundled in a Swedish collection
of 23 pictures, all fakes) later turned up in Florida, and was offered to a gallery in Germany last spring.The fact that Lam traveled
and worked in so many places affords multiple opportunities for forgers seeking to establish an authentic looking provenance.
A case in point was reported by Pierre Loeb's son Albert, who knew Lam as a child in Cuba, where his family joined the artist
after fleeing Nazi-occupied France. He recalls that a few years ago, an employee in his Paris gallery was approached by a man
who wanted him to steal exhibition stickers that could be applied to the backs of fake Lams.Daniel Lelong, whose first Lams
were purchased from the estate of Pierre Matisse and whose Paris gallery has held an exclusive tract on the sale of works
belonging to the Lam family since 1988, says, "It has happened that people--dealers, collectors, runners--show up here, saying,
'I've got things by Lam,' and ask for certificates. Maybe 50 percent of them are acting in good faith." He provides a certificate,
he says, only when "I have previously sold the work, never for things that I haven't sold." In the current market a Lam without a
certificate from Lou Lam is immediately suspect--a tribute to the respect accorded her catalogue raisonné. She charges 1,400
French francs, about $250, for an initial consultation and a fee if the work is authentic, ranging from $300 for a drawing or
pastel to $10,000 for a major painting.
FROM LEFT   Collector Francisco García, with friends Marcelino Alvarez and Ramón Cernuda, picketing the Alfredo Martínez
gallery in Coral Gables.
There are such large quantities of Cuban fakes, and so many of them are skillfully done, that even experts have been burned.
Cernuda, who is considered a mentor by many other collectors, bought a fake Tomás Sánchez from Lumbreras Arts, Inc., of
Miami for $16,000 in 1992. (The Eleventh Circuit Court of Dade County awarded him the price of the picture plus interest in
1995.) In September Cernuda and fellow collector Francisco García picketed the Alfredo Martínez gallery in Miami, wearing
paintings by Cuban artists García had purchased at the gallery that he subsequently decided were fakes. A person answering
the phone at the gallery said Martínez was traveling and could not be reached.Sánchez, born in 1928, symbolizes both the
current generation of Cuban painters and the rapidity with which forgers have seized on their works. He emerged as the leader
of the Volumen Uno group after winning the Joan Miró Prize in Barcelona in 1980. Granted political asylum by the United States
in 1993, he currently divides his time between Miami and Costa Rica.In the past six months, Miami dealer Jorge Sorí, who
worked with Sánchez on an exclusive contract from 1993 to 1996, sold two of his medium-size pictures for a total of $180,000,
and another Sánchez set a record price for the artist of $310,500 at Christie's last May. As his prices have risen, so has the
volume of fakes: "In the past five years," says Sorí, "I've seen 300 fakes of this artist." Sorí has also seen fakes of works by
Lam and Amelia Peláez, the modernist painter and ceramist who died in Havana in 1968.
A landscape by Tomás Sánchez (above) sold at Christie's last year for $310,500, an artist's record. The landscape below is a
fake.

One of the more spectacular public incidents to date in this traffic occurred last November, when Christie's withdrew from its
fall sale six important Cuban works estimated at a total of $500,000. One of the forged artists was Mario Carreño, who was
born in 1913 and fled the revolution in 1959 for Chile, where he still lives. Another was René Portocarrero, who died in Havana in
1985 at the age of 73. Mariano Rodríguez (1912-90) and Estéban Chartrand (1825-89), about whom Cernuda is writing a
biography, completed the group.The decision to withdraw the pictures was based in part on Christie's suspicion that someone
in the Cuban government has been helping forgers. One of the withdrawn pictures "was accepted for sale on the basis of a
certificate from an expert in Cuba--and the certificate was fake," says Fernando Gutierrez. "The expert confirmed it, and also
that the picture was fake." The picture was supposed to be a Portocarrero, according to Cernuda, and the expert who had
allegedly signed the certificate was Ramón Vázquez, head of the department of Cuban painting at the Museum of Fine Arts in
Havana, whom Juan Martínez considers the leading expert on Cuban modernists of the 1930s and 1940s. Instead, Cernuda
believes, the certificate probably came from a stock of "at least 100" documents stolen from the Cuban National Museums by
someone within the bureaucracy, which were then sold to forgers. Most of the high-ranking Cuban cultural officials ARTnews
contacted by phone and fax declined requests to comment.This is not the first time that what are believed to be stolen Cuban
government certificates bearing forged signatures have appeared on the market. One recently came into the hands of Juan
Martínez. The certificate accompanied a picture that Martínez was asked to examine, and it was supposedly signed by Ramón
Vazquez. The trouble was, the signature of Vazquez, and that wasn't his signature. I called Vazquez"—whom Martínez had
previously met during the Cuban expert's two visits to Miami—"and he said it wasn't his signature." Soon afterward, Martínez
returned to Cuba for a visit (he was born on the island and left as a child in 1966) and was told by "a contact in the government's
cultural bureaucracy" that "someone in the national museums" had acquired blank certificates and sold them. "They were
used and signed by different individuals. Depending on what was faked, they would use the 'signature' of the right specialist."
Several fakes in the Lams' files are accompanied by apparently authentic certificates, bearing forged signatures, from Cuban
government agencies. On one such certificate, purporting to be from the Fondo de Bienes Culturales and dated May 1990, the
signatures of the buyer and the approving official appear to be written in the same hand. There is another danger sign: the
certificate spells Lam's name as "Wifredo Oscar de la Concepción Lam y Castilla," which is not how it was recorded at his
birth in Havana in 1902. It wasn't until 1923 that a Spanish functionary carelessly dropped the "l" from "Wilfredo" on an
immigration form, a mistake the artist joyfully adopted in his signature. Warns Juan Martínez, "If you have a certificate from the
Cuban National Museums, you're recommended to fax it to them to see if it's real." Christie's has reached the same conclusion,
says Fernando Gutierrez: "At this point, we confirm the authenticity of each certificate, too. If they can fake a painting, they can
fake a certificate."A Carreño that was withdrawn from Christie's November sale last year raises an equally troubling issue: that
fake paintings may be accompanied by real certificates--in this case, a certificate signed by the artist's wife, Ida Gonzales de
Carreño. (The artist is unable to move or speak as the result of a stroke.) Laboratory tests showed that the pigment contained
traces of titanium white, a substance for which "the likelihood of the artist using it at the time was not high," says Gutierrez. "It
was withdrawn for that reason, basically," he says, adding that he "won't rule out the possibility that the picture is good."
The "Carreño" above was withdrawn from Christie's sale last November, although it was accompanied by a certificate from the
artist's wife. Carreño's Patio Colonial Cubano (below) sold for $442,500 at Christie's last May.

Gutierrez remains convinced that Gonzales "is a person of integrity—if she made a mistake, it wasn't with fraudulent intent."
Asked to respond, Gonzales replied, "I won't answer that—it strikes me as a bad joke." "Nonetheless," says Isabella
Hutchinson, director of Sotheby's Latin American department, "we've never accepted a painting solely because of her
certificate."Dealers worry that the omnipresence of fakes is frightening buyers away from the market for Cuban art. In the past
year, says Miami dealer Nader, "I've lost at least 10 or 15 young collectors, because they don't know what to do." Cernuda fears
that "Carreño prices are taking a major dip because of the massive forgeries." Three out of the eight Carreños in Sotheby's
May sale went unsold, including a Still Life estimated at $40,000 to $60,000, highest among the eight.Forgers have drawn a
major advantage from the fact that as the legitimate market for Cuban art has widened, its collector base has changed
radically. Mary-Anne Martin, who runs a New York gallery specializing in Latin American art, watched that change during her
years at Sotheby's, where she founded the department of Latin American art in 1979. In those days, she recalls, "almost
everyone bought according to national background--Mexicans bought Mexican artists, Brazilians bought Brazilians, a few
Venezuelans crossed over." Now, she says, "the market has widened to include Americans, resettled Latins, Europeans, and
Japanese." These new buyers are less knowledgeable. "They're not specialists anymore."Cuban exiles remain the forgers'
prime target, because of their growing wealth and because, as Miami developer and collector Francisco García, who emigrated
in 1960, puts it, "most people like myself buy for nostalgia, on emotion. We are not very knowledgeable."Because the exile
community is relatively small and closeknit, until very recently its members were reluctant to denounce untrustworthy dealers.
"You're going to see them later on the street," says one dealer. Some of them sport the kind of monikers adopted by the
underworld, like a Miami runner familiarly known as El Porco, the pig. Others, like Sergio Vismara of the Paper Moon Gallery in
Bay Harbor Islands, were more respectable. In 1994 Vismara obtained a certificate of inauthenticity from Lou Lam for a canvas,
then changed a few words, turning it into a certificate of authenticity. At the end of the year, Vismara offered the fake and the
doctored certificate to Gary Nader's annual auction of Latin American art, a major event in the field. The picture, Nader recalls,
was "a well-done fake. I had doubts, so I sent the certificate to Madame Lam. She said, 'They changed it.'" Nader adds, "I've
seen this happen four or five times." He did not take action beyond refusing Vismara's fake, he says, for fear of legal reprisals.
Vismara subsequently sold it for $50,000, plus two other pictures worth $25,000 each, to a local collector. Miami Beach police
records show that the following year Vismara was arrested for the deal and charged with three counts of grand theft in the first
degree. Eventually he made restitution, and the case didn't go to trial.Another major problem is the relative dearth of
scholarship in the area. "Lam is the only Latin American artist with a decent catalogue raisonné," says Mary-Anne Martin. In his
case, the source material was readily available. From 1960 on, he systematically documented his output in photographs, and
even in the decades when he was moving from place to place, he kept notes on his works in progress. Moreover, says Lowery
Stokes Sims, curator of 20th-century art at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and author of a doctoral thesis and several
influential articles on Lam, "he had himself photographed extensively in the 1940s with his works. There are pictures in the
studio with every single painting he had at the time."Sims's choice of Lam as a subject is itself a comment on past scholarly
neglect. An African American, she recalls that "I was told in school that no people of color ever made significant art"—a notion
she has sought to debunk. Despite scholars like Sims, Juan Martínez, and a handful of others, there remains a large hole in the
scholarly literature where Latin American art ought to be. And that hole, as Martínez points out, is a mine for forgers, because it
renders attempts to authenticate Cuban works far more difficult. The majority of dealers in Cuban art, he remarks, "haven't
been to Cuba, they haven't handled the paintings, they haven't been to big exhibitions--so where are the experts? Where do you
get informed?"Asked to name the experts on whom Christie's relies, Fernando Gutierrez replies, "We're the experts," but he
also concedes that Martínez is right: "What leads to this insecurity is the lack of archival material." Others name Mary-Anne
Martin and the Spanish scholar Maria Lluisa Borras, an expert on Lam's work of the 1930s. Sotheby's relies mainly on
provenances and "gut instinct," says Hutchinson. "We try to stay as neutral as possible--we really just try to sort out the story.
We sometimes ask our restorers, 'Does this look like new paint?' If we have a doubt, we don't put it in the sale."There are
experts with ample documentation at their disposal within the island's cultural bureaucracy--but the U.S. embargo and
difficulties in dealing with Cuba make it hard to consult them. "If an expert leaves Havana [to go elsewhere in Cuba], it's virtually
impossible to reach him," sighs Fernando Gutierrez. "No overnight delivery. Ordinary mail, forget it. Communication becomes
complicated and difficult, and this business is predicated on good communication for all parties."What has the Cuban
government, the greatest repository of the island's artistic patrimony, done to stop the traffic in fakes? The answer is: not
much, beyond acknowledging for the first time in response to questions from ARTnews that the traffic exists. In 1992 high-
ranking cultural officials created the Foundation of the Friends of Wifredo Lam, one of whose declared purposes was "to reply
to any international campaign of defamation" and, in particular, the notion that fake Lams "are made on the island." But when
he was asked by ARTnews in a fax to Havana if fakes were coming out of Cuba, the respected expert Alejandro Alonso, former
vice-president of the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana and founder and director of the National Museum of Cuban Ceramics,
answered, "Of course. I can't tell you where or how they are being made. I can only say that I have seen them." One of the
places he has seen them, he added, was the government owned Acacias gallery in Havana, which sells Cuban art for hard
currency.Visitors to the island report that the traffic in fakes is quite open. They are sometimes good enough to impress a
scholar like the Met's Lowery Sims, who says the fakes in the Lams' files give her "a sense of people who are highly skilled."
Tomás Sánchez, the Cuban exile artist, explains that "there are good painters in Cuba in a very difficult economic situation, who
in other circumstances wouldn't forge works. In these circumstances, they do it to survive." And in some cases they have
banded together. Cernuda speaks of the "Santa Fe School" of counterfeiters, named for the Havana neighborhood where they
operate, who specialize in Peláez and Carreño. If their fame has reached him in Miami, he says, it must have reached Cuban
authorities: "In a country like Cuba, a closed society, you can't get away with a school of forgers without someone in authority
looking the other way."That is indeed where the authorities are looking, concedes Alex Rosenberg, a New York dealer and
visiting professor at the Higher Institute of Arts in Havana, who has enjoyed chatting with Castro in another of his roles, as a
trustee of the island's Ludwig Foundation for the Arts, established by the late German chocolate magnate and art patron Peter
Ludwig. "As long as nothing's going out that's important to the nation, the Cuban authorities don't care," Rosenberg says.
Through the early 1990s, the Lams say, the provenance attached to nearly all the fakes they saw was Cuban—"an invariable
source in the declarations of the owners" who sought Lou Lam's expertise, as she wrote to then minister of culture Armando
Hart in 1990. She raised the issue again with Cuban authorities in 1991 during her last visit to the island, and was told, says
Esquiledo, that the government would "take care of it." But a subsequent letter to the Cubans asking for a definitive list of the
Lams held in the National Museums received no reply. In 1992 Lou Lam sought aid by founding the Association of the Friends of
Wifredo Lam (a similar name was subsequently adopted by the Cuban foundation), which included France's then minister of
foreign affairs, Roland Dumas (who is now being investigated for accepting bribes from the ELF petroleum company; he denies
all charges). The president of the Cuban group, a high-ranking official in the cultural bureaucracy named Alfredo Guevara, who
had known Lam in the 1950s, met with the Lams and Dumas in 1992 and, according to Esquiledo, "denied that there were fakes
in Cuba. He demanded proof. We showed him the proofs; we didn't give them to him. He said he'd look into it, and we've heard
nothing since."Dumas tried again in February 1993, writing to the Cuban ambassador in France that "a large share" of the fake
Lams in circulation "had undeniably left Cuba with the approval of certain customs and cultural authorities." But a month later,
the Socialist government in which Dumas served was routed at the polls, ending hopes of official action on the French side.
Whoever those corrupt officials were, according to Alex Rosenberg, they were not curators in the national museums. "There
are people who would do that, but not the museum people we're talking about," he says. Alejandro Alonso asserts of his
museum colleagues: "We are striving to promote what is real and authentic, not what is fake."However, there may be fewer
scruples, or less expertise, at lower levels of the bureaucracy. Pilar Fernández Prieto, director of the Museum of Fine Arts in
Havana, in response to a fax from ARTnews, admitted that "numerous forged authentication certificates are made" as a result
of "attempts to deceive the experts and to create confusion or doubt surrounding a particular piece." Tomás Sánchez says
flatly, "There are fakes of my works certified by specialists in Cuba. I'm sure they know the work isn't mine." (The simple fact
that a Sánchez was authenticated by a Cuban specialist could be cause for suspicion, according to Jorge Sorí "Sánchez has
always authenticated his own work," says Sorí. "No one else is authorized to do it.")If any Cuban agency is directly concerned
with the traffic in fakes, it is the Fondo de Bienes Culturales, which rules on the authenticity of artworks awaiting export.
Alejandro Alonso says that this institution wants "to prohibit the exportation of fakes, make sure they don't reenter the market,
either here or abroad." But Cuban law doesn't provide for the seizure of forged paintings that are brought to the agency for
expertise. "It would clearly be a good thing if it did," concedes Alonso. At present, the forgeries are simply returned to their
owners, who remain free to try their luck elsewhere.So far as Cernuda is concerned, declarations like Alonso's are evidence, at
best, of the powerlessness of the cultural bureaucracy against the traffic's protectors. "It's well known to the artistic
community in Cuba that they have a major problem with forgeries, and the ministry of culture may want to control or eliminate
it," says Cernuda. "But they're not doing it right—they're not doing anything they should be doing." They are afraid, Cernuda
charges, of opening a Pandora's box, "because the corruption is at a high level." None of the Cuban experts responded to
allegations of high-level government corruption.Ironically, as Alonso concedes, the Cuban government's own efforts to sell
artworks for hard currency through its authorized export galleries are now being compromised by fakes. One leading collector
says that he recently purchased two paintings purportedly by Tomás Sánchez through the Acacias gallery, and the gallery
refused to take the works back after they were denounced by the artist as forgeries. Cernuda comments that the Acacias staff
"have made mistakes that I know of regarding the authorship of some works. I know they've made mistakes with artists who
left the country years ago, like Cundo Bermúdez [who moved to Puerto Rico in 1967], artists where they have no experts." But
he doesn't believe the gallery knowingly sells fakes.But it's also true, as Alonso says, that "it's not a question of pointing fingers
at particular countries. Forgeries are made wherever there are unscrupulous people who have the means to do so." Juan
Martínez says he has seen fakes made in Mexico City, Venezuela, and Florida, judging from the provenances that accompany
them. Other sources report that high-quality forgeries are being made in Bogotá. This dispersion reflects the spread of the
Cuban diaspora, suggests Martínez. It has taken root, he says, "wherever there are Cubans, and wherever Cuban artists have
gone. When they have good academic training, as they did in Cuba, they have the potential to paint a forgery. For every one of
their masters, there are three or four people who can paint ‘in the manner of.’" The situation will continue, observers say, until
Cuba becomes an open society and the U.S. abandons its embargo of the island. The separation of the art market from crucial
sources of documentation and expertise inevitably gives forgers an advantage over their prospective customers. And in the
meantime, experienced people in the field advise, anyone seeking to buy Cuban art had best be very careful.Mark Hunter is an
award-winning journalist who lives in Paris. His most recent book, Un Américain au Front, was published by Stock last January.
Additional research and translation by Jeanne Miserendino.Photo credits: Faked certificate and fake Lam painting, courtesy
SDO Wifredo Lam (3); photograph of Lou Laurin Lam, Antonio Ruizo Arago; photograph of protest in Coral Gables, Jeffrey
Boan/Miami Herald; photograph of genuine Tomás Sánchez landscape, courtesy Christie's New York; photographs of the
withdrawn Carreño and the genuine Patio Colonial Cubano, courtesy Christie's New York.This article originally appeared in the
November 1998 edition of ARTnews. Permission to reproduce this article was granted by ARTnews and by Mark Hunter.  This
article is copyrighted ©1998 by Mark Hunter. All rights reserved.

La pintura es la más genuina de las expresiones plásticas del país. Su evolución no pudo seguir un proceso de desarrollo
coherente porque sus primeras expresiones, realizadas por los aborígenes en las cavernas, quedaron interrumpidas con la
desaparición de estas poblaciones. Con la conquista y evangelización predominó una pintura de corte religioso asociada a la
liturgia católica. No será hasta el siglo XIX, con la fundación de la Academia de San Alejandro (1818), que se comienza a gestar
en el país una pintura hecha por criollos, orientada a satisfacer el gusto europeo de la burguesía cubana. La Academia fue
creada por la Asociación Económica de Amigos del País, y su primer director fue el pintor de origen francés Jean Bautiste
Vermay. Hacia la década del 80 se produce una nueva tendencia de orientación en la pintura cubana, que tuvo como tema
principal el paisaje. Las figuras más importantes son Esteban Chartrand y Valentín Sanz Carta. Una pintura de corte
costumbrista tendrá sus más interesantes expresiones en la obra del vasco Victor Patricio de Landaluze. Pero el
academicismo seguía reinando en el ambiente plástico. La reacción vanguardista de los años 20 (siglo XX), inauguró un nuevo
momento en la pintura cubana. El movimiento moderno tuvo su primera y más importante exposición en 1927, auspiciada por
la Revista de Avance. Iniciadores de la vanguardia cubana fueron Eduardo Abela, Víctor Manuel, Antonio Gattorno y Carlos
Enríquez, entre otros. Los años que siguieron fueron de consolidación del movimiento moderno, lo que se manifestó en la
celebración del Primer Salón de Arte Moderno en 1937. Artistas jóvenes entonces indicaban ya un nuevo momento en al arte
cubano que se concretaría con la llamada Escuela de La Habana en la década del 40. Figuras como René Portocarrero, Amelia
Pélaez y Mariano Rodríguez forman parte de este movimiento. En 1942 regresa a Cuba Wifredo Lam, después de una larga
estancia en Europa y una experiencia de taller con Pablo Picasso. En 1943 Lam realiza la obra que lo ha inmortalizado "La
jungla", que fue adquirida por el MOMA de Nueva York. Con el triunfo de la revolución, el movimiento plástico se fortalece a
partir de la creación en 1962 de la Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas. Figuras muy importantes como Raúl Martínez y Antonia
Eiriz, integraron el claustro de profesores. Unos años más tarde, en 1976, se funda la Facultad de Artes Plásticas del Instituto
Superior de Arte. Obras de artistas como Roberto Fabelo, Zaida del Río, Tomás Sánchez, Manuel Mendive y Nelsón Domínguez,
conforman el patrimonio más importante de las últimas décadas. Hay que añadir nombres de artistas jóvenes como José
Bedia, Kcho y Flavio Garciandía que han ocupado un lugar privilegiado al frente de los nuevos caminos de la plástica. La pintura
cubana durante los últimos 30 años ha mostrado gran capacidad para asumir las influencias más importantes del arte
internacional con sentido propio y creativo, asumiendo al mismo tiempo, una postura crítica en sus temas, para continuar
definiendo así los rasgos de la identidad cubana.

La obra que inmortalizara a Wifredo Lam, "La jungla", se pintó originalmente en papel craft de envolver.
Wifredo Lam debe abandonar en Europa su residencia francesa ante el avance de las tropas nazis, y regresar a Cuba. Ya
desde París, el maestro Pablo Picasso lo estimulaba a desarrollar una expresión propia. Antes de llegar a la isla, Lam hace
algunas escales caribeñas: en Haití, y en Martinica. En este momento tiene aprendido ya lo mejor de la lección surrealista, la
apreciación europea de ciertas manifestaciones artísticas africanas y el ejercicio de las indagaciones plásticas. Y es en ese
momento propicio cuando la realidad antillana, que llevaba durante casi dos décadas en la memoria, se hace cosa vívida. De
1942 es su obra definitoria: La jungla. Esta obra, que hoy se exhibe en el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York, Lam la pinto
originalmente en papel craft de envolver, porque con palabras del propio artista "no tenía el dinero suficiente para comprar los
lienzos." La jungla es una obra de magia y misterio, a la vez de denuncia; es el espíritu del monte. Aun cuando los artistas e
intelectuales de Nueva York acogieron a Lam con gran simpatía y aprecio, el museo mostró poca comprensión de su obra.
Cuando James Johnson Sweeney adquirió La Jungla para el MOMA, se suscitó un verdadero escándalo que por poco le cuesta
a Sweeney el cargo de director del museo. En 1943 era inaudito que la obra de un americano que no fuera blanco entrara en la
colección, puesto que la muestra se concebía –y percibía- en especial, como la formulación de una experiencia americana no
blanca. Ese mismo año, Alejo Carpentier saluda a este cuadro como "una aportación trascendental al nuevo mundo de la
pintura americana (...) Lam comenzó a crear su atmósfera por medio de figuras en que lo humano, la animal, lo vegetal, se
mezclaban sin delimitaciones, animando un mundo de mitos primitivos, con algo ecuménicamente antillano, profundamente
atado no sólo al suelo de Cuba, sino al de todo el rosario de la isla". Tan pronto como partió de Cuba hacia el continente,
Wifredo Lam tuvo que enfrentarse a la discriminación racial en numerosas y humillantes formas: lo expulsaron de hoteles y
estudios, le negaron la entrada a restaurantes y bares, y hasta en los establecimientos humildes adonde él iba con sus amigos
pobres. Todo esto contribuyó a marginar a Wifredo Lam del grupo de artistas de Nueva York y, al morir Arshile Gorky en 1948,
sintió que ya nada lo ataba a esa ciudad. En 1947, Wifredo Lam regresó a Europa, y de inmediato comenzó a cooperar
estrechamente con los vanguardistas. El grupo de artistas daneses, holandeses y belgas acogió su obra con gran entusiasmo;
en 1948 formaron el grupo COBRA. Los artistas de COBRA consideraron a Lam el "maestro", e incluso lo designaron
embajador artístico de Cuba. La contribución de Wifredo Lam al arte contemporáneo aún no se puede medir con exactitud,
aunque numerosos estudios de investigadores comienzan a situar al artista cubano como uno de los más influyentes en el
desarrollo de la plástica americana en la segunda mitad de este siglo.

The first historical witnesses
The first signs come from cave painting: later testimonials were the cartographies of the island, combined with impressions
and myths developed by the chroniclers. Along the long historic path, the mural paintings executed, in the most part
anonymously, on the interior and exterior of houses from the colonial period must be mentioned. On the basis of their character
and craftsmanship, they have to be labeled "folk art". Natural pigments and some inferior quality colors were used, and the
later the paintings were executed, the more complex and higher quality the techniques.

Cape paintings in Cave Number 1, "Punta del Este", Isla de la Juventud.
The 15th and 16th centuries
Unlike the other Latin American colonies, the island during the 15th and 16th centuries was very poor and neglected
economically and therefore also of little significance culturally. Foreign artists streamed to Cuba, the "key to the New World",
and a great number of paintings were brought from Spain to furnish chapels and churches. With the appearance of the names
of the panel painters Juan Camargo and Juan de Salas y Argüillo, it is evident that the art of carving figures of saints had not yet
been replaced by painting. In the course of the following century the island began to blossom due to the fleets which put in on
their route taking treasures from Mexico to Spain. Military might shared power with the clerics, who, concerned with the
furnishing and adornment of the churches, promoted the making of copies of religious works imported from the metropolis,
without showing any interest in the actual creation of any such works. Art had a cult function before it became an expression of
the culture in any real sense. Only a few works from these distant years have survived to the present. There are only very
imprecise references in documents, so that a large number of anonymous works exist today, and an equally long list of
unknown artists.
Ancient map of the Island of Cuba by Pieter Vander.         Vignette of a map showing parts of Western America and Cuba, by
Hyeronymi Benzoni, engraving by Theodoro de Bry, 1514.
The Colonial Period (especially the 18th and 19th centuries)In the colonial period, (which historically spans four centuries), only
the 18th and above all the 19th centuries are significant in terms of the creation of Cuban art. Francisco Javier Báez is the first
Cuban graphic artist who, in addition to religious themes, also designed drawings for tobacco and cigar brands in xylography (a
technique which was introduced to Cuba in 1723). Foreign graphic artists and illustrators, above all French, came to the island
and depicted landscapes, customs and places in the form of albums. The graphic arts, besides their artistic value, were the
only means of honestly depicting the events and their consequences, including folklore. The first graphic document on the
Toma de la Habana (The capture of Havana) by the English was made by Dominique Serres in the year 1762. The lithographic
publication was made one year later in France. The six views of the town, realized by the North American Elías Durnford
between 1764 and 1765, form the precursors of the Cuban Scenes by foreign artists in the 19th century. Towards the end of the
18th century the Cuban cultural panorama changed as a result of developments achieved so far, which were mainly due to the
growth in the sugar industry, which was decisive in the involvement of the country in industrial capital. These were the times of
enlightenment.... The Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País (Economic Society of the Friends of the Country) was founded,
schools and universities multiplied, the public library was expanded and advertisements by teachers of art and portrait painters
appeared in the press. In its origins, painting bore a mystical and religious character before it became aristocratic or popular. It
was regarded as a profitable activity, as a profession. The artists were mulattos or blacks - self-taught people who exchanged
lessons with each other; they were regarded as craftsmen. José Nicolás de la Escalera y Domínguez is the first Cuban painter,
with the exception of Tadeo Chirino from Santiago, who, although sixteen years younger, developed a work with more
inaccuracies and primitivism. Escalera painted the picture of a negro slave in the mural paintings of the church of Santa María
del Rosario for the first time. The native painters and pre-academicians, Juan del Río and Vicente Escobar y de Flores, favored
religious and portrait painting (Captain Generals, aristocrats), in the style of European and above all Spanish paintings, which
are based on callowness, great coldness and courtly stiffness. Escobar, the mulatto, who bought his title as a white man and
was appointed royal Court Artist by the Spanish Queen, characterized the transition from the 18th to the 19th century.
Autor: Esteban ChartrandTítulo: "El Baile"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 28 x 38 cmAño: 1879
This last century is characterized by the boom in the sugar industry and the growing slave trade, combined with the
concomitant rise of the native bourgeoisie and their search for representative appearance. The number of portraits
commissioned, which displaced the earlier aristocratic portraits, increased. In about 1805 the bishop, Juan José Díaz de
Espada y Landa, patron of science and art, entrusted the Italian, José Perovani, one of the foreign artists, who influenced Cuban
art, with the frescoes of the Cathedral of Havana. This cleric and the intendant Alejandro Ramírez were the protagonists of the
greatest cultural events of this period. In 1818 they founded the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, in order to win back
painting from the hands of blacks and mulattos. This, the second academy in the Americas, after San Carlos in Mexico, had as
its first director the Frenchman and pupil of the Master David, Juan Bautiste Vermay, who came to the country to continue the
work of Perovanis. His main artistic work was the creation of the paintings in Templete. These represent the first Mass
celebrated on that spot, the first Cabildo (local council) and the consecration of the small temple. The style of painting taught on
the island reflected European trends which were already decades old.        Autor: J.B. VermayTítulo: "Familia Manrique de Lara"
Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 190 x 150 cm  
Autor: Arburu Morell, J. FranciscoTítulo: "La familia González de Mendoza"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 90,5 x 159,5 cm          
The Academy proposed a method of representation, a particular ideal of beauty, a range of subjects. It supported the hedonistic
sense of art, mimesis, and timelessness and in addition carried responsibility for the public, state and social orientation of
culture. The realization of these ideals was far removed from contemporary reality, which only allowed representation with non-
dominant discussions, as for example by means of caricature and illustration. Neoclassicism, the first form of expression
adopted, lent the pictures a historical, mythological and allegorical context. Oil painting, the most traditional of all artistic
techniques, was moderately cultivated. After the death of Juan Bautiste Vermay, the Academy was headed for a short time by
the Cuban, Camilo Cuyás, the foreigners, Guillermo Francisco Colson, Juan Bautista Leclerc de Baume, Pierre - Frederic Mialhe
Toussaint, Hércules Morelli, Augusto Ferrán, Fracisco Cisnero Gerrero and then the Cuban Miguel Melero Rodríguez. There
followed mainly a French-Italian sequence of successors until the permanent presence of Meleros, the first Cuban Director in
the last five years of the century, which coincided with the halcyon days of the Academy in Cuba. From this time onwards the
directorship was to remain firmly in Cuban hands. This is the starting point for continuity in national painting. New initiatives and
changes, such as the admission of women to the Academy, for example, at a time when no other institution offered this
opportunity, first appeared under the leadership of this master. Besides his many paintings, he created the picture on the main
altar of the chapel at the Cementerio Colón (cemetery). In this century graphic art is represented by Leonardo Barañano,
Hipolito Garneray, Eduardo Laplante and also Federico Mialhe , whose three albums "Scenic Walk", "Picturesque Island of
Cuba" and "The Island of Cuba" form the most complete graphic report. Small lithographic editions, linked to trade and
advertisements, appeared from 1822 onwards following the founding of a workshop The brand bands of cigarillos and cigars
were produced with great figurative display using lithography. They were the main driving force behind the development, growth
and boom in this technique.
National painting in the 19th century
National painting began to take shape from the mid 19th century onward. Taste and the appreciation of painting developed in
Cuba at the same pace as the intellectual environment of the island was infused with new activities. In the political field the
voices of Félix Varela, Tomás Gener, José Antonio Saco and Betancourt Cisneros were to be heard with predictions of freedom.
At the same time other intellectuals sowed the seeds of native culture, amongst them Don José de la Luz y Caballero, Domingo
del Monte y José María Heredia should be mentioned. Romanticism made its appearance in the paintings of this era with
landscape paintings, influenced by the French schools of Barbizon and Fontainebleau, or by the North American school of
Hudson River. Esteban Chartrand and Valentin Sanz Carta are examples of two opposing points of view, the former, a Cuban of
French descent, created nostalgic and idealized landscapes bathed in twilight, in which the Cuban element of bohíos
(farmhouses), ingenios (sugar factories) and palms can be recognized, and the latter, a Cuban from the Canaries, offered a
more direct and realistic landscape flooded with tropical light. Amongst the landscape painters, the Belgian Henry Clennewerck
and the Cuban Federico Fernández Cavada should be mentioned. At this time the genre painting of Juana Borrero, José Joaquín
Tejada and Victor Patricio Landaluze emerged. The latter is mainly known for the large plastic and documentary value of his
works. He worked in watercolors and oils, lending the pictures the transparency and luminosity of watercolor paintings. He also
cultivated political caricatures, expressing in his pictures, as no other artist did, the Creole element with a fitting sense of
observation, quality and fine humor. In the era of official academicism, which extended into the first decade of the 20th century,
Juan Jorge Peoli, José Arburu y Morell, and Miguel Angel Melero deserve mention, as well as Guillermo Collazo Tejada; a
controversial figure because of his separatist ideas in the field of politics and his dedication to conservative French painting in
the field of art. The name of the incredible portrait painter, Federico Martínez Matos from Santiago, has to be included, whose
entry to the Academy was doubted and whose unique work combines Spanish realism and Italian idealism. After their return
from Europe, Armando García Menocal and Leopoldo Romañach Guillén contributed to the cultural renewal which found its
positive aspect, favored by the new era, the new rulers, and the reorganization of education started under the North American
occupation. They were appointed to teaching posts at the Academy, where they taught generations of Cuban artists. Menocal,
who made sketches for an epic Cuban painting during his participation in the wars of independence, influenced the orientation
of the first new artists of the Republic: Manuel Vega, Esteban Valderrama y de la Peña, Pastor Argudai … Romañach, on the
other hand, is recognized as one of the most able professors in the development of Cuban art, after Juan Bautiste Vermay and
Miguel Melero; a master of avant-gardism, which replaced decadent romanticism with naturalism, he worked with live models,
taking as a pretext the portrait, in which the psychological representation of the model is of no interest. Both are recognized as
artists who ended the 19th century with the highest repute, and who led Cuba into the 20th century and the transition to modern
painting. Valderrama, Domingo Ramos and Romañach completed the mural paintings of the Aula Magna, [University of Havana],
adhering to academicism, whilst the modernists took their first steps.
At the beginning of the 20th century
The commercialization of art did not begin until after 1916, with the Salon de Bellas Artes. Prior to that, the portrait represented
a two-sided relationship, history was linked more to the state, and the allegorical was attributable to education. There were no
real exhibition rooms available to graduates, only the Academy itself and exhibitions which were organized in the Pabellon de
Educación in the Quinta de Molinos existed as channels of distribution. The regional Spanish centers: Asturian, Canarian and
Galician, were exhibition venues for Spanish artists and it was not until the 20th century, with the formation of the Republic and
the participation of the Catalonians, that these institutions developed into symbols of power. As a result cultural institutions
such as the Atheneum and the Academy for Art and Literature (1910) developed with private support. The Asociación de
Pintores y Escultores cubanos was founded to defend the work of Cuban artists against foreign ones, and to organize the
annual Salón de Bellas Artes.


Autor: Víctor Manuel
Título: "Gitana Tropical"
Técnica: óleo / tela
Dimensiones: 46.5 x 38 cm
Año: 1929
Ubicación: Museo Nacional de Cuba, Habana
Autor: Eduardo Abela
Título: "El triunfo de la Rumba"
Técnica: óleo / tela
Dimensiones: 65 x 54 cm
Año: 1928
Autor: Carlos EnríquezTítulo: "El Rapto de las Mulatas"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 162.4 x 114.5 cmAño: 1938Ubicación:
Museo Nacional de Cuba, Habana         Whilst the peninsular sector enjoyed Spanish painting, the ruling oligarchy mainly
invested in foreign models, in that production which was dedicated to their cultural style of life. The nouveau riche, indebted to
the sugar boom after the first world war, were attracted to the works of representation, led by the proportions of the picture
and its frame, but not by its craftsmanship. It was justly the intellectuals and the educated class who preferred Cuban
production. At the beginning of the twenties a new generation of intellectuals surfaced in the conflict-ridden political and social
panorama. The magazine Avances (1927) was the fundamental place to accommodate new ideas and artistic debate. Later it
was to be the publications Verbum (1930), Espuela de Plata (1940) and Orígenes (in the fifties). In 1937 forward-thinking artists
founded the Estudio Libre de Pintura y Escultura, promoting such fields of art as wood carving and mural painting which had
been neglected by the Academy, and the "First Salon of Modern Art" was inaugurated. As in any avant-garde movement, the
artists tried to transform society through culture. The revolution in sculptural art, introduced in Europe by Cezanne, Gauguin,
van Gogh …, with the modern - ism , appeared in Cuba with a delay of two decades. Those of this period who were to become
masters of modern Cuban art drew inspiration from these sources and from Mexican mural painting, until a personal and
deeply Cuban work was created.
Autor: Antonio GattornoTítulo: "¿Quieres más café, Don Nicolas?"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 120 x 100.5 cmAño:
1936Ubicación: Museo Nacional de Cuba, Habana
This was a national art of renewal and anti-academic solutions. Portrait and landscape subjects demanded a return to
significance in their own right and were created using other artistic techniques, with the exception of oil on canvas. In his
watercolors and sketches ("painted caricatures" which were not regarded as paintings), Rafael Blanco presented himself as a
pioneer in the search for new forms of expression and as a forerunner in the Cuban artistic avant-garde. The developments,
parallel to the academic but not dominating, are those in which modernity could most easily be introduced: in the press, in
caricatures (Torriente and Massaguer the main representatives) and in graphic designs on the title pages of journals (in the
twenties the Revista Social was prominent). It must also be pointed out that serigraphy had been employed from time to time in
Cuba since the beginning of the century. This contemporary printing technique was originally used mainly for graphic -
publishing and industrial - applications, and its introduction to Cuba (about 1910) was one of the first in the world. Amongst the
forerunners of the Cuban avant-garde Victor Manuel deserves particular mention, testing new forms from the basis of the
figurative and bequeathing a symbol in the history of Cuban art with his picture "La Gitana Tropical". In the third decade, modern
art in Cuba finally became consolidated. This is the first moment of the turning point in Cuban painting, uniting the intimism of
Antonio Gattornos; the Guajiros [farmers] of Eduardo Abelas; the sensuality of Carlos Enriquez, the sociopolitical criticisms of
Marcelo, the drama of an artistic world, the despair and agony of Fidelio Ponce; the African roots of our culture emphasized by
Wifredo Lam and the still life, combined with elements of Cuban architecture of Amelia Pelaez. Also belonging to this group are
Arístides Fernández, further removed from the general trends but with similar stimulus; Jorge Arche with his personalization of
the subject of the portrait, and also Mariano Rodríguez, whose works are distinguished by their chromatic depiction.; René
Portocarrero and the interiors from the colonial period, and other names such as Mirta Cerra, Roberto Diago and José Mijares.
The 40s and 50s
The 40s and 50s mark the second moment in Cuban sculpture. In this process of the continued modernization of art, a new
avant-garde developed; this time coinciding with trends in international art which was no longer focused on Europe but on North
America. Abstractionism arrived in the country and provoked the Contrabienale of 1953. The aforementioned artists adapted
their work to these new influences. Raúl Martínez founded the group Los 11 (Group of Eleven), the abstract Informalists, and
then the Concrete artists, independent creative artists who engaged in geometric abstraction: Sandú Darié, Salvador Corratgé,
Luis Martínez Pedró, Loló Soldevilla and Pedro de Oraá. The masters Antonia Eiriz and Servando Cabrera Moreno turned their
attention gradually to Expressionism, along with Orlando Llanes. Despite his early death, Angel Acosta León plays an important
role in the development of Surrealism.

Autor: Wilfredo LamTítulo: "La Silla"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 131 x 97.5 cmAño: 1943Ubicación: Museo Nacional de
Cuba, Habana        Autor: Marcelo PogolottiTítulo: "El Alba"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 81,5 x 101 cm
Autor: Antonio GattornoTítulo: "Sorrentine Dancer"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 121.6 x 83 cmAño: 1948         In the forties
Cuban serigraphy, in connection with political posters, enjoyed the widest and most comprehensive distribution of all times.
The merging of serigraphy and the poster form created a poster art with its own characteristics, which became obvious from
1943 through film posters in particular (due to the boom in Mexican and Argentinean films); a serigraphic link which continues
without interruption to the present. Parallel to this, serigraphic uses continue on a wide variety of mediums: card, paper,
material, wood.... for publication and industrial purposes. This method underwent a notable development at the end of the
forties, reaching its pinnacle in the fifties, a period in which spontaneous excursions of qualitative relevance occur in art
serigraphy.
Autor: Arístides FernándezTítulo: "Lavanderas"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 86.5 x 97 cmAño: Sin fechaUbicación: Museo
Nacional de Cuba, Habana
Cuban art of the previous four decades represents the revolutionary period, its continuity and the completion of a process of
maturing. The sixties encouraged heterogeneity, plurality and freedom of expression, optimism and trust in order to emphasize
the changes taking place in the country. The serigraphic heritage was adopted by the revolution in the first few months of 1959,
adding new content, values and projections in the ideological and cultural fields. The graphic arts experienced an extraordinary
boom through the poster art of the ICAIC (Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica = Cuban Institute for Cinematic
Art and Industry),. Despite a substantial lack of material means, it achieved results of special significance with regard to
expressive, esthetic, iconographic, formal, chromatic and technological aspects. Humorous drawings, based on everyday
realities, developed along broad lines. The Cuban life style formed the actual basis of humorism, harking back to the previous
century, the anti-colonial period and the time after the founding of the Republic in 1902.         

Autor: Servando Cabrera MorenoTítulo: "Milicias campesinas"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 140 x 200 cmAño: 1962        
Autor: Mariano RodríguezTítulo: "El sari blanco"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 125 x 97 cm
Adigio Benítez and Carmelo Sobrino place peasants and workers at the center of their pictures; Raúl Martínez the heroes and
the other artists deal with themes from their own specific realities. The masters of that remarkable generation, such as
Servando Cabrera, Mariano Rodríguez, René Protocarrero, Amelia Pelaez, Wifredo Lam …. continue their work, reinforcing
particular nuances in their themes and styles. In doing so they always occupy a prominent place in Cuban art, which, like the
international movement too, is concerned with figuration. Antonia Eiriz left a permanent impression on many of the early
graduates of the Escuela Nacional de Arte (National School of Art). Most of the graduates were of peasant stock and they were
the ones who, in the following years, were to stimulate artistic developments.

Autor: Servando Cabrera MorenoTítulo: "Héroes bajo el Sol"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 81,5 x 111,8 cmAño: 1959        
Autor: René PortocarreroTítulo: "Santa Barbara"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 20 x 16 cm

The decade of the 70s
The decade of the 70s was a time when sketches and graphic art flourished, represented by: Roberto Fabelo, Pedro Pablo
Oliva, Zaida del Río, Nelson Domínguez, Eduardo Roca (Choco) … Pop, integrated in a political-cultural framework, makes its
appearance in the works of Raúl Martínez. Humberto Peña also presents a personal concept of this trend and, like José Luis
Posada and Santiago Chago Armada was an important forerunner of the following generation. Alfredo Sosabravo was notable
in this period for his particular sense of humor; Manuel Mendive for the subject, Afro, and a deliberate Primitivism; Ever Fonseca
through the treatment of popular Cuban mythology and Flora Font through peasants´ legends. The Photorealism of Thomas
Sánchez, César Leal, Nélida López, Gilberto Frómeta, Aldo Menéndez and Flavio Garciandía was prominent in the seventies
through the adaptation of the themes of Cuban society to this language.

Autor: Mariano RodríguezTítulo: "Gallo con flores"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 99.7 x 121.7 cmAño: 1979        Autor: Tomás
SánchezTítulo: "Antes de la Tormenta"Técnica: acrílico / telaDimensiones: 25.4 x 38.1 cmAño: 1987
In the following years a network of cultural institutions developed offering specialized exhibitions. In 1963 a studio for
serigraphy was installed in the UNEAC (Cuban Association of Writers and Artists) and in 1979 the Casas de las Américas
organized a workshop where the works of Cuban and Latin American artists could be duplicated using serigraphy. However, it
was not until 1983, with the foundation of the Taller Experimental de Serigrafía René Portocarrero that serigraphy became the
method of duplication preferred by artists for the reproduction of their works, leading to a veritable boom in artistic serigraphy.
The eighties mark the third turning point in our artistic production and a peak in the heyday of Cuban sculpture. A new
generation of visual artists from the Instituto Superior de Arte (College of Art) were the driving force; for them artistic creation
signified a cognoscitive, probing and intellectual motivation, in harmony with the times of "Desecularization" of art and in a time
of the predominance of orthodox and schematic thought in national reality, against which the artist expresses his
dissatisfaction. An emancipatory movement combining the hopes of the old avant-garde, and which causes a factor of non-
communication between the artistic and the institutional sector to appear, is also a transgressing, desanctifying movement ,
which, in its language and poetry, integrates with the present Postmodernism. In general outlines the historic-political
interpretation is reinforced by the analysis of historical values and patriotic symbols; the specific values of art are emphasized
and appropriation is adopted, installations, ready mode, conceptual and factual, as well as ephemeral art: Happenings and
Performance (the groups Puré and Arte Calle). The visual communication of folk art, kitsch, jokes, anthropological and nature-
encompassing considerations, myths, the native element of our culture and the identity of Latin America and the third world
have been adopted. New themes emerge, painting and other branches of artistic creation exchange relationships with each
other, with the greatest possible freedom of technique, with mixed techniques preferred in many cases. The exhibition Volume I
gives an impetus to expressing this new sensitivity. José Bedia and Ricardo Rodríguez Brey are seeking the roots of their
native culture; José Toirac, Juan Ballester, Tanya Angulo and Ileana Villazón are reflecting on art. Rubén Torres Llorca and also
Flabio Garciandía take folk art and its relationship to politics as their reference; Lázaro Saavedra deals with ideology, art and
religion with great humor; Reynerio Tamayo follows the same lines by using humor against criticism and Ciro Quintana
exercises criticism through Cuban humor. Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas handles themes which appear problematic in their
contemporary context: tourism, emigration, the mystification of political elements; Glexis Novoa creates visual works and
installations, which allude to the values honored by political propaganda, René Francisco and Eduardo Ponjuán express the void
of the postulates of socialist realism. Humberto Castro, Gustavo Acosta, Segundo Planes, Ana Alberina Delgado, Lázaro García ,
Félix Suazo, Leandro Soto, Arturo Cuenca, Luis Gómez, Gustavo Pérez Monzón and Consuelo Castañeda, are only a few of the
names in a long list which have for many years drawn attention to the diversity of the panorama of contemporary Cuban
sculpture and the difficulty of identifying any common characteristics, other than that of diversity itself.
The emancipation of the 80s
In the 80s, emancipation had been researched and announced in terms of collective approaches. In the present decade it is
difficult to form groups for the very reason that it is a time of individualism and subjectivism. The openness and flexibility of
power makes diversity possible. The generation of the 70s remains latent and, together with well-known names, a whole series
or younger artists appear, amongst whom are: Pedro Alvarez with his observations on the conquest and his island world;
Sandra Ramos with her poetics on exile; Fernando Rodríguez, who works in polychromatic wood, in order to be a speaker for
the blind artist Franciso de la Cal; Osvaldo Yero and his symbols in multicolored plaster, as well as Esterio Segura with his
sculptures - altars, where pictures of all types and characters, alternating with sketches and metal engravings, meet.. Douglas
Pérez, Aimee García, Rubén Alpízar, Elsa Mora and many others, and in alternative positions an even longer list of even greater
diversity of forms of expression, emphasize opinions which assert the prestige of sculpture in Cuba. There is even a risk that,
by naming a few, others may be offended at being excluded. As the change to esthetic painting became consolidated - the best
example being Los Carpinteros, - without, however, completely supplanting the spirit of the installations, pre-conceptualism
and the "ephemeral art" which characterized the 80s, and other ballast of previous decades, some of the forms of this era fuse
together. In previous years the postmodernist language took over from the Modern the will of the avant-garde to transform
society by means of art. But today this biting and hurtful criticism is balanced by irony, indirectness, a language full of
conceptual and formal sharp-wittedness. In graphic art, the figure of Belkis Ayóns. who has been outstanding for several years,
is now joined by Abel Barrosos, an innovator in the use of wood-block as a medium, breaking through the two-dimensional by
constructing objects around which slogans of Cuban reality circle, announcing a glory at the end which, to a great extent, is
created by the opportunities presented by the existence of the experimental workshops.

Autor: Pedro Pablo OlivaTítulo: "Alicia las tetas y una naranja"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 116.2 x 105 cmAño: 1992        
Autor: Roberto FabeloTítulo: "Sirena en el muro del malecón"Técnica: óleo / telaDimensiones: 81 x 96 cmAño: 1998
Cuban art is the focus in different contexts: the past because of the protagonism of many of its figures; present day art
because perhaps in the high artistic consciousness of each creator, transcending the anecdotal, the descriptive and the
superficial, lies his power and his principal interest.

Páginas
Historia del arte en Cuba
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Página 4
Página 1 de 4La pintura , el dibujo y el grabado cubano, marcados por su enorme pujanza, riqueza y singularidad, han trazado
una línea creciente en su devenir. Los primeros testimonios históricos Las primeras señales fueron emitidas por la pintura
rupestre aborigen, luego por las cartografías de la Isla salidas de manos europeas, unidas a las impresiones y mitos
desarrollados por los cronistas. En su largo historiar, resulta imprescindible apuntar la realización de pinturas murales en
interiores y exteriores de las casas coloniales, catalogadas de populares por sus características y calidad artesanal,
anónimas en su mayoría. Se emplearon pigmentos naturales y algunos colorantes de poca calidad, y mientras más antiguas
fueron, mayor elaboración y complejidad presentaron en su técnica.Los siglos XV y XVI Durante los siglos XV y XVI la Isla se
halla, en contraste con otras colonias latinoamericanas, en extrema pobreza económica y abandono, y por consiguiente
endeble culturalmente. A la "Llave del Nuevo Mundo" afluyen artistas extranjeros; abundantes cuadros son traídos de España
para ambientar capillas de iglesias. Cuando se encuentran los nombres de los pintores de retablos, Juan Camargo y Juan de
Salas y Argüillo, la imaginería no había sido sustituida aún por la pintura. En el siglo siguiente, la Isla comienza a prosperar con
las escalas de las flotas encargadas de llevar los tesoros de México a España. La fuerza militar comparte poderes de
dominación con el clero que, preocupado por la erección y la decoración de los templos, promueve la realización de copias de
los modelos religiosos importados de la Metrópoli, sin interesarles la obra de creación. El arte entonces, antes de ser
expresión de la cultura propiamente, estuvo en función del culto. Al presente no ha llegado trabajo alguno correspondiente a
estos años, sólo alusiones documentales muy vagas, de manera que existe hoy una gran cantidad de obra anónima y
simultáneamente una numerosa lista de pintores desconocidos.  La época colonial (específicamente los siglos XVIII y XIX)
Aunque históricamente la época colonial abarca cuatro siglos, sólo resultan importantes para dichas manifestaciones el siglo
XVIII y sobre todo el XIX. Francisco Javier Báez es el primer grabador cubano cultivador de temas religiosos, quien realiza
también diseños para marquillas de cigarros y tabacos en xilografía (técnica introducida en Cuba en 1723). Grabadores y
dibujantes extranjeros, fundamentalmente franceses, vienen a la Isla y recrean a modo de álbum paisaje, costumbres y
lugares. El grabado, además de sus valores artísticos, se presenta como el único modo de recoger testimonialmente los
hechos y sus consecuencias, incluyendo signos de lo popular. El primer documento gráfico vinculado a la Toma de La Habana
por los ingleses lo realiza Dominique Serres en 1762. Su edición litográfica es efectuada en Francia al año siguiente. Las seis
vistas de la ciudad hechas por el norteamericano Elías Durnford en 1764 - 1765 constituyen el antecedente en las Escenas de
Cuba de los grabados extranjeros del siglo XIX. A finales del XVIII cambia el panorama cultural cubano, reflejo del desarrollo
económico alcanzado, debido principalmente al azúcar que decide la incorporación del país al capital industrial. Corren los
tiempos de la Ilustración... Se crea la Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País, se multiplican las escuelas y universidades, se
amplía la Biblioteca Pública y comienzan a aparecer en la prensa anuncios de profesores de dibujo y pintores retratistas. La
pintura en sus orígenes empieza siendo mística y religiosa antes que aristocrática y popular. Es concebida como una actividad
utilitaria, un oficio. Sus artífices, mulatos y negros autodidactas que intercambian lecciones entre sí, son considerados
artesanos. Se plantea que José Nicolás de la Escalera y Domínguez es el primer cubano que lleva la imagen del negro esclavo
a la pintura en los murales de la Iglesia de Santa María del Rosario, con la excepción del santiaguero Tadeo Chirino, diecisiete
años más joven que él, quien desarrolla una obra con mayores incorrecciones y primitivismo. Los pintores criollos
preacadémicos Juan del Río y Vicente Escobar y de Flores, cultivan la pintura religiosa y la retratística (capitanes generales,
aristocracia), imitadora de esquemas europeos, especialmente españoles, con algunas imperfecciones y una gran frialdad y
rigidez protocolar. Escobar, aquel mulato que compró su título de blanco y fue declarado por la Reina de España Pintor de la
Real Cámara, marca el tránsito del XVIII al XIX. Este último siglo, representado por el auge de la industria azucarera y el
incremento de la trata negrera, significa el resplandor de la burguesía criolla y por lo tanto la búsqueda de la representatividad.
Se incrementa entonces el número de encargo de retratos que desplazan los retratos aristocráticos anteriores. El obispo Juan
José Díaz de Espada y Landa, mecenas de la ciencia y el arte, le encomienda hacia 1805 los frescos de la Catedral de La
Habana al italiano José Perovani, uno de los artistas extranjeros que influye en la actividad pictórica cubana. Este obispo y el
intendente Alejandro Ramírez son los protagonistas del mayor acontecimiento cultural de la época; crean la Academia
Nacional de Bellas Artes en 1818 para rescatar la pintura de las manos de los negros y mulatos. Esta, la segunda academia de
América después de San Carlos de México, tiene como primer director al francés Juan Bautista Vermay, discípulo del maestro
David, quien arriba al país para continuar la obra de Perovani y que como obra cumbre realiza los murales del Templete que
representan la primera misa celebrada en aquel lugar, el primer cabildo y la inauguración de este pequeño templo. Son las
tendencias pictóricas europeas las que se enseñan en nuestra isla que arriban al país con décadas de retraso. La academia
propone una metodología para la representación un determinado ideal de belleza, una escala temática; aboga por el sentido
hedonista del arte, el mimetismo, la atemporalidad y responde a la cultura oficial, estatal y de proyecciones sociales. Sus
realizaciones se hallan alejadas de las contingencias epocales, las que sólo en los discursos no dominantes como la
caricatura y la ilustración pueden expresarse. El neoclasicismo, el primero de los lenguajes incorporados, añade los cuadros
de asunto histórico, mitológico y alegórico. El óleo, de entre todas las técnicas pictóricas la más tradicional, es justamente la
cultivada. A la muerte de Juan Bautista Vermay le suceden en la dirección de la academia por un período efímero el cubano
Camilo Cuyás, los extranjeros Guillermo Francisco Colson, Juan Bautista Leclerc de Baume, Pierre - Frederic Mialhe Toussaint,
Hércules Morelli, Augusto Ferrán, Francisco Cisneros Guerrero y luego el cubano Miguel Melero Rodríguez. El núcleo es
fundamentalmente franco - italiano hasta la presencia sostenible de Melero, primer cubano, director durante el último lustro de
siglo, precisamente en el momento de mayor realce de la academia en Cuba. A partir de él la dirección no cesará de estar en
manos cubanas. Es este el punto de inicio para la línea de continuidad de la producción pictórica nacional. Nuevas iniciativas y
cambios, como la posibilidad de la entrada de la mujer a la academia cuando aún no había sucedido en ninguna otra, tienen
lugar en el período de dirección de este maestro. Además de sus muchos lienzos realiza el mural del altar mayor de la capilla
del Cementerio de Colón. En este siglo el grabado es representado por Leonardo Barañano, Hipolito Garneray, Eduardo
Lapalante, además de Federico Mialhe, cuyos tres álbumes: Paseo pintoresco, Isla de Cuba pintoresca e Isla de Cuba
constituyen el reportaje gráfico completo. Pequeñas ediciones litográficas vinculadas al comercio y los anuncios, comienzan a
realizarse a partir de la constitución del taller en 1822. A través de la litografía se editan con gran despliegue figurativo las
marquillas de cigarros y tabacos, causa fundamental de la promoción, crecimiento y auge de esta técnica.
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Página 2 de 4 La pintura nacional del siglo XIX A partir de mediados del siglo XIX comienza el proceso de formación de la
pintura nacional. Se van gestando el gusto y la estimación de la pintura en Cuba una vez que empieza a poblarse de nuevas
aspiraciones el ambiente espiritual de la Isla. En lo político, se escuchan premoniciones de libertad en las voces del Padre
Varela, Tomás Gener, José Antonio Saco, Betancourt Cisneros a la par que otros intelectuales esparcen la semilla de una
cultura autóctona, entre ellos, Don José de la Luz y Caballero, Domingo del Monte y José María Heredia. En la pintura de esta
etapa se incorpora el romanticismo a través del género paisajístico, influido por las escuelas francesas de Barbizon y
Fontainebleau o la escuela norteamericana del Río Hudson. Esteban Chartrand y Valentin Sanz Carta ejemplifican dos
versiones contrapuestas; el primero, cubano de ancestro francés, realiza un paisajísmo de luz crepuscular, nostálgica,
idealizada, a través de la cual se distinguen elementos cubanos como bohíos, ingenios y palmas; y el otro, canario cubanizado,
nos entrega un paisaje más directo, realista, penetrado de luces tropicales. Entre los paisajistas están también el belga Henry
Clennewerck y el cubano Federico Fernández Cavada. En este tiempo aparece además la pintura costumbrista de Juana
Borrero, José Joaquín Tejada y Víctor Patricio Landaluze, este último el más nombrado por su obra de grandes valores en lo
plástico y lo documental. Trabaja la acuarela y el óleo, confiriéndole la transparencia y luminosidad de la pintura al agua y
cultiva la caricatura política expresando como nadie lo criollo con un certero sentido de observación, de calidad y de fino
humor costumbrista. En el academicismo oficial, que se extiende hasta los dos primeros lustros del siglo XX, se destacan
Juan Jorge Peoli, José Arburu y Morell, Miguel Angel Melero y también Guillermo Collazo Tejada, figura contradictoria por
practicar ideas separatistas en lo político y ser tributario de la pintura conservadora francesa en lo artístico. No podía faltar el
nombre del increíble retratista santiaguero Federico Martínez Matos de quien se duda su ingreso a la Academia, y que
desarrolla una obra peculiar por las mezclas de realismo español e idealismo italiano. Armando García Menocal y Leopoldo
Romañach Guillén, al regresar de Europa, sirven a la renovación cultural que los nuevos tiempos y los nuevos gobernantes
propician y que tuvo su aspecto positivo en la reorganización pedagógica iniciada por la ocupación norteamericana. Son
llamados a desempeñar sendas cátedras en la academia educando a generaciones de pintores cubanos. Menocal, quien en su
participación en las guerras de independencia tomó apuntes para una pintura épica cubana, influye en la orientación de los
primeros artistas nuevos de la República: Manuel Vega, Esteban Valderrama y de la Peña, Pastor Argudai ...Por otro lado,
Romañach, después de Juan Bautista Vermay y Miguel Melero, ha sido considerado el profesor más eficaz de nuestra
evolución artística, maestro de la vanguardia, que desplaza el romanticismo decadente por el naturalismo, trabaja con el
modelo vivo y asume el retrato como un pretexto en el que no importa la representación psicológica del modelo. Tanto uno
como otro son considerados los que con más relieve culminan el siglo XIX e inician el XX, siendo ellos la transición que da
paso a la pintura moderna en Cuba. Valderrama, Domingo Ramos y Romañach en la persistencia del academicismo realizan
las pinturas murales del Aula Magna y el Palacio Presidencial mientras se dan los primeros pasos de los modernistas.
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Página 3 de 4Principios del siglo XX No es hasta 1916 con el Salón de Bellas Artes que el arte empieza a comercializarse.
Antes, el retrato suponía una relación bilateral, la historia estaba más vinculada a lo estatal, y lo alegórico remitía a la
educación. El egresado no tenía sitios reales de exposición, pues sólo existían como canales de difusión la propia Academia y
ferias que se celebraban en el Pabellón de Educación de la Quinta de Molinos. Los centros regionales españoles: asturianos,
canarios, gallegos eran espacios de exposición de pintores españoles, y sólo en el siglo XX con el advenimiento de la
República y la participación de los catalanes estos centros alzan sus símbolos de poder. Es entonces cuando aparecen
instituciones culturales como el Ateneo, de patrocinio privado y la Academia de Artes y Letras (1910). La Asociación de
Pintores y Escultores cubanos surge para defender la obra de los artistas nacionales frente a los extranjeros y se encarga de
organizar el Salón de Bellas Artes anualmente. Mientras el sector peninsular consume pintura española, la oligarquía
dominante principalmente invierte en modelos foráneos, en aquella producción consagrada para su representación en
términos de cultura. El nuevo rico, deudor del auge del azúcar, producto de la II Guerra Mundial, se acerca a las obras de
representación guiándose por las dimensiones del cuadro y su marco y no por su maestría. Son justamente los intelectuales y
profesionales los que se inclinan hacia la producción cubana. A inicios de los años 20 una nueva generación de intelectuales
surge al calor del conflictivo panorama político social de esos años. La Revista de Avance (1927) es el espacio fundamental
para abrigar estas nuevas ideas y lenguajes plásticos. Posteriormente estarán las publicaciones: Verbum (1930), Espuela de
Plata (1940) y Orígenes (también en los '40). En el año 1937 los propios artistas de avanzada crean el Estudio Libre de Pintura y
Escultura que promueve manifestaciones desatendidas por la Academia como la talla en madera y la pintura mural, y se
celebra el Primer Salón de Arte Moderno. Como todo movimiento de vanguardia el artista pretende transformar la sociedad
desde la cultura. La revolución plástica que en Europa emprendieron Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh y otros a través de los
"ismos" modernos tarda en aparecer en Cuba dos décadas. Los que serían maestros de la pintura cubana moderna entonces,
beberían de esas fuentes y también del muralismo mexicano hasta crear una obra personal y profundamente cubana. Se trata
de un arte nacional, de renovación y de soluciones antiacadémicas. Los temas del retrato y el paisaje reivindican su significado
y se trabajan otras técnicas pictóricas, además del óleo sobre lienzo. Rafael Blanco, con sus aguadas y dibujos ("caricaturas
pintadas" que no eran consideradas "pintura") se presenta como el pionero en la búsqueda de nuevas formas expresivas y el
antecedente de la vanguardia pictórica cubana. Los discursos paralelos al académico pero no dominantes son aquellos que se
insertan con mayor facilidad en la modernidad; en la prensa, a través de la caricatura (de los que Torriente y Massaguer son
sus principales exponentes) y en el diseño gráfico en portadas de revistas (hacia la década del 20 resalta la Revista Social).
Debe anotarse también que desde las primeras décadas de este siglo comienza a practicarse en Cuba la serigrafía, pero con
carácter esporádico. Este sistema de impresión contemporáneo tiene su origen con fines fundamentalmente gráfico -
publicitarios e industriales y su introducción en La Habana es de las primeras del mundo (alrededor de 1910). Entre los
precursores de la vanguardia cubana se destaca Víctor Manuel, quien desde su figurativismo ensaya nuevas formas y deja
para la historia de la pintura cubana un símbolo de cubanía "La Gitana Tropical". A la altura de la tercera década tiene lugar
definitivamente la consolidación del arte moderno en Cuba. Este es el primer momento de viraje de la pintura cubana que
agrupa: el intimismo de Antonio Gattorno, los guajiros de Eduardo Abela, la sensualidad de Carlos Enríquez, la crítica político
social de Marcelo Pogolotti, el drama de un mundo artístico, la desesperación y agonía de Fidelio Ponce, las raíces africanas de
nuestra cultura extraídas por Wifredo Lam y las naturalezas muertas rodeadas en la composición de elementos de la
arquitectura cubana de Amelia Peláez. También figuran Arístides Fernández, más aislado de la corriente general pero con
iguales inquietudes, Jorge Arche con la personalización de los retratados, además de Mariano Rodríguez que se distingue por
la expresión cromática de sus obras, René Portocarrero y los interiores coloniales, y otros nombres como: Mirta Cerra,
Roberto Diago y José Mijares. Los años 40 y 50 Las décadas del '40 y '50 marcan el segundo momento de la plástica cubana;
una nueva vanguardia tiene lugar en este proceso de continuación de la modernización del arte, esta vez en sincronización con
el arte internacional, cuyo foco deja de ser Europa para pasar a Norteamérica. El Abstraccionismo llega a nuestro país y
provoca la Contrabienal de 1953. Las figuras anteriores ajustan su creación a estas nuevas influencias. Raúl Martínez
constituye el Grupo de los Once, de abstractos informalistas y aparecen los concretos, es decir aquellas figuras
independientes que cultivan la abstracción geométrica como: Sandú Darié, Salvador Corratgé, Luis Martínez Pedro, Loló
Soldevilla y Pedro de Oraá. Surgen también las figuras de los maestros Antonia Eiriz y Servando Cabrera Moreno quienes poco
a poco van asumiendo el expresionismo del que también se hace partícipe Orlando Llanez. Angel Acosta León se vuelve el
cultivador de un nuevo surrealismo y juega un importante papel a pesar de su prematura desaparición. En los años '40 también
tiene lugar la primera y más generalizada explosión de la serigrafía cubana en todos los tiempos, vinculada al cartel político. La
fusión del cartel con la serigrafía crea una cartelística de especificidades propias, apreciables de modo particular a partir de
1943 con el cartel de cine (por el auge del cine mexicano y argentino); vínculo serigráfico que se mantiene sin interrupción
hasta el presente. Paralelamente continúan las aplicaciones serigráficas en soportes diversos: cartón, papel, tela, madera,
etc., con fines publicitarios e industriales, alcanzando así este método un notable desarrollo técnico a finales de la década del
'40 para arribar a la mayoría de edad en los años '50, período en que se producen incursiones esporádicas de relevancia
cualitativa en la serigrafía artística. El arte cubano en las cuatro últimas décadas representa el período revolucionario y la
continuidad y superación de un proceso de madurez. Los '60 fueron engendro de heterogeneidad y pluralidad, libertad formal y
expresiva, enaltecedores del optimismo y la confianza en el proceso que se estaba sucediendo en el país. El legado serigráfico
es asumido por la Revolución desde los primeros meses de 1959, incorporando nuevos contenidos, valores y proyecciones de
orden ideológico y cultural. La gráfica ve surgir un estrepitoso boom a través de la cartelística del ICAIC, que en medio de la
escasez material logra resultados de novedosa significación en aspectos expresivos, estéticos, icónicos, formales,
cromáticos y tecnológicos. El dibujo humorístico basado en realidades cotidianas reinicia una extensa y ampliada línea de
desarrollo. La actitud que dio fundamento al humorismo propio del cubano se remonta al siglo pasado en el período anticolonial
y en el período inaugurado posteriormente en la República de 1902. Adigio Benítez y Carmelo Sobrino sitúan al campesino y al
obrero en los papeles protagónicos de su pintura, Raúl Martínez a los héroes y otros tratan diferentes asuntos, reflejo de los
hechos que acontecen. Figuras de aquella bien lograda generación de Servando Cabrera, Mariano Rodríguez, René
Portocarrero, Amelia Peláez, Wifredo Lam, etc., continúan sus caminos o acusan en algunos casos ciertos matices en sus
temas y estilos pero siempre consumando su lugar cimero en la pintura cubana, la cual gira en torno a la figuración a la par
que el movimiento internacional. Antonia Eiriz deja una huella imperecedera sobre muchos de los primeros graduados de la
Escuela Nacional de Arte, la mayoría de origen campesino, quienes animan la creación artística de la década siguiente.
Historia del arte en Cuba


Página 4 de 4La década de los '70La década de los '70 es un período de florecimiento para el dibujo y el grabado
representados por: Roberto Fabelo, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Zaida del Río, Nelson Dominguez, Eduardo Roca (Choco), etc. En la figura
de Raúl Martínez irrumpe el pop integrado a un discurso político cultural. Humberto Peña hace también una lectura personal de
esa tendencia, quien junto a José Luis Posada y Santiago Chago Armada, se convierte en antecedente importante de la
siguiente generación. Alfredo Sosabravo ha de destacarse también en esos años por su peculiar sentido del humor, Manuel
Mendive con el tema afro y un primitivismo intencional, Ever Fonseca por el abordaje de la mitología popular cubana y Flora
Fong de las leyendas campesinas. El fotorrealismo de Tomás Sánchez, Cesar Leal, Nélida López, Gilberto Frómeta, Aldo
Menendez y Flavio Garciandía es también relevante en los años '70 por la adaptación de los temas de la sociedad cubana a ese
lenguaje. En la década siguiente se forma la red de instituciones culturales, especializadas en espacios expositivos. En 1963 la
Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba había instalado un taller de serigrafía, y en 1979 la Casa de las Américas
organizó un taller en el que multiplicó serigráficamente obras de artistas cubanos y latinoamericanos, mas no es hasta 1983
con el surgimiento del Taller Experimental de Serigrafía René Portocarrero que la serigrafía deriva en el medio impresor
preferido por los pintores como vehículo multiplicador de obras, lo cual, a su vez, engendra una verdadera eclosión de la
serigrafía artística. Los '80 significan el tercer momento de viraje de nuestra producción artística y la culminación de un
proceso de florecimiento de la plástica cubana. Se debe a las apetencias de una nueva generación de plásticos egresados del
Instituto Superior de Arte para quienes la creación artística responde a una motivación cognoscitiva, indagatoria, intelectual,
en sintonía con los tiempos de desecularización del arte, y a un momento de predominio en la realidad nacional de ideas
ortodoxas y esquemáticas con las cuales el artista manifiesta su descontento. A la par que un movimiento emancipatorio que
recoge las aspiraciones de las viejas vanguardias para dejar traslucir un momento de incomunicación entre el sector artístico
e intelectual, es un movimiento transgresor, descanonizador que en su lenguaje y poética se integra al posmodernismo actual.
En líneas generales se revitaliza el discurso histórico-político desarticulando dogmas de la historia y símbolos patrios, se
priorizan los valores específicos del arte y se explota el camino de la apropiación, las instalaciones, el ready made, el arte de
concepto y objetual y las manifestaciones del arte efímero: happenings y performances (Grupos Puré y Arte Calle). Se asimila
la comunicación visual de la cultura popular, el kitsch, el chiste, la reflexión antropológica y sobre la naturaleza, el mito como
elemento indígena de nuestra cultura y la identidad latinoamericana tercermundista. Aparecen temas nuevos, y tanto la pintura
como las demás manifestaciones del arte intercambian relaciones entre sí con mayor libertad de técnicas, prefiriéndose en
muchos casos la mixta. La exposición Volumen I da inicio a la expresión de esta nueva sensibilidad. José Bedia y Ricardo
Rodríguez Brey, fieles seguidores del maestro Joseph Beuys, van a la búsqueda de las raíces de su cultura autóctona; José
Toirac, Juan Ballester, Tanya Angulo e Ileana Villazón meditan sobre el arte. Rubén Torres Llorca tanto como Flavio Garciandía
se remiten a la cultura popular y su relación con la Política. Lázaro Saavedra con elevada dosis de humor trata la ideología, el
arte, la religión; Reynerio Tamayo sigue la misma cuerda de emplear el humor para la crítica y Ciro Quintana, la crítica a través
del cómic cubano. Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas aborda temas que resultan problemáticos en su contexto epocal: el turismo, las
emigraciones, la mistificación de elementos políticos. Glexis Novoa realiza obras pictóricas e instalaciones que aluden a toda
la parafernalia enarbolada por la propaganda política y René Francisco y Eduardo Ponjuán expresan la vacuidad de los
postulados del realismo socialista. Humberto Castro, Gustavo Acosta, Segundo Planes, Ana Albertina Delgado, Lázaro García,
Félix Suazo, Leandro Soto, Arturo Cuenca, Luis Gómez, Gustavo Pérez Monzón, Consuelo Castañeda son sólo algunos nombres
de una larga lista que apunta desde estos años la variedad del panorama de la plástica cubana actual y la dificultad de
encontrar rasgos generales como no sea la propia diversidad. La emancipación de los años '80La emancipación se había
escudriñado y anunciado en los '80 en función, sin embargo, de presupuestos colectivos. En la presente década resulta difícil
agrupar, precisamente porque es el tiempo de las individualidades y del subjetivismo. La apertura y flexibilidad del poder
facilita tal diversidad. Continúa latente la generación surgida en los '70 y tras los consagrados desfilan jóvenes valores entre
los que se encuentran: Pedro Alvarez con su discurso acerca de la conquista y la insularidad, Sandra Ramos y su poética del
exilio, Fernando Rodríguez quien prepara maderas policromadas para hacerse portavoz del artista ciego Francisco de la Cal,
Osvaldo Yero y sus símbolos de yeso multicolor y Esterio Segura con sus esculturas - altares en las que se dan cita imágenes
de todo tipo de género y caracteres alternando dibujo y grabado sobre metal. Douglas Pérez, Aimee García, Rubén Alpízar, Elsa
Mora y otros tantos, y en una posición alternativa otra lista más extensa aún de una gran variedad de expresiones, enarbolan
discursos que sostienen el prestigio alcanzado por la plástica en Cuba. Tan es así que se corre el riesgo de extraer algunos
nombres sin ofender por exclusión a otros. Cuando se ha consolidado la vuelta a la pintura esteticista de la que los Carpinteros
son su mejor ejemplo, sin desplazar aún del todo el espíritu de instalaciones, post conceptualismo y arte efímero que
caracterizó a los '80 u otros lastres de décadas pasadas, se amalgaman algunas formas ochocentistas. En la década anterior,
el lenguaje posmoderno recogió de la modernidad la voluntad de la vanguardia: transformar la sociedad por medio del arte.
Pero hoy la crítica mordaz e hiriente ha pasado a tamizarse a través de la ironía, el pastiche, el discurso de la oblicuidad, con
un lenguaje lleno de sutilezas conceptuales y formales. Por otra parte la gráfica, que desde años anteriores hacía relucir la
figura de Belkis Ayón, hoy añade un ejemplo como el de Abel Barroso, el mayor transgresor de los soportes que expone el taco
de madera y traspasa la bidimensionalidad construyendo objetos sobre los que circulan slogans de la realidad cubana,
anunciando en un final un esplendor provocado en gran medida por las facilidads que brinda la existencia de distintos talleres
experimentales.La pintura en el exilioLa historia de la pintura cubana correría el riesgo de quedar inconclusa si se ignorara la
pintura del exilio, cuyos focos principales son EE.UU. y París. Se trata tanto de la producción de los viejos maestros que
salieron del país (Mario Carriño, Cundo Bermúdez, Agustín Fernández, Jorge Camacho, Joaquín Ferrer, Gina Pellón ...) como
aquellos del Arte Calle de los '80, la llamada Generación del Mariel u otros (Tomás Esson, Luis Cruz Asazeta, Miguel Padura,
Vicente Domínguez, Heriberto Mora, Juan Carlos García Lubín), quienes han tenido que adaptar su obra a las exigencias del
mercado. También de los que viviendo en México, París o Madrid a la caída del muro de Berlín viajan a Miami (Torres Llorca,
Aldo Menéndez, José Bedia, Arturo Cuenca, Tomás Sánchez), y de aquellas generaciones que se forman en el extranjero
(Mario Bencomo, María Breto, Arturo Rodríguez, Juan González y Hernán García de la generación de Miami). De todas
prácticamente desconocemos el desenvolvimiento de su evolución. El arte cubano es punto de mira de diversos contextos; el
de ayer, por el protagonismo de muchas de sus figuras y el actual, porque quizás en la elevada conciencia artística del creador
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