Cuban Painter Damien Cruz
About Cuban Art
The Jungle
Wifredo Lam - 1943
Florida Governor Rick Scott
Damien Cruz
 - 2011
In less than twenty days Wifredo
Lam painted his masterpiece.
"The Jungle" is the most important
artwork from all of Latin America.
It is displayed in the entrance
gallery to the Painting and
Sculpture section of the Museum
of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
The image above is of a two dimensional
work of art protected under United States
copyrights law.
 

Please click here for details
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
Página 2
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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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es el primer momento de viraje de la pintura cubana que agrupa: el intimismo de Antonio Gattorno, los guajiros de Eduardo Abela, la en
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
cultivador de un nuevo surrealismo y juega un importante papel a pesar de su prematura desaparición. En los años '40 también tiene lugar
aguadas y dibujos ("caricaturas pintadas" que no eran consideradas "pintura") se presenta como el pionero en la búsqueda de nuevas la
formas expresivas y el antecedente de la vanguardia pictórica cubana. Los discursos paralelos al académico pero no dominantes son la
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 método
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 y
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 la
de Fidelio Ponce, las raíces africanas de nuestra cultura extraídas por Wifredo Lam y las naturalezas muertas rodeadas en la composición
tecnológicos. El dibujo humorístico basado en realidades cotidianas reinicia una extensa y ampliada línea de desarrollo. La actitud que dio
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
posteriormente en la República de 1902. Adigio Benítez y Carmelo Sobrino sitúan al campesino y al obrero en los papeles protagónicos de
expresión cromática de sus obras, René Portocarrero y los interiores coloniales, y otros nombres como: Mirta Cerra, Roberto Diago y José
lograda generación de Servando Cabrera, Mariano Rodríguez, René Portocarrero, Amelia Peláez, Wifredo Lam, etc., continúan sus 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 de la década
siguiente.
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.
Cuban painter Damien Cruz - Galeria de arte - Virtual Art gallery, and online catalog featuring Damien's acrilic, oil paintings
Official Site of Cuban painter Damien Cruz | Pintor Cubano Damien Cruz | Virtual Art Gallery and online catalog featuring Damien Cruz'
newest art; "Havana Cathedral", Bohio, "La Carreta", "San Cristobal de La Habana", "My Inspiration", "Green Village", "Red Light District", and
other "Damien Cruz art" | Curious Facts About Cuban Art | Pintura Cubana | Pintores Cubanos | Pinturas Cubanas | Cuban Paintings |
Cuadros Cubanos | Cuban Artists | Arte Cubano | Cuban Art |  Cuban artworks | contemporary cuban paintings | Giclees | "Limited Edition
Prints" | Limited Edition Giclee Prints | "Miami Painter" Damien Cruz  | "Miami artist" Damien Cruz | "Cuban-American artist" Damien Cruz |
"Cuban American" painter in Miami "
"Official Site of Cuban painter Damien Cruz | Pintor Cubano Damien Cruz | Virtual Art Gallery and online catalog featuring Damien Cruz'
newest art; "Havana Cathedral", Bohio, "La Carreta", "San Cristobal de La Habana", "My Inspiration", "Green Village", "Red Light District", and
other "Damien Cruz art" | Curious Facts About Cuban Art | Pintura Cubana | Pintores Cubanos | Pinturas Cubanas | Cuban Paintings |
Cuadros Cubanos | Cuban Artists | Arte Cubano | Cuban Art |  Cuban artworks | contemporary cuban paintings | Giclees | "Limited Edition
Prints" | Limited Edition Giclee Prints | "Miami Painter" Damien Cruz  | "Miami artist" Damien Cruz | "Cuban-American artist" Damien Cruz |
"Cuban American" painter in Miami"
Florida
Featured Artist Damien Cruz
Damien Cruz  - 2013
A Melody For Two