Cuban Art

Overview Art
  • Earliest Cuban paintings
  • Early Colonial times
  • Later Colonial years
  • 19th Century
  • 20th Century
  • Art by Cuban exiles
  • Cuban Artists

Cuban Art in the 20th Century

Prior to the early 20th Century, art in Cuba was not commercialized. There were no galleries or exhibition rooms or halls to display Cuban art in, although Spanish art was exhibited in various centers.

This remained so until in 1916 the Asociación de Pintores y Escultores Cubanos (Association of Cuban Painters and Sculptors) was founded with the purpose of creating a space in which Cuban artists could display their work in, at the Salón de Bellas Artes.

The intellectuals of the time, and the educated families were drawn to this national art, much more so than the “new rich” social class which had emerged thanks to the booming sugar industry. This part of society preferred foreign art, preferably big in proportion. On a social and political level, things were instable and inevitably influenced the art scene and its intellectuals, who began exploring new mediums of art.

The Estudio Libre de Pintura y Escultura was founded in 1937, where techniques such as wood carving and mural painting where revived. National art was renewed and modernism had been firmly established by the end of the 30’s.

During the next two decades, sculpture was at the forefront, continuing with the modern movement that was sweeping through Cuban art. Abstract techniques began to evolve and art trends from North America began taking on as much importance as those from Europe once had. Expressionism and a little later, Surrealism, where movements that gradually caught on in Cuban art.

Poster art was another medium which flourished during the mid-20th Century and which resulted from a combination of political posters and Cuban serigraphy. Poster art was especially appreciated in film posters, even more so when the Cuban Institute for Cinematographic Industry and Art began using graphic art.

This continued into the sixties, when art, again, reflected ideological and political changes occurring in Cuba.

During the 70’s drawing techniques flourished and sketches and graphic art bloomed. Popular subjects and themes include Afro-Cuban mythology and other peasant’s legends.

The 80’s marked a third cornerstone, particularly in Cuban sculpture. During this decade in which individualism and subjectivism were prominent, artists began exploring a lot more, with very diverse forms of expression. Many experimental workshops that began appearing around Cuba provided the means for this exploration