Cuban Art: History and Famous Artists
Cuban art reflects the diverse population of Cuba Island and an extraordinarily diversified cultural combination of characteristics in Europe, South America, North America, and Africa. Artists in Cuba adopted European systems, and there was a development of Cuban avant-garde movements characterized by a combination of modern artistic formats in the early 20th century.
Spain governed Cuba and the Caribbean islands surrounding it between 150-1900. Spanish politicians decided that buildings, portraits, and landscapes could only be commissioned by wealthy people. Spanish art schools were founded in the Cuban islands which inspired artworks.
The main characteristics of Cuban art in that period were romanticism, realism, classicism, and neoclassicism. In 1898, Cuba obtained independence from Spain, prompting Cuban artists to challenge the cultural status of the island. 10 years later, Cuban artists made a major breakaway through Vanguardia art — a rebellious movement that portrays Cuban existence by way of surrealism and cubism rather than traditional works studied in Cuban schools of art.
In 1950, paintings in Cuba were mounted at special places. Many famous Cuban painters departed the island to seek better job opportunities as tourists visiting the island provided greater revenue for art in Cuba that period.
Several artists stayed back, producing government-sponsored Cuban paintings and art prints. The Cuban artists supported the revolutionary movement at that period, enabling them to paint Cuba's life under the colonization of Spain. Cuba's socialist party controlled the art in Cuba and prohibited non-revolutionary arts. Cuban artists started creating works of art without any interference from the Government in 1980.
Cuban artistic license restrictions are more relaxed today, even though Cuba's Socialist Party maintains its position as the main outlet for funding and employment of Cuban artists. Modern Cuban paintings and artwork are recurring subjects made by artists in Cuba to retain their culture in the era of globalization and homogeneity.
Cuban's non-western artistic group, Grupo Bayate, also depicted Cuban cultural pieces, which visitors rarely see in the artworks of the island or North and South America.
Philosophical arts were common in Cuba in 1970-1980. This is a way to express artists' ideas, rather than describe their topics. This kind of Cuban artwork necessitates that viewers make emotional connections before defining the artwork rather than getting the artist to talk about the subject.
Cuban art represents a different combination of African, North America, and European cultures. Cuban artists are using their skills in art to depict the island's diverse demographics and the lives of the Cuban people when Spain ruled them. There are many Cuban paintings for sale today and because of their exclusive style, they're extremely expensive.
The Academy of San Alejandro, founded in 1818, is Cuba's oldest institute of art. Several popular artists worldwide have learned or taught there. The art mirrored the standard forms of painting that Europe had throughout the nineteenth century.
Lam pursued the representation and revitalization of the enduring Afro-Cuban culture. Influenced by several famous cuban painters of the 20th century like Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, and Frida Kahlo, Lam merged his ideologies and produced a special style, characterized primarily by the fame of these hybrid characters. Most musicians were inspired by his renowned visual style. Although he was primarily a painter, later in his life, he also focused on ceramics, sculpture, and prints.
In a linear form of surreal echoes, Lam's work describes his Afro-Cuban background. The Jungle, painted in 1943 is one of his most famous artworks in Cuba. Zambezia, Zambezia, created in 1950 is another work of Lam that echoes the sculptural styles of Africa and battles with components of identity and ethnicity.
Antonio was a prominent member of modern Cuban painters' first generation. He studied at the San Alejandro Academy before moving to Europe for further studies. He was acknowledged as a talented artist and his early artwork mirrored classical art. Nevertheless, he accepted modern art after witnessing it in France. In 1927, he came back to Cuba with Surrealism. He created several paintings that explored Cuban farmers and became famous for painting jobs in the 1930s. He relocated to the USA in 1939 and visited Cuba just once again afterward.
Amelia was the Vanguardia's only female member and is mainly known for a collection of mural designs. She first schooled at the San Alejandro Academy before moving abroad to further in Paris and the United States. She produced a distinctive and beautiful style, inspired by the Cuban design and architecture, as well as Cubism, color principle and other contemporary art movements. Her bold shapes include images that cover a page, most times with outlines that are black and bold. She is also well-known for ceramics and paintings.
Federico is a Spanish painter from Cuba and the only son of the retired Spanish military officer deployed to Cuba, Luis Beltrán Fernandez Estepona and Dona Mercedes Masses Olives. In Barcelona, Federico enjoyed his youth and started his artistic studies at Escola de La Llotja, a renowned academy. He, afterward, moved to Madrid, and there his artistic knowledge was improved under Joaquín Sorolla.
Federico is also known as a colorist. He sometimes referred openly to the tropical conditions of his childhood through his seductive depictions of women and his paintings were thoroughly influenced by Spanish heritage.
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