Cuban Art and Identity: 1900 to 1950
October 19, 2013 - February 2, 2014
Presenting Sponsors: Estate of Glee and Robert Ries Endowment, Patricia M. Patten Endowment
Supporting Sponsors: John and Sue Dobbs, Laura and Bill Frick; Mr. and Mrs. M. Gerald Sedam II, and Peter and Pat Thompson
Patron Sponsors: Herb and Vicki Aspbury
With additional support from Mr. and Mrs. James H. Carney II, Mr. and Mrs. George Christopher, Gerry and Karen Fox, and the Friends of the VBMA Endowment
Cuban Art and Identity: 1900 to 1950 will feature exciting, colorful works of twentieth-century paintings by artists who defined the island nation’s cultural identity. Cuba’s “modernist” painters participated in a global movement in the arts, characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional art styles. These lively works of art will show how artists searched for a sense of national identity by exploring three main themes: Criollismo (rural, folkloric, and peasant subjects), Afro-Cubanism (Cuba’s African heritage), and Barroquismo (Spanish foundational culture). Some of the artists representing these trends will include Mario Carreño, Cundo Bermudez, René Portocarrero, and Mariano Rodriguez. Many of these artists emphasized the exotic, sensual, and rural components of Cuban culture, as traits that set the island apart. The exhibition will also highlight paintings by Amelia Peláez and Wilfredo Lam, who reached maturity at a time when new artistic ideas and styles were being developed by the European avant-garde. To help viewers better understand modernism in Cuban, several examples of “Academic” or traditional paintings will be on view for comparison, encompassing styles that ranged from Romanticism and Realism to a mild Impressionism. Because Cuba was a new republic, creating paintings as symbols of a national cultural identity carried some urgency and intensity. In the process of imagining the nation, artists explored competing subject matter and styles. Echoing the rhythms of the Rhumba and the Mambo and the colors of town and country, this exhibition will offer Museum visitors an insider’s view of Cuba’s dynamic culture before the Castro era.