Cuba Arts and Music

By | December 16, 2021


The artistic testimonies of the colonial period, followed in the 19th century, are scarce and not very relevant. from a European-style academic production. In 1927 the Exposición de Arte Nuevo marks the beginning of modern painting in Cuba, opposed to the continuing academicism imparted by the Académia San Alejandro: the main representatives are the painter Victor Manuel (VM García), who has just returned from a stay in Paris, and the sculptor JJ Sicre, a pupil of A. Bourdelle in Paris. An important dissemination tool is the Avance magazine (1927-30). Another important personality is the painter A. Peláez. The next generation, linked to the Orígenes magazinein the 1940s, it has among the main representatives R. Portocarrero, Mariano (M. Rodríguez); the Onze group (1953) mainly gathers abstractionists (the painters A. Vidal, R. Avila, H. Consuegra, G. Llinás, R. Martínez and the sculptor T. Oliva). A research that breaks with the European influence for an authentically Cuban aspiration focuses on the African matrix on the island. W. Lam, operating in Europe, is the author of a surrealist syncretism where the various cultural components of the island and his family ancestry converge; Afro-Cuban culture also emerges in the paintings of M. Mendive and J. Bedia and in the sculptures of A. Cárdenas; Cuba Bermúdez and M. Carreño (moved to Chile), in turn, enhance local folklore, while from the United States T. Sánchez focuses on the landscape; still Afro-Cuban religious syncretism informs the works of S. Rodríguez and B. Ayón Manso. The regime of F. Castro (from 1959) was propitious to art forms praising the revolution and to popular techniques such as graphics, the poster and the vallas, huge panels placed in the city and along the road network. Among the liveliest institutions are the W. Lam Contemporary Art Center, which has organized the Bienal de La Habana since 1984, and the Museo Nacional de Cerámica contemporánea Cubana, established in 1990. For Cuba 1997, please check

Of the remarkable development of the Baroque architecture of the colonial period, many testimonies have been lost due to natural disasters. Architecture up to the first half of the 20th century. it remained mainly informed by the colonial tradition and a vernacular regionalism, apart from some examples, at the beginning of the century, of Art nouveau. But already in the 1940s a close link was established between Cuban architects (R. de Cárdenas, H. Alonso, M. Gutiérrez, M. Borges) and the masters of the modern movement. Of some influence in the 1950s was the teaching of E. Batista, who proposed a version of rationalism adapted to the local climate and materials. With the revolution of 1959, new needs are imposed in the field of housing and services. Among the most significant achievements: in Havana, the Escuelas nacionales de arte (1961-65) by R. Porro, who later moved to France ; the university city (1961-69) of H. Alonso and then of F. Salinas, also author of the residential complex of Manicaragua (1963). Noteworthy are Cuba’s pavilion at the Montreal Expo (1967) by V. Garatti and the Parque Lenin in Havana (1969-72) by A. Quintana.


Cuban folk music features a unique fusion of Spanish (gujira music) and Afro-Hispanic (criolla music) elements. From the encounter of black rhythms with melodies and dances of Spanish origin (habanera, zapateado) Afro-Cuban music was born, widespread in dance halls all over the world, with dances such as rumba, conga, salsa and the son. Typical instruments include bongos and maracas, several drums and percussion instruments. Cuban art music bore its first fruits in the second half of the 19th century. and then in the 20th, when composers such as A. Roldán, A. García Caturla and J. Ardévol turned to Cuban popular music by grafting it into symphonic structures of European origin. The avant-garde is headed by composers such as Cuba Fariñas (1934) and L. Brouwer (1939).

Cuba Arts and Music