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Visual Arts

Painting has a solid history in this bold new country. Traditional European foundations were laid for the creative powerhouse that was to come with the establishment of the San Alejandro Fine Arts Academy in 1818. By 1920s, a truly Cuban form of art had found its own avant-garde expression. Víctor Manuel’s La Gitana Tropical (1929), displayed today in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, is considered to be one of the defining pieces of Cuban modern art. The Vanguardia movement (1927-1950) transfused modernism with a distinctly Cuban perspective reflecting Afro-Caribbean themes in the colours and people of the island. Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982) continues to be Cuba’s best known master from this period. Print making and the graphic arts originally developed to support the tobacco and sugar industries. In the 1960s graphic art came into its own, reflecting the ideals and aspirations of the Revolution. Examples of this art form can be seen today in posters and murals across the island. Photography too was important to the early years of the Revolution. In particular Alberto Korda’s (born Alberto Díaz Gutiérre, 1928-2001) iconic images of Fidel Casto and Che Guevara visually defined the Revolution. Guerrillero Heroico, Korda’s 1960s image of Che, has been reproduced perhaps more than any other photo in the world. Contemporary Cuban art is flourishing, and can be found in galleries all across the country. Not to be missed: Museo Nacional Palacio de Bellas Artes, Centro de Desarrollo de Artes Visuales and the Wilfredo Lam Centre in Havana.