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¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today in Montreal, Canada

 

Thanks to the involvement of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Fototeca de Cuba, and the collaboration of many collectors and museums in the United States, including the MoMA, this exhibition will draw a broad panorama of Cuban art and history.

 

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¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today, which brings together some 400 works of art, will be the first exhibition to showcase the art of this Caribbean island, which Christopher Columbus described as “the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen.” This lively and well-conceived multidisciplinary exhibition will bring together about one hundred paintings, including a huge collective mural produced in 1967 by many artists, two hundred photographs and documents, approximately one hundred works on paper (in particular two collections of pre- and post-1959-Revolution posters), some two hundred photographs and documents, installations and videos, in addition to music and film excerpts.

 

Exhibition Summary - This ambitious exhibition will feature the art of Cuba, an island that has witnessed the twentieth-century’s principal historical events (decolonization, the search for a national identity, wars of independence and the Revolution, the building of political utopias and ideological clashes). Located at the crossroads of Old Europe and the New World, Cuba is a rich cultural terrain: its music and literature are well known outside of the country, but the same cannot be said of its visual arts.

 

The exhibition is divided into five sections: Depicting Cuba: Finding Ways to Express a Nation (1868-1927); Arte Nuevo: The Avant-garde and the Re-creation of Identity (1927-1938); Cubanness: Affirming a Cuban Style (1938-1959); Within the Revolution, Everything, Against the Revolution, Nothing (1959-1979); The Revolution and Me: The Individual Within History (1980-2007).

 

The exhibition’s historical narrative will be told through a selection of significant photographs: from those that have never been shown to the iconic, these pictures will illustrate the chronology of events as recorded by remarkable photographers. Within this account will be images illustrating the major chapters in the history of Cuban art, from the nineteenth-century’s wars of independence through to the uncertainties of the future. Throughout the twentieth century, artists engaged in international discourses sought to define a national identity, Cubanidad. Intermingling a re-examination of its colonialist past and openness to the avant-garde, Cuban artists created a profoundly original art of synthesis (Baroque and academic legacies, Spanish and African roots, Catholic and traditional spirituality). Central to the century and the exhibition, with the presentation of twenty paintings, the landmark work of Wifredo Lam will embody this synthesis.

 

At times a vehicle for collective political action and at times a personal expression vis-à-vis history, Cuban art deals with matters pertaining to a sense of place and the role of the artist in society, issues that outstanding contemporary artists continue to explore in relevant ways.

 

The Curators - The exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art (MMFA) in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA) and the Fototeca de Cuba, Havana. Nathalie Bondil, director of the MMFA, is the general curator of the exhibition, in collaboration with Moraima Clavijo Colom, director of the MNBA, and Lourdes Socarrás, director of the Fototeca de Cuba. The curatorial committee also includes Hortensia Montero Méndez, curator of Cuban art, MNBA; Luz Merino Acosta, technical director, MNBA; Rufino del Valle, curator, Fototeca de Cuba; Iliana Cepero, associate curator, MNBA; Stéphane Aquin, curator of contemporary art, MMFA; and the team of curators of the MNBA.

 

The Catalogue - Under the general editorship of Nathalie Bondil, a 370-page catalogue will be produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Publishing Department. This book, which will include some 450 colour illustrations, is the first publication covering the whole history of Cuban art. It will provide essays by Cuban and international specialists on various aspects of the subject and some 140 biographical notes. It will be published in separate French, English and Spanish editions.

 

Sponsors - In Montreal, the exhibition is presented by Sun Life Financial, in collaboration with METRO.

 

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts wishes to thank Cubana and media partners La Presse and The Gazette. Its gratitude also extends to Quebec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications for its ongoing support.

 

The Museum would like to thank the Volunteer Association of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for its invaluable support. It would also like to thank all its Friends and the many corporations, foundations and people who support its mission.

 

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ International Exhibition Programme receives financial support from the Exhibition Fund of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation and the Paul G. Desmarais Fund.

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