Since Cuba opened up its island to tourism in the 1980s, interest in Cuban art has taken hold of the world’s imagination. Local Cuban artists in various cities and towns throughout Cuba began to sell their art to tourists during the early days of tourism. This began in and around the tourist resorts as more and more resorts began to be built across the island.
Artists, who are traditionally poor in many countries, found a new avenue for generating income in Cuba. The selling of art to tourists was a method by Cuban artists could survive the economic hardships they faced, to support their families and to buy the materials needed to create art.
In spite of many economic difficulties, the Cuban art scene has flourished and built itself an international reputation among art collectors. Economic difficulties and struggles have not curtailed the creativity of Cuban artists. In fact, these struggles have given birth to a characteristically Cuban art created in this political and social context.
Cultural exchanges between the United States, Canada and Cuba have grown in recent years for the most talented elite of Cuba’s artists. Restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba has been relaxed by President Obama. Americans, curious to see and experience the Cuba they have not seen since 1959 have been traveling to Cuba by the thousands. The Cuban economy has benefited from tourism because of this influx of American tourists. A curiosity in Cuban art and artists has also developed.
If you are traveling to Cuba and are interested in Cuban artists, you will find many art galleries in Havana, Cuba’s capital city. These art galleries in Havana offer art exhibitions and Cuban art for sale. They also display the best works of the most talented Cuban artists. One can also find the works of young, talented upcoming artists.
There are also galleries in Havana devoted exclusively to exhibiting the photographic work of famous Cuban photographers. Often housed in architecturally beautiful, sometimes renovated buildings built in the early 20th century, these art galleries in Havana should not be missed for the wealth of Cuban art they display.
If you want to get to know more about Cuban art, your first stop in Havana should be the National Museum of Fine Arts in historic part of the city. The museum is located at Trocadero e/ Zulueta y Monserrate. The National Museum of Fine Arts’ collections include the art of Cuba’s past as well as contemporary Cuban art. After the National Museum of Fine Art, there are numerous other galleries in Havana one can visit and experience both contemporary and historical Cuban art.
Walk around the city, you also be able to find artists’ studios where they might be working on their art at the time. Once hidden from the rest of the world, a person with a passion for art can come and discover the works of Cuban artists.
Author: Zoe Veraz
Zoe is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Cuba Business Report.