Photo Walk-Through:The Faces of Modernity in Havana

A fresh look at portraiture in the first half of the 20th centuryVICTOR_MANUEL_Retrato_de_Marta_Sardina,_ca._1934HAVANA, march 16th  Los rostros de la modernidad (The Faces of Modernity) offers a fresh look at one of the most enduring of all art genres: the portrait.

The 45 works on view include portraits by 15 artists of the 20th century, among them Víctor Manuel, Amelia Peláez, Carlos Enríquez, Mariano Rodríguez, and Wifredo Lam. The show focuses on the tumultuous era of Cuban modernity spanning 1925–1957.

Here is an excerpt from the curator’s statement, and a quick look at the show and some of the works on view.


Curator Roberto Cobas Amate with a portrait by Wifredo Lam Courtesy Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana

Los rostros de la modernidad runs through June 19 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Excerpt from the exhibition statement by curator Roberto Cobas Amate:
What is the attraction for contemporary museumgoers of a portrait exhibition by 20th-century modern masters?
Nowadays, it may seem like an old-fashioned idea for a show. But portraiture may be the best reflection of an era’s private life, especially compared to other genres of art.

Thus, our interest in exploring Cuban painting in the first half of the 20th century through one of its most revealing topics. Revisiting those portraits made during the dynamic and unsettled years of Cuba’s modernist era is a challenge, seen from our contemporary moment, in which we question the appropriateness of continuing to admire their beauty when their own time has vanished.

 In this exhibition, the intrinsic beauty of these portraits returns to assume its rightful claim on our attention, without denying the cultural and historical context in which they were made.

From the exhibition: Jorge Arche, Retrato de Arístedes Fernández, 1933
Retrato_de_Aristides_Fernandez,_1933,_de_Jorge_ArcheMariano Rodríguez, Retrato de Zora, 1937

Mariano Rodríguez, Retrato de Celeste, 1956 Retrato_de_Celeste,_1956_Mariano_Rodriguez

Mariano Rodríguez, Retrato de Libi con sombrilla, 1941MARIANO_Retrato_de_Libi_con_sombrilla,_1941

René Portocarrero, Retrato de Darié, 1951PORTOCARRERO_Retrato_de_Darie,_1951

Victor Manuel, Retrato de Enmita10.Victor_Manuel_Garcia_Retrato_de_Enmita

Courtesy Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana