Robaina's plantation

Monday 11 March 2013

Casa de Las Americas (Havana)

                 It's been a couple of years now that I've been trying to get to this place and either because it's been closed or I haven't had the time.....I haven't been able to get to it. On my last trip we stayed within walking distance of the building and I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to check it out. The building is very deceptive, looking more like a church or temple rather than an Art Gallery. So here I was, It was open, although it didn't seem like it, there was nobody there as far as visitors that is. I was greeted by a lovely old lady who introduced herself and proceeded to be my guide throughout my visit. She took me, in order, through all the different rooms to all the exhibits and I was grateful for that. The guide knew about all the different artists and was happy to answer my questions. However, she spoke only Spanish.
                  The tour ended in the "Che Guevara Room" where Mexican artist 'Alfonso Soteno's' Tree of Life, baptized the 'Sea Tree', is on display after having been erected in 1975. It's 7 meters tall, contains 663 figures and has become an Icon of the House. My guide explained how they had to break a wall and use a crane to get it in before putting it together or 'planting it' as they say.
                   The Casa de Las Americas was founded by the Cuban government in April 1959, 4 months after Fidel took over. The Casa's founder and President until her death in 1980 was Haydee Santamaria. She fought alongside other women during the Revolution and was rumoured to have been one of Fidel Castro's mistresses. It's safe to say that the Casa was born from the Revolution. It contains the most complete collection of Latin American Art dating back from 1960 to present date anywhere. It's become a Cuban Institution promoting Latin American and Caribbean Arts and Culture as well as researches, supports, awards and publishes the works of writers, sculptures, musicians and other artists or students of literature and the Arts. Annual programs include talks, workshops and prizes for literature as well as painting, photography, musicology and engravings.
                   In conclusion; I went to visit an Art Gallery (and wasn't disappointed) but what I found was a Latin American Cultural Hotspot. There was so much more to this place, it even contains a specialist Library which I'm going to have to check out on another visit. If you like Art it's definitely worth a visit. Admission is free, I just gave our guide a few dollars that she deserved. I would give myself at least an hour inside the gallery, there is a fair bit to see. The pictures below are only a small representation of what's there.

Casa de Las Americas
Calle 3ra y Avenide de Los Presidentes (G)
tel  (7) 552706  (7) 334554

tues-sat 10am-4:30pm
sun 9am-1pm

unknown artist

Antonio Saura (Spain) 'no title' 1970 120x120cm

Josep Guinovart (Spain) 'Coatzacoalcos' 1972 48.5x61cm

                                  Josep Guinovart (Spain) 'Piramides' 1972 153x152.5cm

Angel Acosta Leon (Cuba) 'Carruaje' 1959 122x177cm

Eduardo Arroyo (Spain) 'Cuba Si' 1963 38x46cm

Carlos Alonso (Argentina) 'no title' 1965 45.5x60cm

Raul Martinez (Cuba) 'Fidel y Marti' 1967 147x205cm

Umberto Pena (Cuba) 'no title' 1965 120x120cm

Juan Downey (Chile) 'Amo un Animal' 1963 330x435mm

Jose Balmas (Chile) 'Vietnam Herido (momento viii)' 1970 150x150cm

Elmar Rene Rojas (Guatemala) 'Una Anticipada presentacion del torofuego' 100x75cm

Herve Telemaque (Haiti) 'Fait Divers' Paris 1962 130x195cm

Antonio Berni (Argentina) 'Triptico Juanito Laguna' 200x300cm

'para que la libertad no se convierte en estatua' 1963-64 200x994cm

Angel Acosta Leon (Cuba) 'Cafetera Roja' 1960 185x73cm

unknown artist

Alfonso Soteno (Mexico) 'Tree of life-Sea Tree' 1975 7 meters tall

The Elevator