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    Cuban intellectual and scholar Gerardo Mosquera launches into a thorough history of the development of Cuban culture, ranging from literature to art, starting from the late 19th century independence. Mosquera traces the evolution of the arts scene, from the rising place of Afroamerican identity in art, to the figurative geometrics that characterized the 1940s–1950s, to the changing tides of the revolution. The Cuban Revolution brought with it censorship, and “in this difficult situation an art movement arose which in the 80s renewed the Cuban culture…its protagonists were youth formed completely by the revolutionary era.” In this way, Cuban art “began to assume a more active role, critical and independent, moved by social preoccupations” and this movement was inaugurated by the exhibition, Volumen I, in Havana in 1981. From here, Mosquera returns to a summary of significant artists of this period, which include but are not limited to: Tonel (b. 1958), Flavio Garciandía (b. 1954), El Grupo Puré, Grupo Arte Calle, Lázaro Saavedra (b. 1964), and Tania Bruguera (b. 1968). These artists placed into relief Latin American identity by confronting nationalist dogmas. Leaving aside the obsession of identifying as either Western on non-Western, Mosquera points out that these artists productively problematized the dilemma of Latin American identity and in that way, they maintained the Cuban art’s reputation as more than a commitment to aesthetics, but also deeply entrenched in culture, politics and ethics.


    Gerardo Mosquera continues to develop critical discourse on Cuban cultural production. This essay comes from the critical art anthology, “Nosotros, los más infieles. Narraciones críticas sobre el arte cubano (1993-2005)” published in 2007. [An earlier version of this essay is accessible through the ICAA digitial archive “Arte y cultura crítica en Cuba” (doc. no. 1278519). Two other essays in the anthology are accessible through the ICAA digital archive “Arte hacienda política: Eduardo Ponjuán y René Francisco” (doc. no. 1278666) and “Arte preso: Ángel Delgado” (doc. no. 1278650)]. The essay illustrates how Cuban art has distinguished itself as a cultural icon within the arts of Latin America. 

    Gerardo Mosquera (b. 1945) is a Cuban curator, critic, and art historian whose work explores debates about art circulation and production in a globalized world. One of the original organizers of the first Havana Biennial in 1984, he also served as adjunct curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art from 1995 to 2009. He has published widely on modern and contemporary Latin American art and organized major museum exhibitions on topics, including Crisisss Latin America, Art and Confrontation, 1910–2010 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes and ExTeresa Arte Actual, Mexico City in 2011, and ¡Afuera! Arte en espacios públicos in Córdoba, Argentina in 2010.