Artist of the moment…..Wifredo Lam…

Wifred Lam is considered by many to be the most popular painter from Cuba in history.

In Havana City, Cuba there is a musuem named after Lam. Here is a quick clip of the building.

When thinking of this artist it is important to remember that he was trying to push his own culture forward in his painting. A mixture of African and Cuban figures. Lam was born in 1902 in Sagua La Grande, Cuba. Yam had a variety of cultures and influences in his life and it showed in his paintings and sculptures. His father was a Chinese immigrant living in Cuba. His mother was born to a family sharing African and Cuban ancestry. His godmother was seen as a healer in  this society.

As a college aged student Lam hoped to take up law and moved to the urban city of Havana, Cuba. He studied plants and then studied painting and drawing at Escuela de Belle Art.  Young Lam didn’t appreciate the academic style of painting and drawing, he yearned for a more expressive way to execute his drawing. He went off to study in Madrid, Spain.

In Madrid the artist had great fortune to come across the former teacher to Salvador Dali, his name was Fernando Alvarez de Sotomayor Zaragoza.

Lam was married when he was twenty seven years old. Sadly his wife and their infant both died from tuberculosis only two years after they were married. Many historians believe this event caused the artist to develop such a dark side.

After the death of his family members Lam took off and explored the countryside of  Spain and lived in Madrid and Barcelona before embarking on a move to Paris.

He was able to meet and learn from his idol, Pablo Picasso.  In fact Picasso became a huge supporter and fan of the artist. Picasso went on to introduce Lam to many other prominent members of the art world such as Joan Miro, Fernand Leger, and Henri Matisse. Picasso and Lam even gave exhibitions together.

The artist continued to travel throughout Europe during the late 1930s and just as World War II was going to start, he was caught and imprisoned and sent back to Cuba. Upon his return to Cuba he became upset and thought the Cuban culture was losing its sense of African pride.

If I were to compare Lam to another artist other than Picasso, because I am sure you know many Picasso works, it would be Manuel Carbonell. I plan to do longer entry on him since he is perhaps the most collected sculptor hailing from Cuba. Carbonell exaggeraed his figures in much the same manner as Picasso. When I first saw this sculture I was reminded of the 3D classic movie Avatar. Here is an example of his style of art.

carbonell

Price range information: The artist has had works painted in oils sell for as much as $4.6 milion dollars. Etchings start around $500 and go to $3,000. Many paintings in gouache and watercolor range from $1,000 to$5,000. Lam has also worked in sculpture but not enough to form a pricing schedule.

 

This last clip does a wonderful job at showing the many races and cultures involved in Lam’s Afro-Cuban style. Poncho Sanchez is a popular jazz musician and band leader whose music we are listening to whilst seeing the Surrealist paintings of Wifredo Lam.

 

Happy painting!

D

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