Sunday June 17, 2018

Bookshelf: Cuban Art, Architecture, Music, Cooking, and More

Something for everyone—and a few holiday gift ideas—in these recent publications

Luis Cruz Azaceta, Rafter: The Little House, 1993

Courtesy The Farber Collection

Luis Cruz Azaceta. By Alejandro Anreus, with a Foreword by Chon A. Noriega (University of Minnesota Press). This first book on the life and work of Cuban American Luis Cruz Azaceta charts the artist’s career and the themes he explores in his work. Born in Cuba in 1942, Cruz Azaceta emigrated to the U.S. in 1960 at age 18. The experience of exile is frequently expressed in the artist’s agonized self-portraits. Over the years, the artist’s style has evolved, “moving from the flat, pop style of his early canvases, through neo-Expressionism, and into the abstraction of his more recent work.” Yet throughout, his concern with current events is a constant, as he documents and comments on “the wounds and screams” of the human condition. Lavishly illustrated, this is a thoughtful, in-depth biography of an important contemporary artist.

Life Streams: Alberto Rey’s Cuban and American Art. Edited by Lynette M. F. Bosch and Mark Denaci (SUNY Press). A biography and contextual study of the work of Cuban-born artist Alberto Rey (b. 1960, Havana). From his home in upstate New York, Rey travels widely throughout the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. His paintings, videos, sculptures, and installations explore issues of identity, cultural diversity, environmental studies, and global sustainability, including his recent study of fish species.

Sara González. Con apuros y paciencia. Edited by Mayra Martínez, with Olga Marta Pérez, Sigfredo Ariel, and Reynaldo González, and an introduction by artist Diana Balboa (Ediciones Bagua, Madrid). An homage to the celebrated Cuban singer Sara González (1949–2012), one of the founders of the nueva trova movement, this recently released volume includes texts by some of her close friends—among them, Silvio Rodríguez, Chico Buarque, and Noel Nicola—along with interviews, song lyrics, photographs, and graphic works dedicated to her.

My Havana: The Musical City of Carlos Varela. Edited by Maria Caridad Cumaná, Karen Dubinsky, and Xenia Reloba de la Cruz, with a Foreword by Jackson Browne; translated by Ana Elena Arazoza (University of Toronto Press). Continuing the spirit of nueva trova, My Havana is a lyrical exploration of the life and work of Carlos Varela (b. 1963, Havana), and of the vibrant musical, literary, and cinematic culture of his generation. Often considered “Cuba’s  Bob Dylan,” Varela is legendary for the intense political honesty of his lyrics. This book includes essays by writers in Cuba, North America, and the UK that explore the history and cultural politics of contemporary Cuba, plus an extended interview with Varela, a bibliography, and English translations of his recorded song lyrics.

Havana Modern: Twentieth-Century Architecture and Interiors. By Michael Connors , with photography by Nestor Marti, and Foreword by architect Ricardo Porro. Caribbean design expert and historian Michael Connors guides readers on a tour of some of Havana’s architecturally important private homes and buildings that have been meticulously preserved. Most have not been photographed previously and are not open to visitors. This book represents the modern movement in Cuban architecture, from art nouveau and art deco to the flowering of high modernism just before the Revolution, spanning from the early 1900s to 1965.

Havana. Autos and Architecture / Habana. Autos y Arquitectura. By Norman Foster and Mauricio Vicent, with a prologue by Dr.  Eusebio Leal Spengler and photographs by Nigel Young and Luc Chessex (Madrid: Ivorypress, 2014). During his visits to Havana over the past ten years, prize-winning British architect Norman Foster has encountered a variety of Cuban artists and architects. Foster observes: “In the living theatre that is Havana today, the stage is the street, the scenery is the façades of buildings and the players, who bring the whole drama to life, are the colourful cars and people.” In this volume, historic and current photographs document Cuba’s love affair with classic cars. Spanish journalist Mauricio Vicent has gathered memories of some of the owners of these autos, blending automobiles and architecture to guide us through Cuba’s tumultuous history.

The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors and History. By Ana Sofía Peláez, with photography by Ellen Silverman (St. Martin's Press). If our story about Nitza Villapol, the “Cuban Julia Child,” whetted your appetite for Cuban cuisine, here’s another culinary oeuvre that arrives just in time to inspire your holiday table. With more than 100 recipes, The Cuban Table is a comprehensive, contemporary overview of Cuban food and culture as recounted by serious home cooks and professional chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers. Cuban-American food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez and award-winning photographer Ellen Silverman traveled through Cuba, Miami, and New York to document and learn about traditional Cuban cooking from a wide range of authentic sources. An ideal gift for the serious cooks on your holiday list.

Raúl Martínez. Roses and Stars1972

Courtesy The Farber Collection

Raúl Martínez 2015 Calendar. The Center for Cuban Studies is dedicating their 2015 calendar to the works of Cuban painter Raúl Martínez (1927–1995). A year-round celebration of art, this 9”x12” wall calendar offers thirteen images that explore many aspects of the artist’s varied career: abstraction, Pop, posters, graphics, photography. It also includes an introductory essay and biographical note by Corina Matamoros, Curator, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, and author of the authoritative study Raúl Martínez: la gran familia, also available from the Center.

Nadine Covert is a specialist in visual arts media with a focus on documentaries. She was for many years the Executive Director of the Educational Film Library Association (EFLA) and Director of its American Film Festival, then the major documentary competition in the U.S. She later became director of the Program for Art on Film, a joint venture of the J. Paul Getty Trust and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Covert has served on the board of the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, and is currently a consultant to the Montreal International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA).