Monday December 11, 2017

Bookshelf: Cuban Contemporary Art, Design, Great Houses, and of Course, Padura

A round-up of recent publications that take the island as their starting point

Courtesy Factoría Habana

The Spaces Between: Contemporary Art from Havana. By Antonio Eligio Fernández (Tonel), Keith Wallace, and Cecilia Andersson (Black Dog Publishing). Cuba’s thriving art scene snaps into focus in this exploration of emerging and established artists working in Havana today. The companion volume to the exhibition of the same name, The Spaces Between provides a contextual account of Cuban art in the past three decades, as well as tracing art trends and issues that have emerged on the island in the past decade.

Courtesy University Press of Florida

Afro-Cuban Religious Arts: Popular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería. By Kristine Juncker (University Press of Florida). Coming mid-August, this book traces four generations of women from one Afro-Cuban religious family, following them from an island plantation in the 1880s to a religious center in New York’s Spanish Harlem in the 1960s. Portraits, sculptures, and photographs round out the story.

From ¡Mira Cuba!: Antonio Fernández Reboiro, Un retablo para Romeo y Julieta, 1973

Courtesy of Architectural Digest

¡Mira Cuba! The Cuban Poster Art from 1959. Edited by Luigino Bardellotti (Silvana Editoriale). In more than 250 images, written contributions by graphic artists like Olivio Martínez, Pepe Menendez, and Rafael Morante, as well as Leonardo Padura, this colorful volume follows the trajectory of Cuban poster art from the heady days just after the Revolution through the influences of Pop Art, the psychedelic era, and beyond. According to Architectural Digest, the book “surveys how the poster became a cult form of expression, a way to broadcast new ideas and propaganda to the public—on sidewalks, billboards, in front of movie theaters—through humor, irony, and an explosion of color.” AD is also offering a slide show of images here.

D´Disegno. Respuesta cubana! By Concha Fontenla (Factoría Habana). Early last month Factoría Habana celebrated the launch of this volume, the catalogue for its provocative exhibition of the same title, which was presented last autumn. Exploring design as both a means of production and an aesthetic expression, the show—and the catalogue—feature the work of 20 artists, including Eduardo Ponjuán, Adrana Arronte, Nelson Poce, and José Ángel Toirac. This isn’t a title that Amazon is carrying—yet—but it’s available at Factoría Habana, and perhaps elsewhere in Havana.

Courtesy southflorida.com

Cuba Then: Rare and Classic Images from the Ramiro Fernández Collection. By Ramiro Fernández with an introduction by Richard Blanco (Monacelli Press). Coming to the U.S. as an eight-year-old, Fernández went on to enjoy a long career as a photo editor at magazines like Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. That eye for an unforgettable image is evident in this selection of historical photographs of life on the island, from early daguerrotypes to glamorous shots of movie stars, mobsters, and showgirls.

Courtesy Rizzoli

Great Houses of Havana: A Century of Cuban Style. By Hermes Mallea (Monacelli Press). This book was published in 2011, but it came to mind because Mallea, a New York architect, joined Fernández in some presentations about their respective books this spring. And it gives us the opportunity to mention Mallea’s next publication: Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour, due out in October from Rizzoli.

Handbook on Cuban History, Literature, and the Arts: New Perspectives on Historical and Contemporary Social Change. Edited by Mauricio A. Font and Araceli Tinajero (Paradigm Publishers) If the title of this volume doesn’t immediately suggest a scholarly reference book, its hefty $195 price tag probably will. That said, this volume, edited by two eminent U.S.-based scholars, offers interesting perspectives on Cuban national identity, the relation between the Cuban state and intellectuals, and new framings of gender, race, and sexual orientation. It also examines changes in music, literature, cinema, and theater for a more complete understanding of Cuba’s contemporary transformations.

Courtesy Walmart

The Man Who Loved Dogs: A Novel. By Leonardo Padura, translated by Anna Kushner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). For summer reading that’s intelligent as well as entertaining, there’s no one more adept than Leonardo Padura. “This massive novel must be his masterpiece,” wrote the Times of London. “With equal assurance and brio, Padura travels between Stalin’s Moscow, the Mexico of Frida Kahlo, and Spain and France in the turbulent years between the wars, to engineer an epic of lost illusions. Maginficent.”

Emilio Heredia, el Museo Nacional y las Memorias de un Comisionado. We close with this 2013 book by our Havana editor, Abelardo Mena, former curator of research at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Written in the context of the hundredth anniversary of the museum’s founding, it was published in part by Ediciones Boloña of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana. The book is now available online free of charge, in Spanish, thanks to the website Estudios Culturales, edited and managed from Miami by José Ramon Alonso, scholar of Cuban art in the 1940s. (See his articles about María Luisa Gómez Mena, published in Cuban Art News earlier this year.) Each of the following links offers access to several chapters of content, including the original report written in 1913 by Emilio Heredia, the museum’s founder and first director, and several indexes that identify the key sociopolitical figures of the day and their relationships.

"Una República a través de sus objetos"       

Cronología de Emilio Heredia    

Memorias del Comisionado Emilio Heredia

Índices, una aclaración necesaria.       

Índice de Materias       

Índice Onomástico de Donantes       

Índice de Donantes Institucionales       

Índice de Donantes Privados