Spring 2015 Catalogue

Grupo Antillano | The Art of Afro-Cuba

$49.95. Available for purchase at the Cooper Gallery (cash or check), the Harvard Book Store, and online through University of Pittsburgh Press.





Edited by Alejandro de la Fuente

This bilingual (English and Spanish) volume offers the first comprehensive study of Grupo Antillano, an Afro-Cuban visual arts and cultural movement that thrived between 1978 and 1983 and has been virtually erased from Cuban cultural and artistic history. Grupo Antillano articulated a vision of Cuban culture that underscored the importance of Africa and of Afro-Caribbean influences in the formation of the Cuban nation. In contrast to the official characterization of Santeria and other African religious and cultural practices as primitive and outdated during the 1970s, Grupo Antillano valiantly proclaimed the centrality of African practices in national culture. They viewed Africa and the surrounding Caribbean as a vibrant, ongoing, and vital influence that continued to define what it meant to be Cuban. Some Afro-Cuban intellectuals proclaimed that a “new,” authentic Cuban art (radical, popular, black) had been born. This book seeks to recover and to honor that art.

Grupo Antillano is divided into five sections. The first offers testimonials by artists and intellectuals linked to Grupo Antillano, including its creator, Rafael Queneditt. The second section contains essays by Cuban and American art critics and historians. The third uses documents, catalogs, photographs, and press notes to reconstruct the exhibits of Grupo Antillano between 1978 and 1983. A fourth section examines the work of each of the artists in the group, including Cuba’s most famous painter Wifredo Lam, who worked with Grupo Antillano between 1979 and 1982, the year of his death. The final section follows contemporary artists who participate in an exhibit that pays tribute to the work of Grupo Antillano.

Alejandro de la Fuente is the Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics and professor of African and African American studies at Harvard University and director of the Institute of Afro-Latin American Studies in the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He is the author of Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century and A Nation for All: Race, Inequality, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba, and he is the editor of Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art. De la Fuente is also cocurator of the art exhibit Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art, which was presented in Havana, Pittsburgh, New York City, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.