Cuba for

Art Lovers

Heavily influenced by both early Classicism and innovative European movements, Cuba’s rich artistic heritage also draws on Afro-Cuban spiritualism and a yearning for a criollo identity. More recently, avant- garde artists have blossomed under state sponsorship, and local street artists have responded to the boom in tourism.

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t A photographic work by Enrique Rottenberg on display in Fábrica de Arte

Vanguardia Movement

Inspired by independence and a search for a genuine Cuban identity, early 20th-century art reflected the nation’s new cosmopolitanism, as many artists returned from study abroad. The Vanguardia movement valued Modernist experimentation above academic training. Carlos Enriquez’s The Abduction of the Mulattas is perhaps the most quintessential work from this era. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes displays pieces by Vanguardia artists including Wilfredo Lam and Amelia Peláez.

Instituto Superior de Arte

Since the revolution, the state-run Instituto Superior de Arte has trained contemporary artists. The stormy post-revolutionary decades are reflected in shifting moods of hope and despair in graduates’ artworks, from Servando Cabrera Moreno’s buoyant Peasant militia to Antonia Eiriz’s grotesque statements on the anguish of censorship. A new generation of artists are stretching the boundaries of both eroticism and political statement. Head to Fábrica de Arte to see some of these works.

Stylistic Classicism

The San Alejandro Fine Arts Academy, founded in 1818 under the direction of French artiste Juan Bautiste Vermay, trained virtually every notable 19th-century Cuban artist. Echoing classical European styles of the era, the school focused on an idealized version of Cuba with romanticized rural scenes, such as Esteban Chartrand’s works titled Paisaje cubano (Cuban landscape). The Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is part of Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, displays hundreds of pieces by Cuban artists painted during colonial rule, including many heavily stylized works.

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Insider Tip

Unknown Galleries

Visitors can join tours of off-beat galleries, such as Galería Continua and René Peña’s gallery, with Cuba Art Tours (

Cuba for Art Lovers


Offbeat Art Venues

Fábrica de Arte

Specializes in changing galleries of provocative avant-garde art.


An entire area adorned with whimsical ceramics.

Callejón de Hamel

Fantastical street art inspired by the Santería religion.

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