Appropriating and Synthesizing Cubism and Surrealism: Wifredo Lam’s 1940s Cuban Works

Kelsey Winiarsky

Abstract

As a modernist artist, Wifredo Lam used issues of racial degradation and colonialism as a catalyst to create work that directly addressed issues of colonialism in Cuba. Akin to Picasso’s process of appropriating of African motifs within a modern, Cubist style, Wifredo Lam created and appropriated a pastiche of both Surrealistic and Cubist styles into his 1940s paintings. The utilization of these modern styles engendered Lam’s international reputation while providing him with a powerful, creative outlet to express his struggle as an Afro-Cuban. Through the use of African masks and the Santería religion in his paintings during this time period, Lam reappropriated African motifs to their rightful domain within modern art in addition to commenting on racial inequality brought about through colonialism in Cuba. He further berates colonialism through the image of women in his paintings suggesting that colonialism begat European beauty ideologies, sexual exploitation, and the degradation of the African race within Cuba.

 
Mar 28th, 1:30 PM Mar 28th, 2:45 PM

Appropriating and Synthesizing Cubism and Surrealism: Wifredo Lam’s 1940s Cuban Works

Olscamp 101 A

As a modernist artist, Wifredo Lam used issues of racial degradation and colonialism as a catalyst to create work that directly addressed issues of colonialism in Cuba. Akin to Picasso’s process of appropriating of African motifs within a modern, Cubist style, Wifredo Lam created and appropriated a pastiche of both Surrealistic and Cubist styles into his 1940s paintings. The utilization of these modern styles engendered Lam’s international reputation while providing him with a powerful, creative outlet to express his struggle as an Afro-Cuban. Through the use of African masks and the Santería religion in his paintings during this time period, Lam reappropriated African motifs to their rightful domain within modern art in addition to commenting on racial inequality brought about through colonialism in Cuba. He further berates colonialism through the image of women in his paintings suggesting that colonialism begat European beauty ideologies, sexual exploitation, and the degradation of the African race within Cuba.

http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/africana_studies_conf/2014/afternoonpanels/2