Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana (Havana) A Must See (Part 1)

               The ‘Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana’ is, in my opinion, a must see. You can’t imagine the quantity and quality of works that are under this roof. I suggest you set aside at least a couple of hours for this visit if you want to see it somewhat properly. Being a little more than a tourist and through my Blog I’ve discovered that the art world in Cuba is more than those paintings we see peddlers selling on the streets but I couldn’t imagine the scope of what I would find within the walls of the Bellas Artes.
               The building that the Museum is housed in now was inaugurated in 1954 but it’s not the original building that was used. There are two buildings (since 2001), one dedicated to Cuban art & the other ‘Palacio del Centro Asturiano’ to universal arts….this post is about the Cuban Art building. The museum exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to the contemporary. The original institution was founded on February 23, 1913 by its first director, Emilio Heredia Mora (1872-1917). Two years after his plea for donations on November 1, 1910 in the newspaper La Discusión, support from public & private sectors (artists and collectors…) donated the initial core of their collection. The first location for the Museum was located in a building known as the Antiguo Fronton on the corners of Calle Concordia y Lucena in Centro Habana where previously Jai Alai or Basque Pelota was played.

(A popular sport during the first half of the 20th century in Cuba was Basque Pelota (handball) or Jai Alai. The sport came to Cuba by via the Basques from Spain in 1898 and the first Jai Alai Court was built in Havana (below) in 1901 at the corner of Concordia and Lucena. In Havana the sport disappeared in 1959, you can still find six frontons throughout the state of Florida.)

Jai Alai in Havana in 1904 at the Antiguo Fronton (from the website Conexión cubana)

                   In 1954 the Museum moved to it’s current location, it was designed by the Cuban architect Alfonso Rodriguez Pichardo….it features an inner patio with a fountain in the center. The “Arte Cubano” building is home to in the upwards of 30,000 artworks of which 940 pieces are on permanent exhibition. The three exhibition floors are divided into six sections: Colonial Art (16th – 19th century), Turn of the Century (1894-1927), Emergence of Modern Art (1927-1938), Consolidation of Modern Art (1938-1951), Other Perspectives of Modern Art (1951-1963), and Contemporary Art (1959-present day). On the main floor you’ll find an eatery that serves up light fare and a shop that sells books, magazines and reproductions of some of the more important artworks displayed in the museum.
                   There are way too many pictures to attach to one post so I will split the artworks into two postings….and I still have to many pictures. This post will feature pieces before 1959 and the next one will be art produced after the current revolution.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana,
Calle Trocadero e/ Zulueta y Monserrate,
La Habana Vieja. Ciudad de La Habana,
Tel:(53-7) 861-3858 y 861-5777 
Admission $5.00cuc  (tourists)  $5.00mn  (locals)
Children under 14 free admission
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Tues. – Sat.) 10am-2pm (Sunday)
http://www.bellasartes.co.cu/

1857 Paisaje……Esteban Chartrand (b.Matanza, Cuba 1840 – d.New Jersey, USA 1883)

1878 Fiesta de Nanigos…..M. Puente

1885 La Cocinera Cubana…..Adriana Billini (b.Dominican Republic 1865 – d.Havana 1946)

1885 Una ceiba en San Antonio de Los Baños…..Henry Cleenewerck (b.Watou, Belgium 1818 – d.Brussels 1901)

Voluptuosidad….Guillermo Collazo (b.Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 1850 – d.France 1896)

1893 Embarque de Colon por Bodadilla…..Armando G. Menocal (b.Havana 1863 – d.Havana 1942)

1912 Carretas…..Eduardo Morales (b.Havana 1862 – d.1938) 

1917 Guadaño…..Rafael Lillo 

1928 Caminos de Regla…..Eduardo Abela (b.San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba 1889 – d.Havana 1965)

1929 Gitana Tropical…..Victor Manuel Garcia (b.Havana 1897 – d.Havana 1969)

1930 No Quiero ir al Cielo….Augusto G. Menocal (b.Havana 1899 – d.Havana 1974)

1931 Gundinga….Amelia Pelaez (b.Las Villas, Cuba 1896 – d.Havana 1968)

1936 Las Banistas en la Laguna….Carlos Enriquez (b.Villa Clara, Cuba 1900 – d.Havana 1957)

1937 El Alba….Marcelo Pogolotti (b.Havana 1902 – d.Havana 1988)

1937 Zora….Mariano Rodriguez (b.Havana 1912 – d.Havana 1990)

1938 Campesinos Felices….Carlos Enriquez (b.Villa Clara, Cuba 1900 – d.Havana 1957)

1938 Guajiros….Eduardo Abela (b.San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba 1889 – d.Havana 1965)

1938 Ninos….Fidelio Ponce de Leon (b.Camagüey, Cuba 1895 – d.Havana 1949)

1942 La Cena….Rene Portocarrero (b.Havana 1912 – d.Havana 1985)

1944 Paisaje no.5….Rene Portocarrero (b.Havana 1912 – d.Havana 1985)

1945 Huracan….Wilfredo Lam (b.Sagua La Grande, Cuba 1902 – d.Paris, France 1982)

1946 Virgen de la Caridad….Roberto Diago (b.Havana 1920 – d.Madrid, Spain 1955)

1949 Figura de Dama….Federico Beltran Masses (b.Guaira de la Melena, Cuba 1885 – d.Barcelona, Spain 1949)

1949 Mujer Sentada….Wilfredo Lam (b.Sagua La Grande, Cuba 1902 – d.Paris, France 1982)

1950 No Title…..Jose Mijares (b.Havana 1921 – d.Miami, USA 2004)