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Wifredo Lam

Las Villas, Cuba 1902 - 1982


Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) was one of the very few artists from beyond the borders of the American and European art worlds to become a genuine star in those locales in the mid-20th century.  Lam’s work had a decidedly European look—Lam traveled to Spain in the 1920s and later moved to France, where he became closely acquainted with Pablo Picasso and the leading figures of the Surrealist movement, but his work also was undeniably Cuban in its mythology and cultural references.  In 1941, he fled the war in Europe and returned to Cuba, where he rediscovered the Afro-Caribbean myths, art forms and religious practices that had influenced his early childhood. Lam hybridized mainstream European Modernism with these non-Western traditions and used the unique visual language that resulted to raise questions of social injustice and redemption.  In the process, he reasserted the vibrant heritage of the African Diaspora, while formulating a poetic intercultural dialogue that remains relevant to this day.


Today, the artist’s works are held in important international collections such as the Tate Gallery in London, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Guggenheim Museum in New York, among others.  

Photo courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art
Portrait of Wifredo Lam, courtesy of The Art Newspaper