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Focus on: Cuban Concrete Art

Miami— June 03, 2020—Cuban Concrete Art has its origins in the second half of the twentieth-century, when it coincided with the economic development of the island and the modernization of its urban centers. The development of the arts was linked to the progress of the island, a nation that without breaking ties with the past moved decisively toward the future.  Los Diez Pintores Concretos (The Ten Concrete Painters) or Los Diez, as the movement became known in Cuba, flourished at a time marked by the intersection of novelty and tradition, universality, and nationalism. 

With the desire to distance themselves from the historical avant-gardes, Los Diez embraced nonobjective philosophies and aesthetics from neo-plasticism, constructivism, suprematism, and post-cubism.  However, the group sought its own way based on the geometrization of nature, reducing things to their most elemental forms of line and color far from the abstraction itself. Their non-referential compositions were based exclusively on intellectually formulated constructs that pushed abstraction from the purely visual toward the conceptual and phenomenological.

Los Diez was formed by two generations of artists.  Among the established artists associated to the group were Sandu Darié (1908-1991), Luis Martínez Pedro (1910–1989), and Mario Carreño (1913-1999). In 1952, they founded the magazine Noticias de Arte, an art magazine that embodied the interests and activities of Havana’s modernist movement in the early 1950s until it ended after 11 issues.

The group coalesced around Galeria de Arte Color-Luz (Color-Light), which was started in Havana in 1957 by Dolores (Loló) Soldevilla (1901-1971), just after she returned from several years in Paris as Cuba’s cultural attaché. Her partner in the effort, another member of Los Diez, was Pedro de Oraá, an artist, poet, and art critic, born in 1931, who would write a short history of the group.  Los Diez Pintores Concretos was formalized as a group in 1959 through an eponymous exhibition at the Galería Color-Luz. 

Thanks to their apolitical aesthetics, Los Diez’s relationship with the Batista regime was largely amicable but in 1959 when Fidel Castro’s Revolution triumphed in Cuba, the island’s culture changed forever.  The demands of committed revolutionary art resulted in the marginalization of non-figurative trends in government-imposed cultural politics and many abstract and concrete painters fled the country.  In 1961 Los Diez disbanded for good after the closure of their main exhibition space.

To see available works by members of this important group, visit their profile pages: 

Sandu Darié, Luis Martínez Pedro and Loló Soldevilla

Photo: A view of the Galería Color-Luz, Havana, founded by Loló Soldevilla and de Oraá. Courtesy Pedro de Oraá