Appraising Cuban Art: An Introduction

Cuban art is as diverse as the island’s population. It is a combination of a myriad of styles and influences, including African, European, South American and North American elements. This guide will help you to prepare for having your Cuban art appraised.

Anubis Appraisal & Estate Services, Inc. provides USPAP compliant appraisals of Cuban art for insurance coverage, insurance loss/damage, estate and probate, and equal distribution purposes. Tara Ana Finley prepared this outline of Cuban history to assist collectors with a background in Cuban art. 

Philippe Chartrand (1825-1889)
Philippe Chartrand (1825-1889)


Colonial Art: Cuban art in the western sense begins during the colonial era, the 400 years during which the island was under Spanish control. Paintings from this time period are mostly religious in theme though toward the end of the 19th century, landscape painting became the preference for artists. The true flourishing of Cuban art did not happen until the early 20th Century.

The Vanguard: In the 1920’s, Cuban artists began to study and work in Paris and Madrid. In Europe, they encountered the modernist movement and, borrowing elements from surrealism, cubism and primitivism, created a uniquely Cuban aesthetic. This time period is called the Vanguard, which is a familiar term for anyone who has encountered the art of Cuba. Notable artists include Eduardo Abela, Victor Manuel, Fidelio Ponce de Leon, Carlos Enriquez, and Amelia Pelaez, among others.  These artists were mostly educated in Europe and used elements from the European modernist movements to portray an idyllic “criollo” subject matter. Victor Manuel is an excellent example of this trend. Primitivist modern painters like Paul Gaugin and Paul Cezanne heavily influenced his sensual portraits of “Gitanas”, or gypsies, usually set against a rural backdrop.

Eduardo Abela
Eduardo Abela (1889-1965) Guajiros
Amelia Pelaez
Amelia Pelaez (1896-1968) Still Life
Víctor Manuel
Víctor Manuel (1897–1969) La Gitana Tropical







One of the most notable Cuban artists is Wifredo Lam. While he lived and worked around the same time as the vanguard artists, he was not directly involved in the movement. His Chinese, Spanish and African heritage particularly influenced his work, as well as his time in Spain and France. During his time in Paris, he became good friends with Pablo Picasso, who awakened his interest in African art and sculpture. Lam’s work is a result of a combination of influences, most notably that of Santeria ritual imagery. His paintings are an enduring example of the power of modernism with images that capture the imagination and are visually stunning.

Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) The Jungle

Post-Revolutionary Art:  The island’s art history only becomes more interesting with the onset of the Revolution in 1959, after which artists were closely monitored by and encouraged to create propaganda for the state. Most of the art produced during this period highlights the leaders of the revolutionary movement dressed in their traditional military fatigues but with a colorful twist.

René Mederos (1933-1996)
René Mederos (1933-1996) Che
Alfredo Rostgaard (1943-2004)
Alfredo Rostgaard (1943-2004) Radiant Che
René Mederos (1933-1996)
René Mederos (1933-1996) Guerrilla Fighter
Raúl Martínez (1927-1995)
Raúl Martínez (1927-1995) Repeticiones con Bandera

Roberto Fabelo (Born 1950) Gran Angel
Roberto Fabelo (Born 1950) Gran Angel

Contemporary Art: Cuban art is a fascinating subject that encompasses many talented and influential artists throughout the history of the island. The contemporary movement gave birth to the conceptual movement, focusing artists who move away from the traditional artistic practices of the island. This created a wide variety of contemporary artists with a shared goal of taking risks to express their beliefs and emotions. 

Manuel Mendive (born 1944)
Manuel Mendive (born 1944)

Anubis Appraisal & Estate Service, Inc. specializes in the appraisal and sale of Cuban art. Want to have your Cuban art appraised or identified? Call Tara Finley, ISA AM President of Anubis Appraisal to schedule an consultation today!

(305) 446-1820 (Office) (Email)

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