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Posted May 31, 2009 by publisher in Cuban Art

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By: Stephanie Simon | NY1.com

Some Cuban arts experts are welcoming the changing political climate and its evolving effect on the art market. NY1’s Stephanie SImon filed the following report.

Alberto Magnan owns an art gallery in Chelsea, but he’s never far from his homeland of Cuba. In March, Alberto helped organize a historic exhibit of Chelsea artists in Havana called “Chelsea Visits Havana.” Magnan told NY1 about this dream three years ago, but this year he was able to make it a reality. He believes a change in the White House helped.

“I felt that there was a lot of change happening in Havana a lot more freedom. People were actually very excited about Obama. They were asking us questions about what we thought he was going to do, like I said people were wearing Obama T-shirts and walking in the streets,” said Magnan. “And then on the other hand, we asked them if there was anything that they did not want us to show and the museum turned around and said no you’re welcome to show any art, whether it’s political, which I found pretty amazing. I think it’s baby steps, but culture will probably bring a lot of change.”

Magnan’s exhibit took place during the Havana Biennial. It was the first time in 50 years a large group of American artists showed their work in the communist island nation. He and his wife Dara Metz came up with the idea after many trips to Cuba.

“So what we’d notice is that whenever we’d bring back an Art Forum, and Art News, or an American Newspaper or magazine, it would actually get worn out because it would be passed between all the artists in Cuba,” said Magnan.

Since Cuban artists couldn’t come to Chelsea, they brought the Chelsea arts scene to Cuba instead. Collector Howard Farber was on the trip and says he does not believe cultural exchange can improve international relations, but does not damper his passion for Cuban art.

“I think that for collectors who are in the know, they can see the creative possibility and potential of Cuban contemporary art. I know that this is the best kept secret in the art market. So, I’m going to keep on buying just like I did with other genres in the past. I believe this is the future,” said Farber.

Farber says a good collector is an educated collector so he published a book called Cuba Avante Garde.

“If people want to collect Cuban contemporary art, they have to know what their looking at,” said Farber.

As for the future, encouraged by the success of Chelsea visits Havana, Magnan hopes to organize an exhibit called “Havana visits New York.”

Find Cuban art on Amazon

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 03, 2009 by Maybel

    this is an awesome article. I just returned from cuba on the 27th. Not only did i fall in love with the people and the island, but with their art, and their music. I met people who used to devote their time to art, trying to make a difference. These days they cant even afford a canvass, brushes, or paints! I feel like going back with a supply of this! However, in the varadero market i did find a few people selling their own artwork or that of their friends. one example is this artist: http://www.ofarrill-cuba.com.

    anyway, i found the Havana Journal website b/c i am doing some research on how/whether i can go to cuba, do some photography there, and come back. i know a photography student who perhaps i can ‘hire’ as an assistant if that is possible? I know of a mechanic/driver that perhaps i can hire, etc.

    any advice from anyone would be great!


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