Cuban artists, open to the winds of change and to outside influences, filtered the movement born in Paris through the dazzling beauty of Caribbean nature and made the art their own. As David Unger says in the preface, “Havana Deco is a paean to Havana’s gorgeous architectural gems of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, the heyday of the world Art Deco rage. Each city puts its own stamp on a movement.
Deco is sultrier in Havana, jazzed up, with Afro-Cuban elements especially in its photography, painting, and graphic arts. Many of the decorative motifs like fruits, birds and arabesques are Latinized and Deco structures are often flanked by palms and banana trees. Though most of the marble was imported, doorways, furniture, and interiors make frequent use of cedar and mahogany, Cuba’s precious native trees.
By including furniture, light fixtures, grill work, doorways, and tiles, Alejandro Alonso, Pedro Contreras, and Martino Faguioli have created a stunning view of how Deco took Havana by storm in the pre-Castro years. This book bears testimony to the need to protect and restore Havana’s Deco past to the same degree that the guardians of Cuba’s architectural history have restored and replenished dozens of buildings in Habana Vieja (named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982). Until the day when everyone can see these gems firsthand, this lovingly photographed and written book offers a guided tour.
TITLE: HAVANA DECO
AUTHORS: ALEJANDRO G. ALONSO, PEDRO CONTRERAS, MARTINO FAGIUOLI
PUBLICATION DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 2007
PAGES: 192 PAGES
CLOTH ART: 300 COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS
PRICE: $39.95 US/$50.00 CAN
ALEJANDRO G. ALONSO is a critic, journalist, curator, and winner of the Premio Nacional de la Crítica Guy Pérez Cisneros. He is the author of many monographs, essays, and articles on Cuban art and curated the exhibition “Novecento Cubano” in Milan, 1995. The cultural editor of Periódico Juventud Rebelde for eighteen years, he is the founder, director, and curator of the Museo Nacional de la Cerámica Artística Cubana.
PEDRO CONTRERAS is an art historian who works at the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales in Havana. A graduate of the Escuela de Artes y Letras of the Universidad de La Habana and a graduate in painting of the Academia de San Alejandro, he is a graphic designer and illustrator for Cuba’s major publications. He has curated art exhibitions in Cuba and abroad and serves on national visual arts juries.
MARTINO FAGIUOLI is a well-known Italian photographer. In 1990, a vacation in Cuba marked the beginning of a love affair with the Caribbean island and led to the publication of several books, including Casas y Cosas de Cuba, an anthology of architectural styles; American Dream Car in Cuba, a record of the magnificent period automobiles still circulating throughout the island; and Isla Grande, a journey among the people of Cuba and its dreams.
Norton Books for Architects & Designers
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