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Arte Cubano

At the Brunnier Art Museum
Monday, August 23 to Tuesday, November 2 Sunday, November 21, 2021

El beso (The Kiss), 1999 by Yoan Capote. Bronze, cotton, perfume. Courtesy of Karen and Robert Duncan Collection


Arte Cubano has been extended through Sunday, November 21!


About the Exhibition

Arte Cubano highlights a universally agreed-upon characteristic of the island’s art: an incredible diversity. Cuban art is so rich in large part because of its diverse cultural blend of African, European, and Latin/Caribbean influences. Add to these traditional roots the revolution of 1959, and Cuban art occupies a unique aesthetic place in the contemporary art world.

Oracion domestica (Domestic Prayer), 2008 by Roberto Fabelo. Polychrome bronze. Courtesy of Kathryn and Marc LeBaron Private CollectionBuilding on the impetus created by recent reconciliations between the governments of the United States and Cuba, this timely exhibition reflects more than twenty-five Cuban artists’ ruminations on the quotidian, social, and political realities of the island and the contemporary world. The island geography and political intensity of Cuba inform the work in a way that is immediately identifiable, often concealing coded, even subversive, ideas while simultaneously celebrating the richness of Cuba’s cultural identity. Peeling away the layers of Cuban art often reveals a story of struggle caused by the US embargo and its economic and political consequences, the social upheaval that a true revolution produces.

The exhibition’s artists includes Lidzie Alvisa, José Bedia, Los Carpinteros, Yoan Capote, Roberto Fabelo, Diana Fonseca, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Kcho, Sandra Ramos, Esterio Segura, and more. Spanning several generations, these contemporary Cuban artists come from an unusual place: a country embargoed by our own because of its socialist revolution. All of the artists in this collection grew up in socialist Cuba, and many graduated from the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte, built at the beginning of the revolution, Havana’s equally excellent San Alejandro Art Academy or the Escuela Nacional de Arte. Others graduated from local art schools. Despite their disparate backgrounds, aesthetic sensibilities, subject matter, materials, and styles, there is something uniquely Cuban about the art in this collection.

The intensity and depth of meaning, with the specific physical and political context, make Cuban art immediately identifiable and powerful, and an important voice in the art world today. Most of all, the art is connected to Cuba itself. Both the island and the art are an unusual mix of the traditional and the modern, of the ordinary and the special, of simplicity and incredible complexity. The same can be said for the politics, the literature, the architecture, and the people. It confounds and entrances, it is rejecting and embracing.


TOP IMAGE: El beso (The Kiss), 1999 by Yoan Capote. Bronze, cotton, perfume. Courtesy of Karen and Robert Duncan Collection

SECOND IMAGE: Oracion domestica (Domestic prayer), 2008 by Roberto Fabelo. Polychrome bronze. Courtesy of Kathryn and Marc LeBaron Private Collection

BELOW: Pasa Tiempo (Pastime), 2008 by Diana Fonseca. Lambda print. Courtesy of Karen and Robert Duncan Collection


Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged but not required. Events listed below will be at the Brunnier Art Museum unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Sunday Tours with the University Museums

All Sunday Tours start at 2:00 pm, are 30 minutes long, and are led by a curator, docent, or educator.

Arte Cubano Drawings & Illustrations
August 29

Arte Cubano Sculptures
September 5

Bilingual Arte Cubano Tour
October 10 & 24

Arte Cubano Prints
October 31


Gallery Walk of Arte Cubano, with Anne Pagel, Curator, Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum, Robert and Karen Duncan Collection

Sunday, September 12, 2:00-3:00 pm

Gain a unique perspective from Anne Pagel, the curator of the private lender’s collection, as she discusses the artists included in Arte Cubano. This gallery walk will guide visitors through the museum to explore the diverse art and artists in the exhibition. 


Buena Vista Social Club Film Screening

Thursday, September 16, 7:00-9:00 pm

Experience the sounds of Cuba alongside the art of Cuba with an evening screening of the acclaimed documentary Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

Film Description: Traveling from the streets of Havana to the stage of Carnegie Hall, this documentary captures a forgotten generation of Cuba’s brightest musical talents as they encounter world fame. They play a jazz-inflected mix of cha-cha, mambo, bolero, and other traditional Latin American styles, and record an album that wins a Grammy, making them an international phenomenon.


The Right to Have Rights: Cuban Artists Confront the State, with Coco Fusco, nationally recognized interdisciplinary artist and writer

Thursday, September 23, 6:00-7:00 pm on Zoom (check back for link)

Fusco will discuss the recent efforts of "artivists" in Cuba to advocate for expanded expressive freedoms and civil rights. She will focus primarily on the activities of 27N and the San Isidro Movement.


Lecture by Dr. Odette Casamayor-Cisneros

Friday, October 15, 4:00 pm

More information coming soon


Visit the Brunnier Art Museum

Wednesday - Friday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Closed to the public Monday & Tuesday. ISU curriculum tours may be scheduled on these days with a 2-week notice.

Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 4 & 5, Labor Day (University Holiday)

Brunnier Art Museum closes at the end of the day Sunday, Nov. 21 and will reopen Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

Address: Scheman Building (2nd Floor), 1805 Center Drive, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free, however there is a suggested donation of $8.




The exhibition is hosted by University Museums with generous support from Jim and Marcia Borel, Barbara and Roger Bruene, Jane Cox, Renate and H. Dieter Dellmann, Betty and Dennis Keeney, Sue and Larry Koehrsen, Jerry and Karen Kolschowsky, Sarah Nusser and Michael King, and University Museums membership. Significant support for the exhibition was also awarded by the J. W. Fisher Endowed Arts Outreach Fund.

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