Cuban art in the international market. Emerging Cuban artists in the US. Race and racism in Cuban art. Those are some of the topics that grabbed Cuban Art News readers’ attention in 2019.
But the top spot overwhelmingly goes to our preview of the 2019 Havana Biennial. Published in January, it was one of the first stories about the Biennial to appear internationally in English as well as Spanish. “First Look” was our most popular story by far, drawing traffic well into the summer.
Other Biennial stories made the lists for Top 5 and runners up, including previews for Detrás del muro, for exhibitions at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and independent and collateral exhibitions and events.
Here’s our recap of Cuban art in 2019, through the most popular stories on Cuban Art News.
THE TOP 5 STORIES OF 2019
1. First Look: The 2019 Havana Biennial
January 16, 2019
Postponed due to damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, the long-awaited 13th Havana Biennial ran April 12–May 12, 2019. Our early coverage included previews of projects in Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas, marking the first Biennial to extend beyond Havana.
Appearing in January, “First Look” was not only early, it was one of the rare Biennial previews published in English. Those factors made it a go-to resource for the first half of the year, and it continued to draw traffic long after the Biennial ended. It was the year’s most popular story, by a factor of almost 2 to 1.
2. For Cuban Art, 2019 Opens with a Positive Forecast
January 2, 2019
Readers turned an attentive eye to art-market news in 2019, making this January story the second most-read article of the year. This continues a trend of last year, which saw two market-related stories in the Top 5.
This year’s #2 story reports an “Art Market Insight” study of Cuban art by the French database Artprice. Collectors, Artprice noted, can “access major works by well-established artists at cheaper prices than those asked for major European or American signatures of the same generations.”
3. Cuban Roots: 6 Artists to Watch
June 24, 2019
Whether on the island or abroad, emerging artists are a consistently popular topic among Cuban Art News readers. This past summer, we asked Amy Galpin, curator at the Frost Art Museum in Miami, for her thoughts on artists to watch.
Reflecting a broadening relationship between artists on the island and in the US, Galpin’s picks included both US-born artists of Cuban descent and artists born on the island but trained in the US.
4. In Havana, a Look at Race and Racism in Cuban Art
June 19, 2019
At the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, curator Roberto Cobas Amate, together with his colleague, curator Laura Arañó Arencibia, walked us through “Nada Personal” (Nothing Personal), their investigation of race and racism in more than two centuries of Cuban art.
“One of the grandest things the Revolution wanted to achieve was to abolish racial discrimination,” Cobas Amate says in the conversation. “At that moment, it looked like it would succeed.”
5. Biennial Preview: “Detrás del Muro”
February 27, 2019
Since its debut in the 2012 Havana Biennial, the open-air art exhibition Detrás del Muro (Behind the Wall) has been a crowd-pleasing favorite among Biennial visitors and habaneros alike. In an email interview, Detrás del Muro curator and producer Juan Delgado talked about this year’s edition and the project’s expanding role in the Cuban art scene.
“No matter how static a work might be,” Delgado wrote, when it is installed as a public project in Detrás del Muro, it acquires another quality. “In this context,” he said, “it unfolds before the viewer as a living process.
“The city offers a storyline, and our restless artists want to deepen it.”
AND THE 5 RUNNERS UP
6. Havana Biennial Preview: Independent, Collateral, and Official
April 10, 2019
Much of the creative energy of the 2019 Havana Biennial was generated by exhibitions and events in held in private art spaces and studios. Days before the Biennial opened, we previewed some of the most interesting exhibitions and events at independent spaces and collateral events presented by collateral participants in the official Biennial—from El Espacio Aglutinador to Factoría Habana.
7. Barron’s Finds Opportunities in Contemporary Cuban Art
October 19, 2019
Echoing the optimistic forecast that opened 2019, the US financial weekly Barron’s found Cuban art to be an attractive investment. “Auction houses in the U.S. and elsewhere are beginning to feature Cubans, and prices are on the rise,” the writer noted.
8. At the Museo Nacional in Havana, 5 Shows Explore Cuban History & “Cubanidad”
March 27, 2019
Another Havana Biennial preview to reach out Top 10. Later in the year, we covered each of the shows in depth, including Nada Personal (#4 in our Top 5).
9. The State of the (Cuban) Art – One Curator’s View
February 13, 2019
Curator and art historian Carol Damian speaks with Irina Pérez about Cuban art and artists in Miami, the evolving position of Cuban art in the international art world, and the exhibition Carlos Estévez: Entelechy, Works from 1992 to 2018.
10. Havana in the Trump Years – A Conversation with Cristina Vives
August 7, 2019
A conversation about the current art scene in Havana with the longtime curator and writer, known in Havana for the exhibitions presented by the private art space Estudio Figueroa-Vives in collaboration with the Norwegian Embassy—and in the US for Nkame, the acclaimed retrospective of master printmaker Belkis Ayón.