PAMM MUSEUM. Amelia Peláez: The Craft of Modernity Dec. 4, 2013 – Feb. 23, 2014
Dec. 4, 2013 – Feb. 23, 2014
Amelia Peláez: The Craft of Modernity
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will present a focused selection of works by Amelia Peláez del Casal (b. 1896 – d. 1968), one of the most important Cuban painters of the modernist era. Alongside artists such as Carlos Enríquez, Wifredo Lam, Victor Manuel and Fidelio Ponce de León, Peláez personifies the primera vanguardia—the first wave of Cuban artists who traveled to Europe before World War II, where they were exposed to Cubism, Surrealism and other contemporaneous styles. When these artists subsequently returned to the island nation, they introduced the artistic innovations they had adopted abroad and transformed them by incorporating aspects of their native cultural and national identities.
Peláez is best known for brightly colored, quasi-abstract compositions that feature decorative objects and ornamental architectural motifs, evoking the traditional domestic interiors of Havana. This exhibition will take a socio-historical approach, examining Peláez’s work in the context of the changing material culture and urban landscape of Havana during the first half of the 20th century.
Amelia was born in 1896 in Yaguajay, in the former Cuban province of Las Villas (now Sancti Spíritus Province). In 1915, her family moved to Havana, to the La Víboradistrict, and this gave her the opportunity to enter the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes “San Alejandro” at the rather late age of 20 years (students at this academy usually start at 12–13 years of age). She was among Leopoldo Romañach‘s favourite students. By 1924, she exposed her paintings for the first time, along with another Cuban female painter, María Pepa Lamarque. She transferred to Europe in 1927, and established herself in Paris, although she paid short visits to Spain, Italy and other countries.
In Paris, she took drawing courses at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière (1927), and later entered the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and the École du Louvre. In 1931, she started studying with female Russian painter Alexandra Exter. The Zak Gallery hosted her paintings in 1933, and next year she returned to Cuba.
She received a prize in the National Exposition of Painters and Sculptors in 1938, and collaborated with several art magazines in Cuba, such as Orígenes, Nadie Parescia andEspuela de Plata. In 1950 she opened a workshop at San Antonio de los Baños, a small city near Havana, where she dedicated herself, until 1962, to her favourite pastime:pottery. She sent her paintings to the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1951 and 1957, and participated in 1952’s Venice Biennale. In 1958 she was a guest of honour and integrated the International Jury of the first Inter-American Paints and Drawing Biennale.
Aside from painting and pottery, she dedicated time to murals, located mainly at different schools in Cuba. Her most important works of this type are a 65-foot-tall (20 m) ceramic mural at the Cuban Ministry of Internal Affairs (1953) and the facade of the Habana Hilton hotel in 1957.
- Carmen Pelaez: A Very Cuban Night (huffingtonpost.com)