Clara Porset

 Posted by on July 7, 2016
Jul 072016
 

Nespresso is running an ad for Cuban Coffee. On Sunday June 26, 2016, they took out a full page ad using Hemingway’s home in Havana as the perfect backdrop. There in the photo were two exquisite Clara Porset chairs. I thought it time to talk about her.

Courtesy Museo Franz Mayer, Mexico D.F.

Courtesy Museo Franz Mayer, Mexico D.F.

Clara María del Carmen Magdalena Porset y Dumás was born in Matanzas, Cuba on May 25, 1895.

Born into wealth she had the luxury to be educated in New York at Columbia University’s School of Fine Arts, as well as in Paris, where she attended classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the Sorbonne, and the Louvre.

In 1940 Porset made a cheaper version of William Spratlings Butaque chair. These are the ones in Hemingway's home.

In 1940 Porset made a cheaper version of William Spratlings Butaque chair. These are the ones in Hemingway’s home.

In 1922 she was exposed to the Bauhaus school of design and had hoped to study in Germany, however, Hitler was on his way to power and her dream went unrealized. During this period she met Walter Gropius and Hans Emil “Hannes” Meyer who’s continued correspondence and friendship would help her to finally achieve her goals of Bauhaus study.

In 1932 Porset returned to Cuba and began working as an interior designer, designing for both private and public clients. She often gave lectures with the goal of educating the Cuban public about the principles of modern design. She also worked actively to promote her profession, arguing that the role of the interior or furniture designer was just as important as that of the architect.

However, she was a leftists in a country ruled by the Machado dictatorship. Under the advice of Gropius and Meyer she left for the United States and spent a summer at Black Mountain College in North Carolina where, she took a course taught by Josef Albers (modeled closely upon the course he had taught at the Bauhaus school).

Porset would adhere to the tenets of Bauhaus throughout her life.

Porset Chairs

The revolution in Cuba kept Porset from returning.  She settled in Mexico with her husband, the painter and muralist Xavier Guerrero.

Porset returned to Cuba in 1960 and received commissions from Che Guevera.  She also designed furniture for the Camilio Cienfuegos School, a teacher training school in Sierra Maestra. She designed furniture for the National Art School designed by  architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti.

During this time she was also designing furnishings based on the traditions of Cuban colonial furniture, with curved shapes, wicker work, and fabrics.

Her number-one priority was the founding in Cuba of a School of Industrial Design, but due to outside circumstances the school was never realized.

She eventually returned to Mexico where, on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she founded a School of Industrial Design.

Dorset died in Mexico in 1981.

The Miguelito Chair. Photo courtesy of Factory Havana

The Miguelito Chair. Photo courtesy of Factoria Habana

Photo courtesy of Factoria Habana

Photo courtesy of Factoria Habana

In 2016 there was a retrospective of Clara Porset’s work at the Havana Design Biennial.  Designboom did a wonderful article on the retrospective that you can read here.

Casa de Velazquez

 Posted by on July 7, 2016
Jul 072016
 
Casa de Velazquez

Parque Cespedes Santiago de Cuba Diego Valazquez was the first governor of Cuba.  He was a cruel despot by all accounts, but his home, built in 1515 still stands as the oldest colonial-era house on the island. The home is of the Mudéjar style (or Hispanic-Moorish).  This style is characterized by its balconies, carved ceilings and the intricate geometric patterns found in the tile, metalwork and even the furniture. The one outstanding characteristic of the Velazquez house are its celosos.  They greet you at the front door, covering the second floor balcony, and then are found throughout the house screening Continue Reading

Parque del Ajedrez or Chess Park

 Posted by on July 6, 2016
Jul 062016
 
Parque del Ajedrez or Chess Park

Santo Tomás and Enramada Streets Santiago de Cuba This small corner park was designed by American architect Walter Betancourt. Betancourt was born in 1932 in New York, son of Cuban parents that had escaped to Florida during the Cuban War for Independence. As a child of Cubans, Betancourt vacationed often in Cuba. After graduating with a degree in Architecture in 1956 from the University of Virginia, Betancourt entered the US Navy where he served, coincidentally enough, at Guantanamo.  Significantly, Betancourt was in Cuba during the July 26th coup attempt on the Moncada Barracks by Fidel Castro. After leaving the military Betancourt moved Continue Reading

The Knot

 Posted by on March 10, 2016
Mar 102016
 
The Knot

Santiago de Cuba In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium, an homage to an artist and teacher who authored works as important as the Cuba’s Abel Santamaria Monument. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals. The second Symposium was held in November of 2013, this sculpture is a result of the second Symposium.  

Clouds in the Mountains

 Posted by on March 10, 2016
Mar 102016
 
Clouds in the Mountains

Santiago de Cuba In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium, an homage to an artist and teacher who authored works as important as the Cuba’s Abel Santamaria Monument. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals. The second Symposium was held in November of 2013. This sculpture is a result of the first symposium. The same year Negrin also had the entry Lluvia en la Cordillera  (Rain in Mountains) Continue Reading

Rain in the Mountains

 Posted by on March 10, 2016
Mar 102016
 
Rain in the Mountains

Santiago de Cuba In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium, an homage to an artist and teacher who authored works as important as the Cuba’s Abel Santamaria Monument. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals. The second Symposium was held in November of 2013.  This sculpture is a result of the first symposium. Rene Negrin was born September 28, 1949.  He is a consulting Professor of Artes Plasticas Continue Reading

S. T. by Mario Trenard

 Posted by on March 10, 2016
Mar 102016
 
S. T. by Mario Trenard

In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium, an homage to an artist and teacher who authored works as important as the Cuba’s Abel Santamaria Monument. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals. The second Symposium was held in November of 2013. This sculpture is a product of the second Symposium Mario Trenard graduated as a sculptor from the Higher Art Institute (ISA, in Spanish). He is a member Continue Reading

Mar 102016
 
Jose Maria Heredia - One of Cuba's Great Poets

Traffic Circle at Avenue Manduley and Calle 11 Santiago de Cuba According to Cuba Facts Jose Marie Heredia y Heredia  was born in Santiago de Cuba on December 31 1803, and lived a short thirty-five years, spending most of his adult life in exile. In 1818 he enrolled in the University of Havana as a law student, and it was about this time that he met Isabel Rueda, to whom he wrote and dedicated erotic poetry. His first dramatic effort (the play Eduardo IV o el usurpador clemente) was produced by a theatre group in Matanzas. On October 31 1820, his Continue Reading

Jose Marti by Alberto Lescay

 Posted by on March 10, 2016
Mar 102016
 
Jose Marti by Alberto Lescay

Santiago de Cuba José Julián Martí Pérez (January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) is a Cuban national hero.  Martí is considered one of the great turn-of-the-century Latin American intellectuals. His written works consist of a series of poems, essays, letters, lectures, a novel, and even a children’s magazine. He wrote for numerous Latin American and American newspapers; he also founded a number of newspapers himself. His newspaper Patria was a key instrument in his campaign for Cuban independence. After his death, one of his poems from the book, “Versos Sencillos” (Simple Verses) was adapted to the song “Guantanamera”, which Continue Reading

Hatuey

 Posted by on November 30, 2015
Nov 302015
 
Hatuey

Baracoa, Cuba Hatuey is one of the most important people in Cuban history, originally from Hispaniola, he fled with many other natives to warn the people of Caobana of the treachery of the oncoming onslaught of the Spanish. Sadly the Caobanans did not believe him and few joined him in his fight against the Spanish. He was captured in February of 1512 and burned alive at the stake. The story that every Cuban child learns is that before Hatuey was burned, a priest asked him if he would accept Jesus and go to heaven. Spanish historian Bartolomé Las Casas wrote Continue Reading

Rosa La Bayamesa

 Posted by on November 23, 2015
Nov 232015
 
Rosa La Bayamesa

Holquín, Cuba This statue is of Rosa Maria Castellanos,(1834-1907) created by Santiago de Cuba sculptor Antonio Lescay. Rosa La Bayamesa was a 36 year old daughter of slaves, a nurse and organizer of field hospitals during the Ten Years’ War, which was the beginning of the attempt for Cuba to escape Spanish rule. Bayamesa refers to the Cuban town Bayamo, the insurgent stronghold during the 10 Years War. Alberto Lescay Merencio graduated with a degree in Painting in 1968 from the “José Joaquín Tejada” Fine Arts Workshop; In 1973 he added a degree in Sculpture from the “Cubanacán” National Art School. He became Continue Reading

El Pelu

 Posted by on November 11, 2015
Nov 112015
 
El Pelu

Baracoa, Cuba This is El Pelú sculpted by Ramon Dominque Gainza. El Pelú was a native of Coruña, Spain named Francisco Rodríguez. There is very little known about him other than at some point in his life he ended up in Baracoa, Cuba.  He apparently wandered the streets preaching until sometime around 1896 when his sermons became offensive and the town council expelled him. Legend has it that while standing on the wharf, waiting for the boat that would send him into exile, he said “In Baracoa many good plans will be made, many good ideas will be generated, but all of Continue Reading

Monumento al Cimmarón

 Posted by on July 31, 2015
Jul 312015
 
Monumento al Cimmarón

The Monumento al Cimarrón, by Alberto Lescay, or Monument to the Runaway Slave is in the Cuban town of El Cobre.  El Cobre is home to the cathedral that houses Cuba’s patron Saint the Virgin on Caridad. Lescay has said “I feel the spirit of that work in others and I think I’ve found a road, because it is a very open proposal, not at all schematic or dogmatic and those are very universal codes that are expressed in it.” Lescay goes on to say that being a cimmarón is an attitude toward life, and will continue to exist as Continue Reading

Iris Jazz Club

 Posted by on April 22, 2015
Apr 222015
 
Iris Jazz Club

Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps Silence of paintings. You language where all language ends. You time standing vertically On the motion of mortal hearts. by poet Rainer Maria Rilke  IRIS Jazz Club is a cultural complex located in front of  in the city of Santiago de Cuba. The space, originally a cafeteria, was turned into a jazz club with the specific purpose of promoting jazz in the area. Santiago de Cuba is celebrating their 500th year in 2015. These bronze panels were the work of Santiago born artist Alberto Lescay’s Caguayo foundation to mark this celebration. The program costs 125,400 Continue Reading

Germinal*

 Posted by on April 22, 2015
Apr 222015
 
Germinal*

Eulises Niebla born in 1963 in Matanzas Cuba, studied at the  Escuela Provincial de arte in Matanzas, Cuba from 1975-1979, He then went on to the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) Havana from 1980-1984 and then to the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). in Havana from 1984-1989 A contemporary Cuban artist Niebla works with industrial materials to create geometric three-dimensional objects, which are then painted in bright colours. These objects have been likened to the forms in children’s playgrounds and belong to an established constructivist tradition in Latin America that pushes the boundaries of the art object and encourages the spectator to participate in Continue Reading

Outer Harmony

 Posted by on April 22, 2015
Apr 222015
 
Outer Harmony

  In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals. Armonía Exterior was a result of the 2013 Symposium, the pieces that came out of the project were put around Santiago de Cuba. Ramon Casas graduated from the National School of Arts (ENA) in Havana in 1976, he then went on to study at the Higher Arts Institute (ISA) in Havana, Cuba and graduated in Continue Reading

Arco

 Posted by on April 22, 2015
Apr 222015
 
Arco

In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals. Arco was a result of the 2013 Symposium, the pieces that came out of the project are put around Santiago de Cuba. Jose Villa has two pieces in Havana that have been in this website before and that you can read about here. Santiago de Cuba native José Ramón Villa Soberón ( September 2, 1950) is Continue Reading

Nature

 Posted by on April 22, 2015
Apr 222015
 
Nature

This piece, titled Nature, is by Juan Quintanilla. In December of 2010, the city of Santiago de Cuba held its first Rene Valdes Cedeño Public Sculpture Symposium. Sponsored by the Caguayo Foundation and the Advisory Council for the Development of Public Sculptures and Monuments, the symposium seeks to promote sculpting in marble and metals.  Nature was a result of the Symposium, the pieces that came out of the project were put around Santiago de Cuba. Juan Quintanilla studied at the School of Visual Arts in Pinar del Rio in 1965.  He went on to get a graduate degree in Sculpture from Continue Reading

Antonio Maceo

 Posted by on April 21, 2015
Apr 212015
 
Antonio Maceo

This piece, titled Antonio Maceo sits in Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.  Created by Alberto Lescay, a Santiago born artist, it was installed in 1991.  This monument is dedicated to the 19th century war hero, General Antonio Maceo. Saw-toothed “machetes” rise from the grass and surround a large sculpture of the General on horseback.   Alberto Lescay Merencio graduated with a degree in Painting  in 1968 from the  “José Joaquín Tejada” Fine Arts Workshop; In 1973 he added a degree in Sculpture from the “Cubanacán” National Art School.  He became an Art Professor in 1979 at “Repin” Academy of Sculpture, Continue Reading

Camilo Cienfuegos

 Posted by on January 29, 2015
Jan 292015
 
Camilo Cienfuegos

Revolution Plaza Havana, Cuba On the Ministry of Ministry of Communications building is another line sculpture by Enrique Avila Gonzales.  This one is of a lesser known revolutionary hero, Camilo Cienfuegos, shown here with his signature cowboy hat. The sculpture was erected in 2009. The words “Vas bien, Fidel” (You’re doing fine, Fidel) on the bottom right, refers to a reply given to Fidel at a January 8, 1959 victory rally. How am I doing? asked Castro You’re doing fine said Cienfuegos. Camilo Cienfuegos disappeared while he was traveling in a small plane from Camagüey province that same year.

Che Guevara, Korda and Gonzales

 Posted by on January 28, 2015
Jan 282015
 
Che Guevara, Korda and Gonzales

Plaza de Revolucion Havana, Cuba Plaza de la Revolución  “Revolution Square” is one of the 13 largest outdoor plazas in the world. The square is notable as being where many political rallies take place and Fidel Castro and other political figures address Cubans. Fidel Castro has addressed more than a million Cubans on many occasions, such as 1 May and 26 July each year. This sculpture of Che Guevara is a single line replica of the famous Alberto Korda photograph of Che.  The sculptor on this was Cuban artist Enrique Avila Gonzales.  The words “Hasta la Victoria Sempre” (Onward forever to victory) Continue Reading

El Caballero de Paris

 Posted by on January 22, 2015
Jan 222015
 
El Caballero de Paris

  This is one of my favorite public sculptures in Havana, and as you can see how the patina has been worn off, I am not the only one that has a fondness for this character. El Caballero de París was  José Maria López Lledín (1920s-1977), was a well-known street person in Havana, Cuba in the 1950s. Lledín lost his mind and became “El Caballero de París” when he was arrested in late 1920 and sent to the prison at “El Castillo del Príncipe” in Havana, Cuba. The reasons are unknown but he always claimed in all interviews his innocence. He Continue Reading

John Lennon in Cuba

 Posted by on January 20, 2015
Jan 202015
 
John Lennon in Cuba

Lennon Park Havana, Cuba In the John Lennon Park at 17th and 6th, is a sculpture of the former Beatles member , sculpted by Cuban artist José Villa Soberón.  On a marble tile at the foot of the bench there is an inscription: “Dirás que soy un soñador pero no soy el único” John Lennon, it is the Spanish translation of the English lyrics, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” from the song “Imagine”. The sculpture of Lennon (like many statues with glasses around the world)  doesn’t always wear he’s signature round-lens glasses, which have been Continue Reading

Benny Moré

 Posted by on January 20, 2015
Jan 202015
 
Benny Moré

Prado Promenade Cienfuegos, Cuba Benny Moré (Bartolomé Maximiliano Moré Gutiérrez, 24 August 1919 – 19 February 1963), or Benny, was a Cuban singer. He is often thought of as the greatest Cuban popular singer of all time. He was musical, and had a fluid tenor voice which he colored and phrased with great expressivity. Moré was a master of most genres of Cuban music, such as the son montuno, mambo, guaracha, and bolero. In particular, it is unusual for a singer to be equally proficient at both the fast rhythms (e.g. guaracha) and the slower rhythms, such as the bolero. Continue Reading

Yasser Arafat in Cuba

 Posted by on January 20, 2015
Jan 202015
 
Yasser Arafat in Cuba

7th Avenida Havana, Cuba   Havana, Cuba, Nov. 24 2012 In the words of its sculptor, Andres Gonzalez Gonzalez, the bust reveals “a kindhearted leader who fought hard for the freedom of his people.” The monument measures 1.95 meters. The installation ceremony was presided over by Jose Ramon Balaguer, member of Cuba’s Communist Party Central Committee and head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the political organization. Also attending was the president of the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) Kenia Serrano.