Cuban art after thawing

Apparently, there is still good news for Cuban art. Last Friday, the United States State Department lifted most of the restrictions on the import of goods and services from Cuba and works of art are also included in the new list.

After the announcements last December 17 it was predicted that more collectors, art connoisseurs and representatives of various institutions would prepare to travel to Cuba in the new scenario, although the devotion and curiosity of many for Cuban art and brought to the island long before Barack Obama and Raul Castro made public their dialogue.

Cuban art, its value abroad and their potential for expansion in the international market seem to have a promising future with the new landscape. Many experts have alerted that Cuba should even prepare for an “invasion of collectors”.

Given a path of some edges are already revealed, but of which ultimately we do not know its outcome, some uncertain issues arise in the new context: Could 2015 mark the emergence of Cuban art as announced mecca of art, as many have predicted? What artists will benefit in the long run with relaxations? What will happen to our art, once it loses its appeal of “forbidden fruit” and can be bought and sold without restrictions that have persisted for decades?

OnCuba contacted via Internet who lives in Mexico since 1991 and whose career has been outside Cuba, but offers an interesting insight into the new scenario that is predicted for art on the island.

Gonzalez, who has exhibited in the best Mexican galleries, including Alejandro Gallo, the Nina Menocal, the Oscar Roman and Mexican Contemporary Art, believes that “the resumption of relations between Cuba and the United States since then opens a door to Cuban art; The same happened when the Perestroika in the Soviet Union, was a subject that was fashionable.

“In the case of Cuban art is curious and interesting the morbid fascination that it has created in the press and international opinion by the isolation of many years. This is something that makes it much more attractive; we must seize this moment. “

And certainly the prices have been rising, which has been driven by collectors as Howard Farber and philanthropist from Miami, Ella Cisneros, plus large museums like the Tate, London. Today, prices for works by living stars of Cuban art as Yoan Capote, Carlos Garaicoia and conceptual art duo Los Carpinteros range between 5000 and $ 400,000.

The work Idol (Oya / Divinit, de l’Air et de la mort), by late Wifredo Lam, was sold at Sotheby’s for $ 4.6 million dollars two years ago, which meant a record price for the artist.

Auction Havana is an event that not many Cubans know, but it has its edition every year in Cuba and in which buyers have the option of attending the live auction, purchase through a representative or follow the bid over the phone or via Internet. This event offers buyers the most representative of all time Cuban art, including artists from the early twentieth century to contemporary.

In the last edition, the Flora recogedora de sueños piece (bronze sculpture by artist Cundo Bermúdez) was the most valued, estimated at some 150,000 or 160,000 Euros.

One of the most successful in the current market Cuban artists, Kadir Lopez, recently told the Argentine daily the story of about a year ago the actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett knocked on the door of his home in Havana and took, for $ 45,000, the Coca Cola Galiano, a poster of the most famous drink Kadir superimposed on a photo of the Galiano street from the 50s.

Stevie Wilson, collector of Kentucky, told this newspaper that has recently bought several pieces in Cuban Art Factory, for values between 1500 and 15 000 dollars. Wilson said he would like to create residences in the United States for Cuban artists and vice versa.

From Friday January 16 a number of points entered into force to begin to restore bilateral relations. Tourism continues prohibited, but Americans allowed traveling to Cuba no longer need special permits from the Treasury Department, as may do with a general license, whiling US financial institutions may open accounts in Cuban banks.

This happens after that, for years, American collectors circumvent the embargo taking to the US art works legally, since Washington classify them as “cultural assets”, unlike the rum or cigars.

In a still unpublished interview ArtOnCuba, Cuban artist Roberto Diago announced at his Home-Study in Santos Suárez his views on the impact of changes in Cuban artists and recognition and possibility of trade may have his work now.

Diago says he doubts the matter because “Whether it was a group of us (Cuban artists) who always exhibited at fairs in the United States. The presence was small but was present. Havana Gallery participated with a group of artists at fairs and exhibitions. A major exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, where   a group of Cuban artists and contemporary Caribbean participated “.

Some artists like Diago are already working with galleries in Miami or New York and work of some of the more “established” Cubans was been seen in the United States.

“Now what’s happening is a greater influx” adds Diago, who claims not to stop receiving calls from people interested in buying his work.

His representative is the American collector Alberto Magnan. Magnan, who owns Magnan Metz Gallery in Manhattan, specializing in Cuban art, said weeks ago might have received 25 calls on December 17 itself, after talks between Obama and Castro were made public. Magnan also spoke with ArtOnCuba, and that, “in addition to collectors always, there are many who are coming for the first time to buy Cuban art”.

For the American collector, these buyers “are looking good pieces of people already on the market. They are also looking for new people. The other thing is that people also come here also is selling very well in the United States. “

Magnan does not seem concerned that the interest in Cuban art disappears after the option to buy is more flexible. “This can happen if it is not known artists. I do not think it will happen with serious artists who are respected by museums, curators, etc. “

His attention is diverted more towards the quality of the work, which could be affected in a context in which there are many buyers proposing good prices for pieces. “What I do not want to happen is that artists do work just for the money, because here many people will come and they will sell,” he says.

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