In the Loop

Los Carpinteros and the Meaning of Beauty: An Argument about Activism and Visuality in Cuban Art

  • Date & Time
    • Thursday, November 02, 2023 6:00pm to 7:00pm
  • Cost
    • Free
  • Description

    Join us for a HESCAH lecture by Rachel Weiss, Professor Emerita, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The artistic collaborative group Los Carpinteros produced some of the most commented and lauded works to come out of Havana in the 1990s. Placing virtuosic craftsmanship at the center of their work, they embodied a broader rejection of a movement, mostly characterized by an anti-aesthetic defiance, that preceded them on the island. In doing so, Cuban art of the 1990s engineered its own resurgence—in this incarnation, as internationally marketable art. In some tellings, it was this move of restoring the centrality of lowly craft—lowly as seen from the perspective of a contestatory conceptualism with no time for prettiness—that Cuban visual art became a moribund, useless project. On the other hand, this ‘return to the visual paradigm’ is offered in many accounts as key evidence of a new (political) maturity in the nation’s visual art. In these terms, it represented not a failure of nerve but a tactical retreat. In fact, such paradigmatically ‘visual’ work is declared to be the legitimate heir to the activism and audacity of the previous decade in Havana—albeit in a chastened, ‘strategic’ form. In the Cuban context, then, the form-content debate has a particular score to settle. How to understand this tangle? A look at some work by Los Carpinteros might help.

  • Venue
    Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
    Room #
    Chandler Auditorium
    3259 Hull Road
    Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art Website