Wifredo Lam

  • Born 1902 in Sagua La Grande, Cuba
  • Died 1982 in Paris, France
Through his work, Wifredo Lam sought to revive the Afro-Cuban culture. Lam’s father was Chinese and his mother was a Cuban of African descent. After briefly studying law, he began to study painting at the Escuela de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts) in 1918, and in 1923 he traveled to Madrid, Spain, to study under Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor y Zaragoza (1875–1960), who also taught Salvador Dalí (1904–1989). In 1936 he revolutionized his practice after seeing an exhibition of work by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). He moved to Paris in 1938, where Picasso encouraged Lam to seek his own modernism, and the two exhibited their work at the Perls Galleries, New York, in 1939. Lam’s graphic works illustrated many poems, including André Breton’s “Fata Morgana” (1940). In 1941, after being imprisoned in France by the Nazis, Lam returned to Cuba, where his work was reinvigorated by his African heritage. After World War II, Lam traveled abroad, associating with the Italian avant-garde and the CoBrA group. In 1964, Lam received the Guggenheim International Award. His work has been widely exhibited, including at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 2015.

Artworks by Wifredo Lam in the exhibition