A bearded man in fatigues, as if he had just come down from the Sierra Maestra, serenades a young woman, while a poster of revolutionary Cuba reads: “Youth, joy and cold Coca-Cola.”
The bizarre drawing was published in Cuba by caricaturist, illustrator and publicist Conrado W. Massaguer (1889-1965), just after the triumph of the Revolution, when promoting and business coexisted with political propaganda and nationalizations.
As within the river mouths after they reach the ocean, where the water is neither fresh nor salty, or each at the identical time, Massaguer managed to publish a complete volume dedicated to the new times of post-1959 Cuba, before its primary private publications were closed.
“Promoting is to assist Cuba,” reads considered one of the drawings, with a bearded character reading a newspaper that advertises brands reminiscent of Cigarros Hatuey or the U.S. Jell-O.
These and other works by the prolific Cuban illustrator make up the exhibition Cultura y caricatura cubanas: El arte de Massaguer on the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, Florida.
The thought of starting one of the vital complete exhibitions of Massaguer’s work (and the primary of its kind in Miami) arose from the work of U.S. collector Vicki Gold Levi, editor and curator of photographs and historian.
Before collecting Massaguer’s originals, magazines, objects, letters, Gold Levi discovered him through Social magazine, during an investigation for the book Cuba Style, co-written with Steve Heller.
Social was a “lifestyle” magazine founded by Massaguer that for greater than three a long time highlighted not only his work but additionally that of the perfect illustrators and draftsmen of the time in Cuba.
His famous “Massa-girls,” an inventive representation, idealized and it might be said vindicative of the ladies of the time, with short, modern hair, drawn in an art deco style, appeared in its pages and covers on quite a few occasions, said Frank Luca, curator of the exhibition and head of the librarians of the Wolfsonian Museum.
“Even within the caricatures of American tourists to advertise the Island, the illustrator selected to ridicule only the male escort, in a burlesque tone that he didn’t use with women,” said Luca.
Other magazines where he published were El Fígaro and Carteles, also donated by Gold Levi to the institution for the gathering.
During her trips to Cuba within the early 2000s, Gold Levi monopolized all the pieces she found of Massaguer, and he or she continued to review in depth his work and his life. Next November she’s going to make her seventh trip to the island, although to purchase something new it can need to be “very special or unique,” said the collector.
“I used to be dazzled by his ingenious graphics, by his lines, so pure and easy yet expressing a lot,” she said.
Nonetheless, the exhibition has two favorite objects that don’t reflect a mature stage of the artist, but his most intimate side. The primary is a letter addressed to his father and his uncle, with the primary known strokes of the artist where he showed tall buildings and the Manhattan tram, when he was studying within the cold Upstate New York.
The second is a rocking chair he made for the firstborn of friend who lived in Miami, decorated along with his strokes and preserved almost intact to this present day.
The worth of the work of Massaguer, internationally recognized for his work in U.S. magazines reminiscent of Vanity Fair, Life, Cosmopolitan and Collier’s, reached the purpose of unleashing a wave of faux pieces which are sold as authentic.
In the beginning of her collection, Gold Levi acquired considered one of those false drawings, also on display within the exhibition, on this case about Albert Einstein, included within the “Ellos” section of the Social magazine.
His caricatures usually are not lacking within the exhibition. Although they weren’t faithful portraits (nor were they attempting to be), explains Luca, his economy of strokes, humor and imagination, captured the essence of the character, easily recognizable in every instance.
Thus the primary world leaders during World War II are shown playing dominoes, or going to a gas station at Christmas.
As well as, his pencil drew quite a few figures from Cuba and the U.S., from the Cuban Capablanca to the American Walt Disney, at a time when Havana was a gathering point for artists and famous people from everywhere in the world, especially from the US.
The director of the Wolfsonian Museum, Tim Rodgers, said on the opening of the show that “this new material marks an exciting volume that proves how our cultural exchange was really a two-lane road, paved partly by Cuban artists and trendsetting creators.”
“Sharing Massaguer’s history right here in Miami, a gateway to Latin America, may be very appropriate,” Rodgers said in an announcement to the press.
The exhibition, open until February 2020, is a visit to the Cuba of the past and relations between the 2 countries through the traces of top-of-the-line Cuban caricaturists and illustrators of all time, who in considered one of his self-portraits used a demon and an angel as companions. Good and evil in his caricatures, picaresque and ingenuity.