What Does It Take For Cuban Art To Reach U.S. Soil?

Cuban art can be loaned to the U.S., it just has to go through Europe.

Lázaro Saavedra, El Sagrado Corazón. © Lázaro Saavedra

Money, ingenuity and the black market, it would seem.

Cultural loans from Cuba remain difficult, so institutions that rely on this type of exchange are now sending artworks through Europe in an attempt to avoid legal and political entanglements, The Art Newspaper reported.

Shows like Adios Utopia at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston are the rare and cherished chance to see contemporary Cuban art, for ex-pats and curious Americans alike.

In order to ship the works in the show properly, TAN said, the collectors loaning them sourced black market wood for crates, because of shortages in Cuba, and in many cases routed them via Europe.

The MFAH exhibit showcased vital political works, such as Irreversible Conga, a piece by the artist collective known as Los Carpinteros, which may suggest subtly that Cuba is moving backwards.

The show became wildly expensive, and other institutions opted out.

“We are the pioneers in this, but we are having to pay the pioneer’s price,” the curator of the MFAH exhibition told the paper. “[We’re] testing the ground to see how far a project like this can go.”

Kudos to the MFAH, then, for the follow-through, financial and emotional, to bring these pieces to U.S. viewers.

What Does It Take For Cuban Art To Reach U.S. Soil?