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Architecture

Cuba at the Getty! Cuba at Track 16! Cuba at Kopeikin! What's With All These Cuba Exhibits?

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Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST, VIRGINIA BEAHAN, AMERICAN, BORN 1946. POST-REVOLUTIONARY "HOMBRE NUEVO" (NEW MAN), LAS TUNAS, 2004 CHROMOGENIC PRINT SHEET: 86.4 X 104.1 CM (34 X 41 IN.) WILSON CENTRE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Virginia Beahan, American, born 1946. Post-Revolutionary "Hombre Nuevo" (New Man), Las Tunas, 2004 Chromogenic print Sheet: 86.4 x 104.1 cm (34 x 41 in.) Wilson Centre for Photography

The Getty Center, Track 16, and Kopeikin Gallery are all presenting concurrent exhibitions taking on the same subject -- Cuba. Cuba in all its pre-Revolutionary vibrancy and subsequent Soviet-era austerities, it's iconic political struggles, its alluringly exotic aesthetic, and the poignant photogenic splendor of its half-ruined architecture and impoverished population. Cuba, eternal muse to photographers, musicians, poets, and the fashion-conscious. Cuba, battleground of progressive ideals and violent repressions; site of extremes of poverty, decay, defiance, beauty, bravery, faith and flair.

These three venues present hundreds of photographs taken by more than a dozen artists -- plus paintings, sculpture, architecture, and a film-making -- spanning eight decades.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST, ALBERTO KORDA, CUBAN, 1928-2001. PLAZA DE LA REVOLUCIÓN, HAVANA, MAY 1963 GELATIN SILVER PRINT IMAGE: 27.5 X 35.4 CM (10 13/16 X 13 15/16 IN.) SKREIN PHOTO COLLECTION © ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (
  • Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Alberto Korda, Cuban, 1928-2001. Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, May 1963 Gelatin silver print Image: 27.5 x 35.4 cm (10 13/16 x 13 15/16 in.) Skrein Photo Collection © Artists Rights Society (

The Getty Center's "A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now" is up through October 2, and presents an elegant cornerstone to this timely cross-platform synchronicity. The show's sexiest draw is an exceptionally rare original surviving print of Korda's portrait of Che Guevarra, Guerillero Heroico, which many claim is the single most reproduced photograph in history. The rest of the exhibition focuses on three specific periods in the photographic record -- Walker's 1933 trip, the years surrounding the 1959 Revolution, and a special look at the years following the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Exuberant urban style abounds in the richly hued ruination of legendarily spicy and bold island panache, from the landscape to the music to the automobile, and of course, the female form.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST, WALKER EVANS, AMERICAN, 1903-1975. BALCONY SPECTATORS, 1933 GELATIN SILVER PRINT IMAGE: 19.8 X 25.2 CM (7 13/16 X 9 15/16 IN.) THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES © WALKER EVANS ARCHIVE, THE METROPO
  • Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Walker Evans, American, 1903-1975. Balcony Spectators, 1933 Gelatin silver print Image: 19.8 x 25.2 cm (7 13/16 x 9 15/16 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropo

The Getty's remarkably eclectic exhibition is book-ended by Walker Evans' powerful early 20th-century images and the much more recent but no less impactful works by Alexey Titarenko, who uses the same old-school silver gelatin analog printing as Evans and achieves a curiously "retro" appearance despite his 21st-century content. Judging by infrastructure and automobile model years, the scenes have remained largely unchanged in the past several decades.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST, ALEXEY TITARENKO, RUSSIAN, BORN 1962. UNTITLED [HAVANA], 2006 GELATIN SILVER PRINT IMAGE: 40.6 X 40.6 CM (16 X 16 IN.) THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES, GIFT OF ALEXEY TITARENKO AND NAILYA ALEXANDER &
  • Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Alexey Titarenko, Russian, born 1962. Untitled [Havana], 2006 Gelatin silver print Image: 40.6 x 40.6 cm (16 x 16 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Alexey Titarenko and Nailya Alexander &

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