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.
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.
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.