Wifredo Lam

Wifredo Lam (1902 – 1982) Cuban

Wifredo Oscar de la Concepción Lam y Castilla was born December 8, 1902, in Sagua la Grande, Cuba. In 1916, died in 1982. His family moved to Havana, where he attended the Escuela de Bellas Artes. During the early 1920s, he exhibited at the Salón de la Asociación de Pintores y Escultores in Havana. In 1923, Lam moved to Madrid, where he studied at the studio of Fernando Alvarez de Sotomayor, the Director of the Museo del Prado (and a teacher of Salvador Dalí). In 1929, Lam married Eva Piriz, who died of tuberculosis two years later, as did their young son. This tragic event may have contributed to the dark and brooding appearance of much of Lam’s later work. In the early 1930s, the effects of Surrealism were evident in Lam’s work, as was the influence of Henri Matisse and possibly Joaquín Torres-García. In 1936, a traveling exhibition of the work of Pablo Picasso shown in Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid proved inspirational to Wifredo Lam both artistically and politically. He moved to Paris in 1938, where Picasso took him under his wing and encouraged his interest in African art and primitive masks. During that year, he also traveled to Mexico, where he stayed with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Wifredo Lam own multicultural heritage (as the son of a Chinese father and a mother of mixed African, Indian, and European descent) and his involvement with Santería, a religion rooted in African culture, would soon become integral to his work. By the late 1930s, Lam was associated with the Surrealists. He had his first solo show at the Galerie Pierre Loeb in Paris in 1939, and his work was exhibited with Picasso’s at the
Perls Galleries, New York, New York and the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington. D.C.

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