As in the rest of Latin America, the Cuban vanguardia generation was more effective in carrying out its modernist and nationalist ideological program in the cultural-artistic arena than in the arena of politics. As cultural critic Nestor Garcia Canclini has explained, "We [in Latin America] have had an exuberant modernism and a deficient modernization."1 While artistic vanguards proliferated throughout Latin America in the 1920s and 1930s, literacy, democracy, and industry grew ever so slowly.
Cuban Art and National IdentityUniversity Press of Florida
The Vanguardia Generation and the Re-creation of a National Identity
Beginning in the 1920s Cuban artists of all disciplines immersed themselves in the drive to re-create a cultural ethos out of diverse elements that included national-popular themes and imported modern forms and ideas. Writers, musicians, and painters were highly successful in creating works that reflected the traditions of the Cuban experience while also renewing them. They inherited and then reinvented a repertoire of Cuban images, narratives, and sounds to express a multifaceted, collective self-identity.
The quest to express cubanidad in the visual arts was concerned mostly with the thematic and the iconic. As critic Guy Perez Cisneros has recognized in his brief but perceptive discourse on the issue of nationalism in art: "We possess a vigorous art, truly Cuban because of its themes."2 The most prevalent of the themes borrowed by the vanguardia painters from popular culture, history and tradition, and the natural environment were the representation of the peasant, or guajiro, the countryside, and the Afrocuban tradition. The vanguardia artists' concentration on these themes provides the major point of contact between the ideology of the sociopolitical vanguard and its artistic expression.
The vanguardia painters' representation of a national identity also received a significant boost from contacts with modern European and, to a lesser extent, Mexican art. In postimpressionism, fauvism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and Mexican mural painting the vanguardia found the inspiration and the means to reinterpret Cuban reality. The mixture of native and imported elements in their art enabled the vanguardia artists to express a Cuban ethos without forsaking their claim to be part of the modern world.
Representation of the Cuban Peasant and the CountrysideCuban literature and art had been concerned with the interrelated subjects of the Cuban guajiro and the Cuban countryside since the mid-nineteenth century. This was due in part to the fact that Cuba was an underdeveloped country with a large rural population. But there were other reasons why the guajiro and the countryside became prominent symbols of the new cubanidad of the 1920s and 1930s. Both the sociopolitical and artistic vanguards associated peasants with exploitation, struggle, and survival. Peasants suffered more than any other group from the social injustice that the 1923-34 reform movement set out to rectify. As one of the clauses of the Grupo Minorista's 1927 declaration stated, its members were working for "the betterment of the Cuban farmer and worker."
The countryside was the source of much of traditional Cuban culture the legends, music, and cuisine that helped create a sense of national ethos. Moreover, Cuba's Wars of Independence were fought primarily in the countryside, and many peasants joined the ranks of the mambises, or independence fighters. More than any other sector of society, the peasants experienced the destruction of the war and its disappointing aftermath.
The guajiros lived in rural towns, on farms, and deep in the countryside and in the mountains. They were the descendants of Spanish settlers and African slaves. Their traditional dwelling was the bohio, a thatchedroof hut, and their traditional occupations were cultivating and harvesting sugarcane and tobacco and manufacturing sugar. They also planted vegetables and raised animals for consumption. Sombreros protected them from the tropical sun, machetes served as tools and weapons, and the most prosperous owned horses that functioned as beasts of burden and as the primary means of transportation other than walking. In the 1920s and 1930s the majority of guajiros were poor or even destitute.
Nineteenth-century lithographs of European traveler-reporter artists were the first depictions of the Cuban guajiro and the countryside. The rapid growth of the tobacco industry and international advertising of tobacco led in the 1840s to the growth of lithographic workshops that attracted many such artists and in general stimulated the development of graphic art in Cuba. In work done for the tobacco industry, mostly anonymous artists illustrated the bands, or marquillas, that were placed on Cuban cigar and cigarette packages to advertise their contents.3 Among the wide array of subjects depicted in the marquillas were the guajiros and the countryside (fig. 4).
The most vivid representations of the Cuban peasant and landscape in the marquillas were often produced by renowned traveler-reporter artists, who also made larger and finer prints for Europeans who were curious about the Americas. These lithographs provide the first visual documentations of daily life in Cuba, if often from a picturesque or exotic point of view. Among those who dealt with the countryside, the Spaniard Leonardo Baraiiano, about whom little is known, depicted minute, perfected, panoramic views of the Cuban landscape. The French painter and lithographer Eduard Laplante (1818-?) used a similar combination of realism and idealism to portray twenty-eight of Cuba's largest sugar mills in his series Los ingenios ( 1857).4 Laplante's finely crafted lithographs offer a selective vision that includes a recognizable view of each mill and keen depictions of the surrounding countryside but does not give a hint of the slave work that took place in and around the ingenios.
Another French painter and lithographer, Fredreric Miahle (1810-81), gave the most complete account of Cuban colonial life in two lithograph series entitled Isla de Cuba pintoresca (The Picturesque Island of Cuba, 1839-42) and Viaje pintoresco alrededor de la isla de Cuba (Picturesque Journey around the Island of Cuba, 1848).5 Miahle was among the first artists to construct a picturesque image of the guajiro, in his lithograph Zapateado (Tap-Dance, 1848, fig. 5 ). He not only portrayed the typical appearance of the male Cuban peasant with his sombrero, machete, scarf, and white shirt but also expressed his legendary inclination to music, dancing, courtship, and smoking cigars, or puros. His representation of the guajira on the other hand seems to have been mostly inspired by European Romantic sources. A similar encyclopedic, picturesque, and vigorous description of the guajiros and the countryside is seen in the prints and paintings of the Spaniard Victor Patricio Landaluze (1828-89).6
The traveler-reporter artists' pleasant visions of the Cuban peasant and landscape (whether picturesque or exotic) were the predecessors to the representations of the Cuban countryside by the vanguardia painters Victor Manuel, Eduardo Abela, Lorenzo Romero Arciaga, Antonio Gattorno (in some cases), and Amelia Pelaez (in a few instances). These artists portrayed rural folk as calm and simple people who led a dose-to-nature existence in an ahistorical environment. They ignored the privation of life in the countryside in favor of a transcendental view of the land and its people.
These idealized representations of the guajiro and the countryside were directly influenced by the trend in modern art known as primitivism. As defined by the cultural critic James Clifford, modernist primitivism is a problematic concept rooted in a period of European colonialism and consisting of a core of Western assumptions and myths about non-Western people and cultures in general.7 Among the major assumptions and myths about non-Western people are their closeness to nature, timeless and natural way of life, physical vitalism, and inclination toward magic and ritualism. Although painters such as Victor Manuel, Gattorno, and Abela had a more intimate relationship with their sources than Europeans, their interpretation of the guajiro, his environment, and his way of life as calm, sensual, natural, and timeless follows a strain of modernist primitivism particularly associated with the paintings of Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.
The vanguardia painter who most consistently re-created a gentle and peaceful view of the Cuban countryside and it people wa Victor Manuel. In paintings such as Paisaje con figuras (Landscape with Figures, n.d., fig. 6) he sketched a few rural folks of Spanish and African descent leisurely passing time in a tranquil and colorful landscape of bohios, palm trees, royal poincianas, and a placid river. ln a style adapted from postimpressionist sources, particularly the modernist primitivism of Gauguin, he simplified the appearance of the Cuban rural environment to evoke stability and timelessness. Likewise he stylized his figures to typify an ideal of simplicity, passivity, and sensuality. Although Victor Manuel's landscapes offer a degree of naturalism, they primarily evoke a mythic and nostalgic vision of Cuba as a serene and uncomplicated tropical land of relaxed and sensuous people.
A similar vision is found in the paintings of Domingo Ravenet and Lorenzo Romero Arciaga. These artists, who were also involved in teaching and organizing art projects and exhibitions, depicted the Cuban peasant and the countryside in a primitivist vein. ln El jaguey (The Jagiiey Tree, 1938, fig. 7), Ravenet paid homage to this gigantic Cuban tree by showing it crowning the figure of a guajira carrying her child in front of a sturdy bohio. Like in the case of Victor Manuel, Ravenet used a highly simplified naturalism adapted from postimpressionist sources to express the "essence" of the Cuban countryside-a luscious vegetation and a rustic existence. Another relatively late but fine example of the primitivist approach to the representation of the Cuban peasant is Romero Arciaga's Taza de cafe (Cup of Coffee, ca. 1940, fig. 8), which depicts a model guajiro family in a scenic bohio. The figure of the music-playing husband is surrounded by objects and characters suggesting protection, love, beauty, and obligation: a print of Cuba's patron saint, caressing children, a still life of flowers, and the wife bringing coffee. The life of the Cuban peasant's family is presented as patriarchal, joyful, affectionate, and spiritual.
A more abstract and symbolic but equally arcadian representation of the peasant and the land is seen in the mid-1930 drawings of Amelia Pelaez.
At a time when she was dedicating most of her artistic efforts to creating figurative drawings in pencil, Pelaez took on the subject of the guajiro at rest and play. In La siesta (r936, fig. 9), she used characteristically firm and fluid lines and her understanding of cubism to evoke the figure of a guajira leisurely taking a siesta under a Cuban ceiba tree. This drawing not only depicts an event in the daily life of a Cuban peasant but also connotes relaxation, sensuality, and timelessness.
Pelaez's better-known still-life paintings of fruits and flowers offer a unique variation on the nation-as-the-guajiro-and-land theme. In works such as Naturaleza muerta en rojo (Still Life in Red, 1938, fig. 10), she used radiant colors and cubist abstraction to suggest a centered vase with fruits surrounded by elements of Cuban architectural decoration. The use of tropical fruits to symbolize Cuba as a land of abundance and sensual beauty is a restatement in painting of a nineteenth-century Cuban poetry conceit. Like the verses of Jose Fornaris, Francisco Pobeda, or El Cucalambe, Pelaez's still lifes allude to the land, if not to the guajiro, in their exaltation of its generous yield.
One of the most often-reproduced images of the Cuban peasant is Abela's Guajiros (1938, fig. n). In this painting Abela adapted the simplified realism of Diego Rivera's mature work to depict a group of peasants in their Sunday attire enjoying a sunny and leisurely day. Something of the male guajiro's way of life and character is implied in the details. The roosters in the painting allude to one of the guajiro 'main pastimes-cockfighting, while the peasant with a flower looking at the only female in the group suggests the legendary attraction of the guajiro to the opposite sex. Abela often painted the guajira as an unattainable object of male desire. In this and other Abela paintings the guajira is painted in the company of her male counterpart(s) but still somehow remains apart. ln this case her prominent Indian features suggest an often forgotten aspect of cubanidad-the PreColumbian heritage. Overall, the figures' monumental bodies, static poses, and serious facial expressions give them an air of dignity that had previously been reserved for religious figures and portraits of the upper class.
Contrasting with the above artworks, the literature and paintings of other members of the vanguardia projected a critical view of life in the countryside. Within the artistic production of the vanguard generation, prose led the way in the socially conscious exploration of the guajiro and the land theme. In his novels La conjura de la cienega (The Conspiracy of the Swamp, 1924), La pascua de la tierra (Earth's Christmas, 1928), and Marcos Antilla (1932), Luis Felipe Rodriguez pioneered a realistic description of the guajiros, analyzing their character and history and thei desperate economic and social situation.
In the first novel Rodriguez compared Cuban rural life, dominated by the all-mighty sugar industry, to a cienega, or swamp. In the introduction to the novel he offered the following definition of the novel's metaphoric title: "Swamp, puddle of mud and stagnant water that, like a sore in the native's body, has hatched an unfortunate conspiracy of evils unleashed in the Cuban sugar cane field."8
To Rodriguez the cienega symbolized the unstable and corrupt social, political, and economic situation of Cuba during the first twenty years of independence. Instability and corruption were most evident in the countryside, particularly around the mostly foreign-owned sugar mills. "The sugar mills reduced the land given to bananas, yuca, and sweet potatoes, and almost devoured the soil on which coffee and tobacco are planted .... Sugar cane became a lance that penetrated deep into the entrails of our island, to give us life and death. Now it is also hurting like a bloody thorn in the bosom of urban greed."9 Rodriguez's description of life in the countryside and his mention of urban Cuba offer a condemning view of Cuban politics, U.S influence in the country, and even creole psychology. One of the guajiro characters in the novel, Liborio Bartolo Morejon, is described as
the living symbol of the Cuban people ... mischievous, indifferent, skeptical, but at the same time naive and faithful, because for the sake of believing he has believed in the three J uanes [popular religious characters], in that the North Americans were going to protect him gratuitously, and in the miracles of that good Virgin, patroness of Hispano-America, that is named Creole Politics.10
To Rodriguez Liborio represents a psychological model not only of the Cuban peasant but of Cubans in general. Rodriguez's critical exploration of the guajiro and the dire social conditions in the countryside opened the way for Dora Alonso, Carlos Fernandez Cabrera, Raul Gonzalez de Cascorro, and Carlos Enriquez to develop this tendency in Cuban literature.
Vanguardia painter also projected a critical view of life in the countryside. Aristides Fernandez, Carlos Enriquez, Gattorno (to some extent), and Marcelo Pogolotti (when he touched on the subject) painted socially conscious rural scenes of the family, of work, and of national heroes.
Several peasant family portraits best exemplify the vanguardia generation's socially conscious view of life in the countryside. They are Fernandez's La familia se retrata (Family Portrait, ca. 1933), Gattorno's Quieres mas cafe, Don Nicolas? (Do You Want More Coffee, Don Nicolas? 1936), and Enriquez's Campesinos felices (Happy Peasants, 1938). These paintings follow the tradition of presenting the family as a metaphor for the nation. In contrast to the aristocratic or bourgeois families painted by academic artists, the paintings portray anonymous, ordinary, and in some cases poor people. They are also evidence of the democratization of the group portrait that occurred after the invention of photography. In fact, the families in these paintings seem to be posing for the camera.
The artists, however, did not interpret their subjects in a detached and detailed manner. In La familia se retrata (fig. 12), Fernandez used an actual family photo as the source for his expressionistic image of an all-female peasant family. The painting explores issues of gender, psychology, level of cultural attainment, and social status. The guajiras' blurred faces and stiff bodies and the bleak landscape surrounding them suggest crudeness and isolation. The painting departs from traditional group portraits by stressing the figures' lack of sophistication and their impoverished environment. In a keen analysis of this work sociologist Jorge Ibarra has concluded, "The final impression given by the painting is of the invalidity and inferiority of peasant women in relation to middle-class urban women. Pity, desolation, sadness, and helplessness are the emotional notes which this exceptional work by Aristides Fernandez strikes."12
In the 1930s Gattorno concentrated on the representation of the rural poor, but his view was kinder than that of Fernandez, fluctuating between subtle criticism of the peasants' social condition and homage toward their "natural" way of life. When he took the latter approach he was patterning himself after the tradition of modernist primitivism initiated by Gauguin in his South Pacific work.
In ¿Quieres mas cafe, Don Nicolas? (plate 5), Gattorno portrayed a Cuban peasant family in which the male members are shown as emaciated and dejected. In the words of the American novelist John Dos Passos, Gattorno's guajiros had "the look of poverty ... sadness, and isolation of a transplanted race."13 Yet the guajiros in this painting are presented enjoying a moment of leisure. They are shown in their bohio, which, although relatively bare, has a pleasant quality to it. The female figure who accompanies them stands out due to her enigmatic expression, her relatively fancy clothing, and the fact that she is shown smoking. Quieres mas cafe is one of the most progressive, if mythical, representations of a Cuban peasant woman dating from this period. The marked contrast between the thin, melancholic peasant male figures and their radiant environment and relaxed way of life suggests that guajiros are born into a bountiful land but that the social system alienates and impoverishes them.
The most critical image of the rural poor from this period is Enriquez's ironically titled Campesinos felices (fig. 13 ). In an expressionistic style reminiscent of that of George Grosz, Enrf quez portrayed a skeletal mother and her children, her emaciated husband, and their dilapidated bohio showing rather graphically the misery that afflicted the Cuban countryside during the depression of the 1930s. This pathetic image is an indictment on the time of the year between sugar harvests, known as the tiempo muerto, when many peasants were unemployed. The campaign poster on one of the posts includes the image of a fat pig in formal wear and the word vote. This detail comments bitterly on the corrupt state of creole politics in Cuba.
Collectively these prominent paintings of the 1930s present a bleak picture of the peasant family and by extension the Cuban nation. While women are given prominent roles in the family-nation, men are either absent, weak, or detached. Most troubling is the portrayal of children, representatives of the future. Fernandez's family is childless, Enriquez's children are undernourished and on the verge of death, and Gattorno's adolescent young man seems depressed.
This critical view of life in the countryside also produced strong images on the subject of work. Two outstanding examples are Fernandez’s Lavanderas (Washerwomen, 1933, plate 3), and Enriquez's Horno de carbon (Coal Oven, 1937, fig. 14). Fernandez's painting presents a group of laundresses framed by vegetation and dominated by the central figure of a strong, dark-skinned woman carrying a load of clothing. Through his handling of the figures' poses and gestures, the painter interprets this laborious task as a timeless and collective female ritual. One of the outstanding characteristics of Fernandez's paintings and drawings is the prominent and constructive role played by Cuban women as self-sustaining mothers and workers.
Enriquez's Horno de carbon, on the other hand, offers a hard, condemning look at one of the most difficult and hazardous types of rural employment. He visualized the hellish job of making coal from burned wood through a close-up representation of two malnourished peasants working in a desolated, smoldering landscape. With its large coal mound, total lack of vegetation, smoke rising from the ground, and narrow canal, the landscape is one of the most horrendous views ever painted of Cuba. It is the sole counterpart to the plethora of paradisiacal representations of nature found in Cuban poetry and painting since the nineteenth century. Enriquez's strong expressionistic interpretation of the harsh side of life in the countryside is unique in Cuban painting.
In representing the working class, the socially oriented tendency within the Cuban artistic vanguard at times connected the fate of the rural and the urban worker, as in Pogolotti's Paisaje cubano (Cuban Landscape, 1933, fig. 15). In a style adapted from the machine aesthetics of Fernand Leger, Pogolotti presents a concise visual narrative of the sugar industry, depicted in the context of Machado's repressive labor practices, unemployment, urban greed, and foreign domination. It is one of the few paintings of its time to deal directly with the issue of Cuba's colonial status vis-a-vis the United States. The social criticism it expresses echoes the declarations and manifestos of the various groups within the reform movement and complements the critique found in some Cuban literature.
Another vanguardia painter, Jorge Arche, dealt with the subject of the industrial worker in Trabajadores (Workers, 1936, fig. 16). This study for a large painting that was never finished depicts two downcast blue-collar workers carrying an injured colleague in front of a factory complex. Given the fact that many of the vanguardia painters sympathized with the political left and that there was major labor unrest in Cuba in the 1930s, it is surprising that the urban workers' plight did not receive widespread attention in vanguardia paintings.
The depiction of national heroes in the context of the countryside is an offshoot of the nation-as-the-guajiro-and-land theme. Two memorable examples are Arche's Jose Marti (1943, fig. 17) and Enriquez's Dos rios (Two Rivers, 1939). Arche was primarily a portrait painter who used a streamlined and precise representational style adapted from early Renaissance painting. With careful observation and refined idealism he depicted Marti half-length, upright, and immaculate, with one hand on his chest as if pledging his services to the motherland, which is represented in the background landscape. The iconlike quality of this painting has contributed to its popularity. Enriquez, on the other hand, created one of the most dramatic pictorial versions of Marti's death in Dos rios. The poet-soldier is shown on his horse, pistol still in hand, a moment after being struck by Spanish bullets. Mortally wounded, Marti is about to leave this world in the hands of two ghostly female presences. The artist's romanticized vision of death as two beautiful women is one that befits the author of the Versos sencillos. Enrfquez's style of transparent color forms and his imaginative composition did not aim for the usual journalistic depictions of one of the most tragic events in Cuban history; instead, he opted for mythologizing it. These and other representations of Marti by the vanguardia artists complemented the rediscovery of Marti by Maiiach and Marinello and helped canonize him as the apostle of Cuban independence.
The vanguardia generation's fascination with the heroic times of the Wars of Independence is well manifested not only in Enriquez's recurrent representations of Marti but also in his many paintings of mambises and bandits in action. One outstanding example is Rey de Los campos de Cuba (King of the Cuban Fields, 1935, fig. 18), which depicts a popular and legendary bandit named Manuel Garcia. The King of the Cuban Fields, as he was commonly known, roamed the Cuban countryside at the turn of the century stealing from the wealthy, confronting the Spanish rural guard (as he is about to do in this painting), and offering material help to the needy and to the revolutionary cause. Enriquez's painting (as well as his novel Tilin Garcia, 1939) reinforces the popular legend that presented Manuel Garcia as a criollo hero-a nationalist, a just man, and a fearless fighter for himself and for the guajiro underdog. The artist does not illustrate the subject as much as he personifies and comments on the legend. Enriquez identified with Manuel Garcia to the extent that he endowed him in the painting with his own facial features and restless personality, the latter suggested by the nervous outlines and overlapping of forms in the work. Enriquez chose to represent this unconventional hero as a memory or dream, indicated by the ghostlike appearance of the figure and particularly the horse. He fully evoked the mythic dimension that Manuel Garcfa had acquired in the national popular consciousness of the 1920s and 1930s.
Enrîquez liked to set his romancero guajiro, or "creole ballads," as he called his paintings of this time, in the Cuban countryside. His typical versions of the countryside (more typical than in Horno de carbon) consist of distant, green, rolling hills, windswept royal palm trees, and bright sunlight. Although emblematic in nature, Enriquez's landscapes are some of the first in Cuban painting to evoke the island's intense heat, humidity, and strong air currents.
In representing the guajiro and the countryside as symbols of the nation, the vanguardia painters created a synthetic vision of Cuba rooted in a mixture of native, traditional subject matter and adaptations of imported points of view. Focusing on the life and character of the peasant and the land, they developed two contrasting views of Cuba, one that was critical of the social order and another that idealizeed the people, their culture, and the natural environment. The idyllic vision of the guajiro and the land had a native forerunner in the lithographs of the European traveler-reporter artists and to a lesser extent in nineteenth-century Cuban academic landscape painting such as that of Esteban Chartrand and Valentin Sanz Carta. The critical vision, on the other hand, was relatively new. With the exception of the sharp but anti-Cuban rhetoric of Landaluze's political caricature, an art of social consciousness and criticism entered Cuban culture only upon the arrival of the vanguardia generation-with Blanco in the graphic arts and Fernandez and Enriquez in painting. The difference between the idyllic and the critical visions of Cuba denotes a gap between the high nationalistic ideals and expectations of the revolutionary movement of 1923-34 and the harsh political and economic realities of the time.
Representation of Afrocubans and Their Traditions
The search for significant artistic themes and symbols to express a sense of national identity led writers and artists to explore another major ingredient of the Cuban ajiaco-Afrocubans and their traditions. The writers' and artists' choice of the Afrocuban as a Cuban symbol, like the peasant, was influenced by the vanguardia's increased identification of nationhood with the most humble and exploited sectors of society. In the 1920s and 1930s, as pointed out by Hugh Thomas in his well-documented history, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, there was an "increasing identification of the nation of Cuba ... with the people, the workers, the millworkers, the Negroes, Los humildes."14
In the eighteenth century the Spanish greatly expanded the sugar industry in Cuba and imported hundreds of thousands of African slaves to support it. Africans and their descendants made up the major part of the immense working force that enabled Cuba to become the world's largest sugar exporting country for much of the nineteenth century. Afrocubans played an important role as well in Cuba's drive for independence from Spain, as large numbers of them joined the liberation army. Just as important was the African influence in cultural matters. The slaves who came to Cuba from many parts of Africa contributed their religion, music, dance, language, and cuisine to the ajiaco of Cuban culture.15
African laves and their descendants in Cuba were able to maintain many of their traditions due to their organization into societies known as cabildos.16 In the eighteenth century the Spanish encouraged slaves of the same ethnic or geographical region of Africa to form such cabildos as a way of encouraging social stability. The cabildos gave slaves the opportunity to let off steam through ritual religious celebrations, mutual personal assistance, and community and racial cooperation. But the cabildos were also part of a divide-and-conquer strategy that the Spaniards and creoles used to control the large slave population. Still, the regular gatherings held at the cabildos made possible the perpetuation of African religions, music, dances, and languages in the new setting of Cuba.
Notwithstanding the strong African contribution to the Cuban economy and culture and to the independence movement, the socioeconomic situation of most Afrocubans in the 1920s and 1930s was dismal. The racial solidarity that Marti envisioned for the new republic was still only an ideal kept alive by the sociopolitical vanguard. On the cultural front, however, the integration of the Spanish and African worlds was beginning to coalesce. Many of the vanguard writers, musicians, and artists of the 1920s and 1930s focused their attention on the African heritage of Cuba. They introduced a nexus of Afrocuban themes into music, literature, and art, developing the style or point of view known as afrocubanismo.
Like in the case of the representations of the guajiro and the countryside, the vanguardia painters, and for that matter the writers and musicians of the same generation, were influenced by the concept of modernist primitivism. In the early twentieth century European artists and anthropologists took the lead in the exploration of African culture, encouraged by Europe's extensive colonization of Africa and the Parisian avant-garde taste for things African. Two important pioneers in this trend were Pablo Picasso and Leo Frobenius. Picasso's introduction of the abstractions of African masks in seminal paintings such as Women of Avignon (1907) shattered the traditional Western concept of beauty embodied in previous generations' idealized representations of the white female nude and initiated a period of negrophilie in Europe.17 Frobeniu 's pioneer anthropological work Black Decameron (19ro) also exalted African cultures in contrast to European civilization. "In the remotest corner of Africa," wrote Frobenius, "one might find men and women of lofty views, deep religion and an exalted poetic sense, whereas Europe with all of its achievements is not free from pettiness, envy and all the vices and distemper in Pandora's box."18 Modernist primitivism provided the Cuban vanguardia with the inspiration and the tools to interpret their own African roots. The Cuban vanguardia's representations of Afrocubans were particularly influenced by the tendency in modernist primitivism to view Africans as physically vigorous and inclined toward magic and ritual.
Although afrocubanismo received an important stimulus from modernist primitivism, it also had significant Cuban precursors. In the words of the poet Ramon Guirao, "The Negro fashion was not born in Cuba, as in Europe, without a tradition and removed from the human document."19 One of the earliest and most important mediators between the black and white worlds in Cuba was Ortiz. His pioneer works, discussed earlier, examined the Afrocubans' frequently repressed contributions to Cuban society through a study of their customs, religious practices, and language. His examination and revelation of the African component in Cuban culture encouraged the work of folklorist Lydia Cabrera and played an important role in the development of afrocubanismo in the 1920s and 1930s. Amadeo Roldan, a member of the Grupo Minorista, was the first music composer to incorporate elements of popular Afrocuban music into his work. One of Roldan's best-known compositions, La Rebambaramba (1928), is a ballet in two parts based on the street festivities held in nineteenth-century Havana to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem. The second part of the ballet concentrates on the Afrocubans' celebration of that Christian holiday in the Plaza de San Francisco, where the cabildos were allowed to parade dressed in their own costumes and dancing to drums.20 The ballet's music "gradually becomes more African," explains Alejo Carpentier in his book La musica en Cuba, "leading to the black world of the Epiphany street festivity."21 Another Cuban composer, Alejandro Garcia Caturla, incorporated Afro- cuban rhythms and instruments into orchestral music such as Bembe ( 1929) and La rumba (1933). Bembe was inspired by Afrocuban religious dances, and La rumba by "the spirit of the rumba, all of the rumbas ever heard in Cuba since the arrival of the first Blacks." 22
By the end of the 1920s a strong literary movement based on Afrocuban themes emerged in Havana in the poetry of Jose Z. Tallet, Ramon Guirao, Nicolas Guillen, Emilio Ballagas, Regino Pedroso, and Carpentier. Using a variety of sources, including Garda Lorca's poetry, Afrocuban music and language, and vernacular characters and scenes, these poets developed different expressions of afrocubanismo ranging from the depiction of blacks and mulattoes as musical, sensual, and spiritual people to cries of protest about their social condition.23 All set out to recognze the African element in cubanidad. As described by George R. Coulthard in Race and Color in Caribbean Literature, much of the early writing of these poets is characterized by "dynamic sensuality, a realistic carnality, and a purely rhythmical use of language" while it focuses on music, dance, ritual possession, and violent crimes.24 Action is often reduced to an instinctive animal level, and settings are of poverty. The following passage from Tallet's La rumba (1928), is typical of this direction in early Afrocuban poetry:
And the child Tomasa writhes
and there is a smell of jungle
and there is a smell of Negro sweat
and there is a smell of males
and there is a smell of females
and there is a smell of city tenements
and there is a smell of country barracks
and the two heads are two dry coconuts
on which somebody has written with lime
above, a diaeresis, below a dash
And the two bodies of the two Negroes
are two mirrors of sweat.25
These "primitive" Afrocuban writers were counterbalanced by writers that condemned the social and economic degredation of blacks and mulattoes in Cuban society. The most notable was Nicolas Guillen, whose three books Motivos de/ son (1930), Sangoro Consongo (1931), and West Indies, Ltd. (1934) present poems that integrate Afrocuban rhythms, Yoruba words, popular humor, and sociopolitical protest. In West Indies, Ltd., the critical voice predominates in poems such as "Sabas," which reads in part: "Take your bread, do not beg for it; I take your light, take your definite hope/ like a horse by the bridle."26 This critical voice is also found in the book's title poem: "West Indies! Coconut nuts, tobacco, and rum ... / This is a dark and smiling town, I conservative and liberal,/ of cattle and sugar,/ where at times lots of money flows, I but where living is always worst."27
One of the most important figures in the development of afrocubanismo was Carpentier, who explored Afrocuban themes in poems and in his early novel Ecue-Yamba-O (1933), in which he narrates the life of a "typical" Afrocuban named Menegildo, who tries to survive in a world pervaded with supernatural spirits, misery, and violence.28 The narrative focuses on Afrocuban religious practices, documenting in some detail the mythology, language, rituals, and music involved. The novel reflects Carpentier's serious interest and pioneer research into the subject of Afrocuban culture, which he promoted among his musician and artist friends, particularly the composers Roldan and Cartula and the painter Abela. He collaborated with Roldan on La rebambaramba, a ballet inspired by their visit to an Afrocuban religious ceremony in the town of Regla, across the harbor from Havana.29 He also wrote librettos on Afrocuban themes set to music by Cartula, and he was the catalyst for Abela's pioneer series of drawings and paintings on Afrocuban subjects dating from 1928-29.30
Although the term afrocubanismo is primarily associated with music and literature, a sizable body of paintings and drawings by the vanguardia artists explored the African element in Cuban culture. The painters' representations of Afrocubans and their traditions borrowed ideas and forms from European modern art (Picasso's primitivism for example), contemporary Cuban literature and music, and colonial Cuban art.
Afrocubans were first depicted in the visual arts in Cuba in the late eighteenth century. Figures of blacks drawn from life make early appearances in Elias Durnford's collection of prints, Six Views of the City, Harbour and Country of Havana ( 1765 ), and in Nicolas de la Escalera's painting, Familia de Casa Bayona (Family of Casa Bayona, 1760s), on the walls of the church of Santa Maria del Rosario. As summarized by de Juan in a pioneer study on the portrayal of blacks and mulattoes in colonial Cuban art, "In one case [ the former], he is a secondary character, one more fact in the picturesque vision sought out by the foreign graphic artist in Havana's Old Plaza; in the other, he is a slave, through whom the count of Casa Bayona claims his social high-ranking."31 These two views of Afrocubans, as curiosity and slave, set the tone for their portrayal in nineteenth-century art.
Miahle's prints of Afrocubans, like his prints on the guajiro theme, were a high point in nineteenth-century Cuban art. In both Isla de Cuba pintoresca and Viaje pintoresco alrededor de la isla de Cuba he recorded the presence and activities of blacks in Havana and in the island's interior. Still, he often used the figure of the Afrocuban to add a picturesque or exotic "Cuban" touch to a scene.
In the graphic art of colonial Cuba the most extensive representation of Afrocubans is found in the lithographic marquillas advertising Cuban cigars and cigarettes. In lively genre scenes, blacks and mulattoes were depicted in a derogatory and at times grotesque manner that reflected the dim and fearful view of Afrocubans held by most of the dominant white society (which in 1886 became one of the last in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery).32 Nevertheless, stereotypes about Afrocubans pioneered in the marquillas persisted in Cuban popular art well into the twentieth century. The vanguardia artists reconstructed some of the Afrocuban themes found in the marquillas-scenes of dance, music, and ritual (fig. 19) and the figure of the sensual mulatto woman (fig. 20)-to affirm the African contribution to Cuban culture.
In nineteenth-century Cuban painting the portrayal of a dignified black in Escalera's Familia de Casa Bayona turned out to be an isolated instance. Afrocubans do not appear consistently in Cuban painting until the end of the nineteenth century, with the work of another mulatto, the young woman Juana Borrero (1877-1896), and that of the Spaniard Landaluze. The former, who died prematurely, painted at least two intimate portraits of black and mulatto children, while the latter drew and painted the most complete representation of Afrocubans and their way of life in colonial Cuba.33 Landaluze's long stay on the island, from about 1850 to his death in 1889, and his keen sense of observation give his images of Afrocubans an authentic presence. On the other hand, his impassioned opposition to Cuban independence contributes to their ironic, critical (of Cubans) edge. In exquisitely executed oil paintings Landaluze recorded and often satirized Afrocubans of every shade and occupation, from slaves working in the sugarcane fields to flirtatious mulatto women in the streets of Havana. His depictions of Afrocuban religious ceremonies, such as his magnificent version of the Afrocuban celebration of the Epiphany in Havana, Dia de Los Reyes en La Habana (n.d., fig. 21), are valued, among other things, for their faithful recording of ceremonial dresses, musical instruments, and related paraphernalia. Landaluze's depiction of the peculiar Afrocuban celebration of the Epiphany, while a derivative of Miahle's, demonstrates a new integration of African and European elements as seen in the costumes and accessories of the participants as well as in the greater interaction between them and the white onlookers. In general, the portrayal of Afrocubans in nineteenth-century Cuban prints and paintings offers valuable documentation on the subject while expressing a scenic, extraneous, or disparaging view of blacks and mulattoes.
The vanguardia artists initiated a renewed interest in the representation of Afrocubans in Cuban art, adapting concepts and forms from modernist primitivism and themes from Cuban sources. They brought to the subject a new and positive view of Afrocubans and of their previously ignored contributions to Cuban culture. These painters moved beyond the merely topical, expanded the nucleus of Afrocuban themes, and, in some instances, introduced a critical view of their historical and social condition.
The vanguardia artists' treatment of the subject is first seen in the illustrations of Revista de Avance. Abela, Arciaga, Enriquez, Gattorno, and Jaime Valls portrayed Afrocubans as "noble savages" who lived close to nature, as musicians and dancers seemingly possessed, as menial workers scraping out a living, and as strong mothers caring for their children. In styles ranging from art deco (Gattorno and Valls) to expressionism (Abela and Enriquez), they re-created old picturesque or exotic forms, introduced new, yet often related primitive styles, and germinated socially conscious images of Afrocubans.
Two vanguardia artists who often criticized the depressed economic condition of Afrocubans in their work were Rafael Blanco and Alberto Pefia. In the drawing El cesto de papeles (Waste Paper Basket, n.d., fig. 22), Blanco, a painter and political cartoonist, used a realist-expressionist style to satirize the electoral process, emphasizing a large figure of a black janitor to signify the low status most Afrocubans could aspire to in the new republic. The economic plight of Afrocubans was also taken up by the black painter Pena, better known as Pefiita. In Sin trabajo (Unemployed, 1937, fig. 23 ), he lamented the unemployment most Afrocubans suffered in the depression era through the image of its hardest hit victim-a black woman set in front of a landscape of factories. In contrast to the depressed, passive stance of the black worker shown in Sin trabajo, other paintings by Pefiita, such as La llamada del ideal (The Calling of the Ideal, 1936), express an active appeal to workers, black and white, to carry on the revolution begun by Marti.
For the most part, however, the vanguardia artists concentrated on expressing the immense African musical and religious contributions to cubanidad. One of the first to deal with these subjects was Abela. During his Parisian stay he produced a series of expressive and nostalgic paintings on the subject of Afrocuban music, ceremonies, and legendary characters. One of the most renowned, El triunfo de la rumba (The Triumph of the Rumba, 1928, plate 1), suggests a carnival scene expressed through a mermaid costumed female dancer and musicians playing hand drums, or tumbadoras, on what seems to be a parade float. The work's brilliant colors, its motif of palm and banana leaves, and its view of the ocean places the action in Cuba or the Caribbean. To the extent that modern Cuban carnivals are the descendant of Afrocuban celebrations of Catholic religious feasts, such as in the case of the Epiphany, Abela's painting is the modern successor to Miahle's and Landaluze's Dia de las Reyes. More specifically, this painting is about the then-growing national and international popularity of the Cuban rumba, set in the popular context of the carnival. Abela evokes the music, its characteristic emphatic rhythm, through the figures' contorted poses. The strong emphasis on the formal element of rhythm to express one of the perceived essences of Afrocubans is something that Abela shared with contemporary Cuban poets and musicians such as Tallet and Roldan.
In a related painting from his Parisian period, El gallo mistico (The Mystic Rooster, ca. 1928, fig. 24), Abela represented a less diluted aspect of the African heritage-Afrocuban religious ceremonies. There are Cuban forerunners for his subject matter; Abela's contribution was recasting a traditional theme in an expressionistic rather than a realist style. He strongly visualizes a night ritual of energetic dance and sacrifice but without going into any kind of detail. His modernist style aimed to express the emotion or mood more than any particular event. This approach assumed an affirmative look at Afrocuban culture but one that did not abandon the element of exoticism.
The fact that these two paintings were made in Paris at the height of the "negro fashion" in that city accounts in part for the Afrocuban subject matter. Abela's view of Afrocubans as energetic and rhythmic and of Cuba as an exotic land given to wild festivities and rituals was influenced by long-standing French views about the Caribbean. This vision also has close affinities with modernist primitivism's representation of the African Other as vital and ritualistic. Abela's contact with the art of Jules Pascin and Marc Chagall also helped him to develop the formal and conceptual means for the interpretation of his native land. The former's watercolor impressions of Cuba, produced while traveling in the Caribbean in the 1910s, and the latter's nostalgic memories of his native Russia provided Abela with modern stylistic and iconographic models to adapt to his own needs.
Enrîquez's Tocadores (Music Players, 1935, fig. 25) shares with Abela's El triunfo de la rumba an emphasis on animated rhythm and dance to express one of the main African contributions to Cuban culture and people: "innate" musicality. Enriquez, however, went further than Abela in suggesting the swift movement of Afrocuban music and dance by using bold curves, thrusting diagonals, some distortion of forms, and selective blurring of outlines. Moreover, Enriquez's perceptive visual description of the musicians' ethnicity, and their characteristically Caribbean combination of musical instruments (voice, Spanish guitar, and bongo drums) place the work in a historical and geographical context. Inspired in Afrocuban musical combos of that time, such as that of Maria Teresa Vera and Isaac Oviedo and His Family, the painting celebrates Cuban popular music and gives it a new visual dimension. The hooded figure in the background alludes to the religious roots of much Afrocuban music.
Enriquez also took an early interest in the representation of Afrocuban religion and myth, as is demonstrated in his expressionistic and surreal Virgen del Cobre (Our Lady of El Cobre, ca. 1933, fig. 26). The general composition and subject matter of this painting are loosely based on a popular national legend about the early-seventeenth-century discovery by three fishermen of a wooden statue of Our Lady of Charity in the Bay of Nipe (Santiago de Cuba) during or after a storm. Because people believed that the statue had miraculous powers, a sanctuary was built for it in the nearby mining town of El Cobre, which in the following centuries became a major place of pilgrimage for Cubans. On September 8, 1936, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre officially became Cuba's patron saint. Straying from the traditional Catholic view, Enriquez represented her as the Yoruba deity Ochun, with whom Our Lady of El Cobre is syncretized in Santeria.34 This Afrocuban religion links Yoruban deities, known as orishas, to Catholic saints and powers. 35 Originally this syncretism allowed its Yoruban-Cuban practitioners outwardly to abide by the religious proprieties of the Catholics who surrounded them while covertly practicing a creative reorganization of their own traditional religion. Ochun is the goddess of rivers and beauty, a voluptuous and sensual woman who enjoys partying and dancing. Enrfquez emphasized the Ochun manifestation of Cuba's patron saint by referring to the deity in a shortened version of her Catholic name, painting her with strong negroid features, showing two Afrocuban devotees vigorously dancing in her honor, and including in the boat a large and mysterious African mask (or head). Furthermore, the painting's dramatic lightning sky may be an allusion to the Yoruba (Santeria) god Chango, the unpredictable orisha of thunder and lightning and the husband of Ochun. In all Enriquez's Virgen de/ Cobre offers a personal and striking visual interpretation of the finding of Cuba's patron saint (its cult statue), with emphasis on the Afrocuban contribution to this national figure and myth.
The expression of afrocubanismo seen in Enrfquez's paintings of the 1930s has a similar context to that of Abela. Its subject matter is influenced by Cuban traditional and contemporary sources from colonial prints to avant-garde poetry and popular music and folklore. On the other hand, Enriquez's contact with Spanish and French modern art and literature also encouraged him to look at Cuba's African heritage. His personal version of modernist primitivism was originally adapted from various sources, with surrealism at the top. Most important, the four paintings by Abela and Enriquez discussed above are the modern precursors of a long line of twentieth-century Cuban art inspired by Afrocuban dance, music, and religion.
In the 1940s, when afrocubanismo in literature and classical music was in decline and could no longer be considered a movement, modern Cuban painters continued their interest in expressing the African presence in Cuban life. Of the vanguardia painters, Enrfquez renewed his exploration of the subject and Wifredo Lam made his notable contribution to it. Enriquez's visit to Haiti in 1945 reactivated his interest in the Caribbean's African heritage and particularly its religious legacy. There he made numerous ink and watercolor representations of voodoo deities and religious objects. He also depicted secular scenes of the people and the countryside. The motif of Haitian-African ritual masks found it way into his paintings and the costumes he designed for the 1947 ballet Antes del Alba (Before Sunrise) by Alberto Alonso.
On returning to Cuba in 1941 after a twenty-year absence, Lam was struck by the luxurious landscape of the island and the persistence of his ancestors' African myths and religious practices.36 He immediately began to explore these aspects of Cuba's natural and cultural environment, producing in the next few years some of his most renowned paintings, such as La silla (The Chair, 1943, plate 8). In a new, personal style with a strong cubist influence he depicted a vase with foliage, on a chair placed outdoors in front of a dense landscape of sugarcane and leaves resembling tobacco. This large still life/landscape is painted in various greens and yellows, with a few red accents. Unusually for Lam, the pigment is applied in thick layers. The choice of color and texture adds to the sense of a rich, tropical environment. However, the image suggests more than just a "primitive" celebration of Cuba's "sensual" nature.
The vase with leaves placed on a chair and located in a thicket evokes an offering to a deity or nature spirit. In Afrocuban religion, orishas are closely associated with nature, where they live and reign over certain plants, minerals, areas, or phenomena. Cabrera, who was a friend of Lam at that time, explained in her seminal work El monte that, to Afrocubans, mantes or maniguas, thickets, like the jungles of Africa, were home to ancestral divinities and powerful spirits and therefore places of prayers and offerings.37 The chair motif is also significant in that Yorubas refer to altars as seats of the gods.38 In all the image of La silla strongly suggests an improvised altar with an offering to an orisha. However, its reference to Afrocuban culture is symbolic, in contrast to the mostly narrative approach of the rest of the vanguardia painters.
Lam's landscape backgrounds of this period, such as the one of La silla, also evoke economic-historical connotations in the insistent representation of sugarcane and tobacco leaves. More than any other factors, these crops have shaped Cuba's politics, economy, and culture. "Tobacco and sugar are the most important characters in the history of Cuba," wrote Ortiz in his most popular book, Contrapunteo cubano de/ tabaco y el azucar (1940).39 He went on to explain that from Cuba's "ethnic formation to its social makeup, its political vicissitudes, and international relations," all are intimately related to the different agricultural and industrial requirements for the production of sugar and tobacco.40 Sugar in particular played a preeminent role in the importation of large numbers of African slaves to produce it, and consequently it was also responsible for the tremendous effect blacks have had on Cuba's "ethnic formation to its social make-up." Ortiz's book may have opened Lam's eyes to the close historical relationship that existed between sugar, tobacco, and Afrocubans. In this context Lam's choice of these plants for his background landscapes of the early 194os not only refers to Cuba's vegetation par excellent, but also evokes in the case of sugar: the slave trade, hard work, unsteady employment due to its seasonal production, and a roller coaster economy based on fluctuating world markets. This interpretation does not exclude the earlier one that his landscapes of the early 1940s represented the sacred abode of the orishas. To African slaves and to many of their descendants in the Caribbean, the land they came to inhabit represented both labor camp and holy ground.
From the point of view of the vanguardia generation, La silla is a late manifestation of their interest in the artistic expression of the neglected African presence in the island. Its affinities, however, are with the work of Cabrera and Guillen rather than the more stereotypical treatment of Afrocubans still found in vanguardia painting. This may be explained by the fact Lam was an Afrocuban himself, being the offspring of a partly Congolese mother and a Chinese father. He knew the Afrocuban world, at least during his childhood, from within. Lam's more universal vision of Afrocubans is also explained by his direct contact with the expansive "modernist primitivism" of Picasso and Andre Breton, and by his encounter with the Negritude philosophy of the poet Aime Cesaire, whom he met in Martinique in 1941.
Toward a Multifaceted Cultural Identity
Taken in their totality, the works of art examined above indicate that the vanguardia's artistic and cultural expression of national identity was not monolithic or parochial. It included European, African, traditional, modern, native, and imported elements coexisting in different degrees of fusion and tension. The two most recurrent symbols of cubanidad seen in the art of this generation-the mostly "white" peasant and the Afrocuban-point to the primarily bipolar nature of Cuban society. Due to the lateness of independence, massive migrations from Spain in the early twentieth century, and the late entry of large numbers of slaves from Africa, Cuba was the most Spanish and at the same time the most African of Spain's former colonies. This paradox informs Cuban vanguard art. Some of it expresses the Spanish legacy, other the African ancestry, and a few examples the mixture of the two. In this light, the iconography of the paintings studied above suggests that the Cuban ajiaco was only beginning to simmer and the dominant Spanish and African ingredients were yet to blend.
Another major duality present in the vanguardia's artistic expression of national ethos is the quest for a synthesis of tradition and modernism, the native and the imported. In Cuban culture, the indigenous or Pre-Columbian element was very weak due to the early annihilation of the Indian population. That which could be considered native was a creole culture that began to take shape only in the nineteenth century. Thus Cuban traditions were young and still forming. On the other hand, Cuba's geography and history encouraged the importation of everything. Cuba's position at the center of one of the most frequented maritime routes in the Americas opened it to a constant flow of news, ideas, inventions, and products of all kinds. This openness to the outside world was further stimulated by extensive travel abroad. The Cuban vanguard, while strong backers of national sovereignty and the affirmation of native culture and traditions, embraced "the introduction and popularization in Cuba of the latest artistic and scientific doctrines, theories, and practices," as stated in the Grupo Minorista's 1927 Declaration. The nationalist and modernist projects were inseparable. In art this meant the importation and adaptation of European and Mexican modern art to eradicate the worn-out artistic practices as represented by the San Alejandro Academy of Art. It also implied a universalizing approach to Cuban themes and symbols, whereby, as stated by Marinello, artists learned to view the indigenous with the eyes of foreigners and to see the foreign with Cuban eyes.
The strong contribution of the vanguardia painters to the ongoing building of a Cuban national identity was to give concrete visual expression or symbolic form to their generation's concept of the nation-as-the-landpeople-and-culture. This contribution, however, is not a thing of the past. Today the paintings of the vanguardia are considered national icons and many of the ones discussed above are prominently displayed at the Museo Nacional in Havana. In part, the reason for their lasting relevance lies in the fact that their multifaceted vision of Cuba as semi-Spanish-Africantraditional-and-modern is still valid and part of the national debate on what constitutes a Cuban identity.
Chapter 3: The Vanguardia Generation and the Re-creation of a National Identity
1. Nestor Garcia Caclini, "La modernidad despues de la postmodernidad," in Moraes Belluzo, ed:, Modernidade, 206.
2. Perez Cisneros, "Pintura y escultura en 1943," 93.
3. For a critical study and excellent reproductions of a wide selection of marquillas, see Nunez Jimenez, Cuba en las marquilllas cigarreras del siglo XIX.
4. For basic biographical information on Laplante and examples of his lithographs on the Cuban sugar mills, see Pintura espaiiola y cubana y litografias y grabados cubanos del siglo XIX (exhibition catalogue).
7. Clifford, The Predicament of Culture, chapter 9.
8. Luis Felipe Rodriguez, Cienega (Havana: Editorial Arte y Literatura, 1975 ), 35.
9. Ibid., 36.
10. Ibid., 58. The three "Juanes" is a generic reference to the three fishermen who, according to popular legend, found the cult image of Cuba's patron saint, the Virgin of Charity, at sea.
11. See Bueno, Medio siglo de literatura cubana and Lazo, Historia de la litera-tura cubana for informative analysis of these writers and their literature. 12. Ibarra, Un analisis psicosocial del cubano: 1898-192.5, 189.
13. Dos Passos, "The Poor Whites of Cuba," Esquire (May 1936).
14. Thomas, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, 601.
15. For information on African ethnic groups in Cuba, see Rafael L. Lopez Valdes, Componentes africanos en los etnos cubanos (Havana, 1985).