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Vivant’s Pop-Up Shop – The Vault

Jun14, 2016

Vivant has acquired vast amounts of art from African-American artists, Cuba, Mexico and Haiti which blend African, European and North American design reflecting the diverse demographic of these regions.

Traditional African-American art forms include a range of plastic arts, from basket weaving, pottery, and quilting to woodcarving and painting. Many slaves arrived from Africa as skilled artisans, having worked in these or similar media. In the southern states between the 17th and early 19th centuries, art took the form of small drums, quilts, wrought-iron figures and ceramic vessels, similar to those in West and Central Africa compared to their New New England counterparts who created art that was conceived in a western European fashion for their local markets. After the Civil War, African-American artists produced works for the purpose of having them exhibited in museums as this practice became increasingly common. These works were mostly in the European romantic and classical traditions of landscapes and portraits. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was one of the most notable movements in African-American art producing notable artists including Richmond Barthé, Aaron Douglas, Lawrence Harris and Palmer Hayden. In the 1950s and 1960s, few African-American artists were widely known or accepted as it was impossible to find galleries interested in selling artworks by a group of unknown, self-taught African Americans. After the Second World War, artists began exhibiting and relocating abroad to more welcoming cities like Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Stockholm. By the 1980s and 1990s, hip-hop graffiti became predominate in urban communities. Most major cities had developed museums devoted to African-American artists with the National Endowment for the Arts provided increasing support for these artists.

The development of Latin American art can be examined in three main stages: the pre-hispanic era, the colonial period, and the period after independence.

Before European conquest, the art was indigenous and mainly tied to religion and the ruling class. The European conquest led to centuries of colonial rule, and art production remained tied to religion but secular art expanded in the eighteenth century in media such as casta paintings, portraiture, and history painting. Indigenous elements remained, beginning a continuous balancing act between European and indigenous traditions. After nations received their respective Independence, Latin American art remained heavily European in style, but indigenous themes appeared in major works as each nation sought to distinguish itself from its colonial past.

Movements like The Social Realism or Mexican muralist movement later formed led by artists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and Fernando Leal, who were commissioned by the post-Mexican Revolution government to create a visual narrative of Mexican history and culture. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Cuban artists became more isolated from the anti-establishment artistic movements of the United States and Europe. Many artists pursued their careers in exile while others continued to  create art in Cuba, which was sponsored by the government with implied censorship. It was during the 1980’s in which art began to reflect true uninfluenced expression. The “rebirth” of expression in Cuban art was greatly affected by the emergence of a new generation of Cubans.

Haitian artists study in different “schools” of painting, such as the Cap-Haïtien school, which features depictions of daily life in the city, the Jacmel School, which reflects the steep mountains and bays of the coastal town, or the Saint-Soleil School, which is characterized by abstracted human forms and is heavily influenced by Vodou symbolism. The market painting is a Haitian archetype, originating with Laurent Casimir. It typically depicts a Haitian market and is done in the trademark colors of red, yellow and orange and is often dense with people.


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