Art Tours to Cuba for USA Art Educators, Museum Curators and Staff, Art Critics and Professionals, Artists, Art Collectors and Enthusiasts
From May 20, 2015 to May 27, 2017
Choose to stay at the Riviera Hotel (Economy Package) or at the National Hotel (Premium Package) for as Little as $2,329! (all taxes incl.)
Referral Discount: $100
Look, learn and enjoy during this unique opportunity to simultaneously experience both a Cuba cultural tour and an immersion into one of the most interesting art festivals in the western hemisphere. A thematically-based, Cuban arts festival, the Havana Biennial is an exciting celebration featuring not only the best of Cuban visual artists, but also artists from other countries in what has become collectively known as the “South:” Latin America, the Caribbean, and from developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
North American professional and student artists, art teachers, researchers, and collectors, and arts organization professionals will particularly benefit from this Cuba cultural tour. However, anyone who simply enjoys viewing and learning more about art will also enjoy the extensive program made possible by Authentic Cuba Travel’s long term association with some of the most innovative and influential artists working in Cuba, and well as key Cuba art institutions.
The Biennial was founded in 1984 and since then has grown into a huge, multi-venue forum for artists to showcase work that can be beautiful, provocative, intriguing, humorous, or sometimes, all of the above! With art exhibitions and installations taking over virtually every nook and cranny of Cuba cultural institutions, even the walls of buildings and the streets of Havana become lively galleries stimulating both discussion and contemplation. And in addition to all the work on view, the Havana Biennial also features film and video screenings, practical workshops led by master artists, and academic panels and presentations.
In addition to roaming the exhibitions, one of the most exhilarating aspects of the Authentic Cuba Travel itinerary is the chance to spend time one-on-one with some of the most well respected artists working in Cuba today. With our informative studio visits, Authentic Cuba Tours participants have the opportunity to converse intimately with internationally recognized artists about their own work, as well as trends in contemporary Cuba art.
With Authentic Cuba Travel, you’ll feel like a Havana Biennial VIP! Private tours, exclusive access, and fascinating artist encounters are just a few of the special features of this Cuba art tour. On top of all the art, you’ll also have other Cuba cultural opportunities like learning about the history of Old Havana through an amazing walking tour of its plazas—and who would want to miss experiencing the food, music, and natural beauty of authentic Cuba?
Seats at the published international airfare rates are limited, so make sure to book your Cuba Art Tour immediately! Our day-to-day itinerary will give you all the detail you need.
AUTHENTIC CUBA TRAVEL ANNOUNCES:
The XIII Havana Art Biennial Cuba Tour
(May 20, 2017- May 27, 2017)
Cuba Art Travel for Anyone Who Loves Art, Artists, and Festivals!
Official Havana Biennial Cuba Art Travel for as little as $1,999!
US Cultural and Educational Organizations can sponsor and organize travel to Cuba under the General License for Public Performances, Workshops, Clinics, Exhibitions and Athletic or non-Athletic Competitions.
U.S. citizens can travel to Cuba under this general license to participate in a public performance, clinic, workshop, athletic competition or exhibition in the Caribbean island if meeting certain OFAC criteria.
Such as; the event held in Cuba is open for attendance by the Cubans. U.S. profits (after cost) will be donated to an independent Cuban organization or U.S. based charity for the benefit of the Cuban people and to promote the people-to-people exchange in between American and Cuban citizens.
Clinics and workshops in Cuba must be held under the auspices and sponsorship of an authorized US organization.
Read more on How to Travel to Cuba Legally
We can take care of all details both in North America and in Cuba, including VISA and flight arrangements to Cuba’s main destinations via USA ports (Miami, Tampa, New York, or other) or through third countries like Canada and Mexico. Authorized US organizations can travel through a third country subject to the same restrictions and requirements as those flying directly from USA.
At Authentic Cuba Travel, we have been organizing such event related travel experiences to Cuba from the United States of America for years with great success.
Rene Pena, a highly– recognized Cuban photographer, is known for creating provocative imagistic explorations of the connections between institutions and racial, religious and sexual identity. While he has primarily worked in black and white photography, Pena has more recently been experimenting with both color and digital photography. In this photo, he looks over work for the XII Havana Biennial with Authentic Cuba Travel's Luis D’Aguiar.
The theme of the XI Havana Biennial was “artistic practices and the social imaginary.” This continued a long tradition of themes that look at the intersection between art and culture, and the role of the artist in the construction of meaning both within the artwork itself and within the society through the use of historical and cultural references. The Biennial serves as important bridge between Cuban artists, their own society and an international audience. Our Cuba Tours exposes complex aspect of the authentic Cuba to tour participants.
The exhibitions at Cuba’s National School of Fine Arts, the ISA, during the 2012 Havana Biennial attracted international attention. One of the most provocative works was by Manolo Castro and Alberto and Julio Lorente. A hyper-realistic figure of Osama Bin Laden lay blissfully recumbent upon an oriental carpet in a darkened room. Simply called “He,” it was widely reported by the international press. Cuba Art Tours participants will get to see the latest work at the ISA during the 2015 Havana Biennial.
One performance which attracted a multitude of interested people at the last Havana Art Biennial was Mendive’s “Spirit, Nature & Heads”: dancers from dance companies such as the National Folkloric Group walked down Prado Street, from the Saratoga Hotel to the Orígenes Art Gallery, located at the Great Theatre of Havana, where the artist waited for them to paint on their nude bodies, while the pianist Pura Ortiz played Baroque music.
More and more Americans are discovering the Havana Biennial. In 2012, 1300 Americans attended with most being international collectors, museum curators, and gallery dealers. The work of contemporary Cuban artists has caught the eye of illustrious organizations like London’s Tate Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and MOMA. With Authentic Cuba Travel, you’ll feel like a VIP from the art world, too. Authentic Cuba Travel is proud to have facilitated USA Cuba travel arrangements for hundreds of art professionals over the years.
During the Havana Art Biennial Cuba tour, we will visit the studio of Juan Carlos Alom who actively works in experimental photography as well as film and video. He is also responsible for founding a studio in Cuba where artists can work and screen their videos. His work often incorporates elements of ritual, magical realism, and Afro-Cuban religion set into tableaux that he then photographs.
The Havana Biennial takes place every two years and is centered at Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, simply known by most as La Cabaña. This Spanish fortress, built in the 1700s, was used by Che Guevara as his headquarters during the Cuban revolution. It is also the site of a popular evening outing for our Cuba Tours participants, the ritual firing of a cannon at 9pm each evening.
More than 180 artists representing 45 countries participated in the XI Havana Art Biennial. The art of Cuba, however, takes center stage and along with the officially curated exhibitions, there are many related programs and gallery exhibits. Artists push the boundaries in contemporary Cuba, giving voice to many different perspectives on Cuba’s history and future.
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Day 1: Saturday, 20 May 2017.
Your Havana Art Biennial
Cuba Tours guide will meet you at Jose Marti International Airport. After welcoming you to Cuba, your guide will introduce you to your driver for this art discovery journey. This important pair will be with your during your entire stay to insure an effortless and interesting experience of authentic Cuba!
After a short bus ride, you’ll check in to either Hotel Nacional de Cuba
(P) or Hotel Riviera
A complimentary breakfast is served at the hotel from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Day 2: Sunday, 21 May 2017.
“Cuba Insight- Getting to Know Havana's Art Scene”
The Official Cuba Tour to the Havana Art Biennial
gets off to a great start with a full day of art that is sure to capture your imagination. We’ll begin the morning at Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña
, referred to locally as La Cabaña. This fortress, completed in the 1740s, is the main venue of the 13th Havana Art Biennial 2017
. It’s ancient walls and grounds make for an amazing space in which to view art. Enjoy some time to roam the venue and get acquainted.
Callejon de Hamel
, a community grounded art installation, was created by Salvador Gonzales
. In this central Havana alley, you’ll experience the vibrancy of Mr. Gonzalez’s fanciful creations, and get the chance to speak directly with the artist about the role of Cuba’s African heritage and why he chose this particular location.
The evocative world of Fusterlandia
is a highpoint of the Cuba Travel experience. Your luncheon host, Jose Fuster
, has been called the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” More than 80 of Mr. Fuster’s neighbors have offered their homes as sites for him to weave his artistic magic.
Visiting an artist’s studio is like a small window into the artist’s mind and heart. This afternoon you’ll get to explore those spaces with visits to the workplaces of some notable contemporary artists like Alicia Leal
and her husband Juan Moreira
as well as younger artists like Juan Carlos Alom
and the Britos’ Sisters
making their mark on the Cuban art scene.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to share directly with the artists, ask them questions about their work and methods, and see the diverse influences, heritages, and imaginations at play. Meeting with Cuban artists up close and personal is an exclusive experience of our Cuba Tours.
Return to Hotel.
We’ll return to La Cabaña
for a gorgeous evening view of Havana and some costumed splendor as one of Havana’s oldest traditions is carried out, Fire of the Cannon of 9 O'Clock
Day 3: Monday, 22 May 2017. "Cuba Explorer- Old Havana Discovery"
Your Cuba travel plans for today begins at the organization responsible for putting together the Havana Art Biennial
. The Wifredo Lam Center
bears the name of one of Cuba’s most renowned painters.
As a modernist, Lam’s word borrowed themes and imagery from an array of cultures. Today, the Lam Center does something similar in the way it advances the contemporary art of Cuba and that of other developing countries.
At the Wifredo Lam Center
, you can find out just how they manage to make Havana over into one giant art gallery every two years— and they can explain the complexities of choosing a theme for the Biennial, as well as the curatorial process.
Printmaking is one of the most genuine art forms in Cuba as we will see in the next visit of our Cuban journey. Cuban artists have developed printmaking into an incredible varied and expressive medium. At the Taller Experimental de Gráfica
, a cooperative workshop, you’ll observe young lithographers plying their art.
It’s time for a little dose of Cuban history with a guided walking tour through the Plazas
(Squares) of Old Havana
, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
. Before lunch we’ll visit two very old and very impressive plazas, the Cathedral Square
and the Square of Arms
Catedral de La Habana
loans both its name and presence to Cathedral Square
. Built over a period of thirty years in the mid 1700s, this beautiful baroque architectural masterpiece is dedicated to Christopher Columbus. It is famous for its asymmetrical towers, a design feature hit upon to channel water away from the plaza.
The Plaza de Armas
, or the “Square of Arms” is named for the fact that the Spanish military drilled in the Square. Historically, it’s the center of Habana Vieja
, and still boasts many imposing buildings that have lasted since the Spanish colonialist era.
Perhaps most imposing and poignant is the moated Castillo de La Real Fuerza
. Look for one of the city’s most loved images: La Giraldilla
, a bronze statue of Hernado de Soto wife, Dona Isabel, who is said to have died of a broken heart after learning that her husband expired after discovering the Mississippi River.
Paladar is a Cuban term that refers to private family-run businesses. The Cuban term has its origin in a Brazilian soap opera played in Cuba in the early 1990s. Today we’ll have lunch at the stylish paladar Cafe Laurent
, offering excellent food and fabulous views of the city.
After lunch we’ll traverse by the hand of our Authentic Cuba Travel guide two more beautiful plazas, Plaza Vieja
and Plaza de San Francisco
During our stroll through Plaza Vieja
or “Old Square,” your Authentic Cuba guide will orient you to some important institutions to which we’ll be returning later during your tour including the Fototeca de Cuba
and the Center for the Development of Visual Arts
In addition to its famous fountain with four marble dolphins, Old Square
has several beautifully restored buildings worth noting such as Palacio Viena Hotel
and Colegio del Santo Angel
. Part of Habana Vieja since the 1500s, Old Square is still a vibrant spot.
Another fountain graces the Square of San Francisco of Assisi
, this one with lions. Almost as old as Old Square, the Square of San Francisco was given a baroque facelift in the 1700s, and this is the architectural style that remains. The dominant building on the plaza is the Convent of St. Francis
. At present a concert hall and museum space, the convent serves as one of the major venues of the 2015 Havana Art Biennial
Enjoy some free time to wander the Havana Art Biennial 2017
exhibitions, talk to the artists, and don’t forget to enjoy a little people watching too.
Return to hotel.
There’s nothing more exciting than Cuban rhythms played live by the musicians of the authentic Cuba. Tonight you can tap your toes or swing your hips with live rumba, timba, and other popular varieties of Cuban dance music.
Day 4: Tuesday, 23 May 2017. "Cuba Insight- Artistic Education"
The art students of Cuba's National Art Schools
(ISA), a competitive conservatory-like program, represent the best of Cuba’s artistic future. They also participate significantly in the Havana Art Biennial 2017 with their own sophisticated installations, conceptual pieces, and works based in traditional mediums like painting, printmaking and sculpture.
During our Cuba Tours, we usually include a tour of the ISA, so that tour participants are able to engage in dialogue with both faculty and students about the work on display.
Lunch: Enjoy El Aljibe restaurant
’s house specialty, wonderful roasted chicken in mojo to an accompaniment of live music.
Afternoon: Habana Art Gallery
is another important site for the XII Havana Art Biennial that will compliment the Cuba Travel experience. One of the oldest art institutions in La Habana, you are sure to find cutting edge work on display along with a knowledgeable staff and talented, rising artists.
The second part of our tour of artist studios includes some dynamic artists working in varied media. Lazaro Saavedra
, a graduate of the ISA, is a conceptual artist. Rene Pena
is known for his exploration of the connection between individuals and institutions and how racial, religious and sexual identity comes in to play. Jose Angel Toirac
is an internationally awarded installation artist as well as painter.
Return to hotel.
Tonight, experience the art of authentic Cuban Jazz
with a trip to Club La Zorra y El Cuervo
, one of Havana’s premiere jazz venues. (optional, not included)
Day 5: Wednesday, 24 May 2017. "Authentic Cuba- Vinales Valley"
Prepare to feast your eyes on a variety of sights today ranging from striking geological features to perhaps the biggest painting in Cuba. We’ll take a break from the city and tour one of the most magnificent natural areas of authentic Cuba, the Vinales Valley
One thing you’ll notice right away is the prehistoric looking hills with rounded tops and precipitous sides. Called mogotes
, these formations combine with the alleuvial plains separating them to create a jaw-dropping landscape.
Here we’ll find tobacco farmers
cultivating their crops. Cuban tobacco, best known in the form of the coveted Cuban cigar, is still farmed using traditional techniques.
On the way to Cueva del Indio
, your Cuba art tour will also visit Mural de la Prehistoria
. The artist, Leovigildo Morillos, emulated ancient cave-painting technique in his massive mural depicting the evolution of the world from a local viewpoint.
Lunch: The restaurant at Cueva del Indio
will be the site for lunch today.
Cueva del Indio
is a series of caves containing underground stream. We’ll explore this natural feature and learn about its history while taking a boat ride through the caverns. A famous retreat for slaves evading their Spanish masters, the caverns were first used as burial sites and hiding places by early Amerindians.
After our tour of Cueva del Indio, there will be time to visit Viñales town
at a leiasurely pace. Stop in the cigar shop for an authentic Cuban cigar, enjoy the handicrafts at the Viñales artisans’ market
, or just enjoy the sights of this quaint town.
Return to Havana City.
Day 6: Thursday, 25 May 2017. "Cuba Absolutely- Arts & History"
Today we’ll return to Habana Vieja
and visit a number of Cuban art institutions serving as venues for the Havana Art Biennial 2015. Along with viewing artwork, you’ll also learn from the staffs at these celebrated institutions, a highlight of your Cuba Travel experience.
First up is the Museum of Fine Arts
. The Cuban collection of the museum is located in The Palace of Fine Arts
building of the museum. Housing the work of notable Cuban artists like Wifredo Lam
, Rene Portocarrero
and Rita Lonja
, the museum also has a notable collection of religious art and Costumbrismo from the 1600-1800s.
Lunch: The midday meal is your leisure at one Old Havana’s many restaurants. (not included)
Over the afternoon, you’ll have more opportunities to interact with artists, curators, and other arts professionals as we visit several interesting organizations working to promote and preserve the visual arts of authentic Cuba.
At The Center for the Development of Visual Arts
, the Fototeca de Cuba
, and La Casona Gallery
, you’ll learn about current movements in the visual arts in Cuba and what has given rise to new developments. Whether your personal tastes incline to painting, sculpture, photography or other media, you’re sure to gain important insights.
Return to your hotel.
Evening: We always recommend enriching our Cuba cultural tours with a trip to experience the National Ballet of Cuba
Day 7: Friday, 26 May 2017. "Havana- Cuba Adventurer"
Now that you’ve had a taste of all that Havana offers during the remarkable days of the Havana Art Biennial 2017
, you get a day to explore and experience at your favorite spots and at your own pace.
Whether you want to revisit one of the venues to contemplate the work, you’ve decided to purchase art for your collection, or you just want to wander, enjoy your day.
If you need any assistance with the paperwork to clear any original works you’ve purchased, please see your Authentic Cuba Travel tour guide.
Evening: We’ll have a farewell dinner at Cafe del Oriente
Return to your hotel.
Day 8: Saturday, 27 May 2017. “Good-bye Cuba”
Buen viaje! Your Authentic Cuba Tours team will facilitate your early morning departure to Jose Marti International Airport.
Overview on Cuba's Visual Arts
Cuban art is a very diverse cultural blend of African, European and North American design reflecting the diverse demographic of the island.
The radical artistic movements that transformed European art in the first decades of the century arrived in Latin America in the 1920s to form part of a vigorous current of artistic, cultural, and social innovation.
By the late 1920's, the Vanguardia artists had rejected the academic conventions of Cuba's national art academy. In their formative years, many had lived in Paris, where they studied and absorbed the tenets of surrealism, cubism, and modernist primitivism.
Modernism burst on the Cuban scene as part of the critical movement of national regeneration that arose in opposition to the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado, American neo-colonial control and the consequent economic crisis.
They returned to Cuba committed to new artistic innovation and keen to embrace the heritage of their island. These artists became increasingly political in their ideology, viewing the rural poor as symbols of national identity in contrast to the ruling elite of post independence Cuba.
The masters of the first generation of Cuban modernism set the stage for the prevalence of certain themes that would govern Cuban art after 1930, and which would have varying degrees of impact on those generations that would later emerge entirely in exile after 1960.
Between 1934 and 1940, and still reeling from the overthrow of Machado, Cuba was searching for its cultural identity in its European and African roots. The landscape, flora, fauna, and lore of the island, as well as its peasants-the often neglected foundation of Cuba’s soul and economy-emerged in its art.
After the Cuban revolution of 1959 Cuban artists became more isolated from the anti-establishment artistic movements of the United States and Europe. Though artists continued to produce work in Cuba, many pursued their careers in exile.
By the late 1970s many of the graduates of the school of the arts in Cuba, “the Facultad de Artes Plasticas of the Instituto Superior de Arte” (founded in 1976) were going to work as school teachers, teaching art to young Cubans across the island. This gave a platform for the graduates to be able to teach students about freedom of expression.
This meant freedom of expression in many forms including medium, message, and style of art. It was this new level of experimentation and expression that was able to enable the movement of the 1980s.
Cubans saw the introduction of an art exhibit titled “Volumen Uno” in 1981, an exhibit that featured contemporary Cuban artists displaying their work in a series of one man exhibitions. Three years later, the introduction of the “Havana Bienal” assisted in the further progression of the liberation of art and free speech therein.
This age of artist was dedicated to people who were willing to take risks in their art and truly express themselves, rather than to express only things that supported the political movement.
While looking at art of the 1980s we see a trend in use of the shape of Cuba itself as inspiration for art. One piece, Immediately Geographic by artist Florencio Gelabert Soto, is a sculpture in the shape of Cuba, but is broken into many pieces.
A movement that mirrored this artistic piece was underway in which the shape of Cuba became a token in the artwork in a phase known as “tokenization.” This artwork often combined the shape of the island of Cuba with other attributes of the nation, such as the flag. By combining the various symbols of Cuba together the artists were proudly proclaiming ‘this is who we are’.