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Tue, 12.02.1902

Wilfredo Lam, Afro-Cuban art extraordinaire

Wilfredo Lam

*Wilfredo Lam was born on this date in 1902. He was an Afro Cuban artist.

Born (Wifredo Yscar de la Concepayn Lam y Castilla) Lam was from Sagua La Grande, a small town in Cuba. His father was Chinese and his mother was African, Spanish and Native-Cuban. Young Lam had artistic talent as a young man; he went to Havana to study law, and also learned painting at the Academy of San Alejandro. In 1923, he traveled to Madrid to further his artist studies. During that time (1929) he married Eva Piriz but both she and their young son died in 1931 of Tuberculosis.

Lam lived in Madrid during the Spanish civil war in which he sided with the Republic. In 1937, he traveled to Paris and became close friends with Pablo Picasso. It was through Picasso that he met many of the leading artists in Paris at the time. With the threat of German invasion in World War II, he left Paris in 1940 and went to Marseille. There, through Varian Fry he became friends with André Breton and formed close ties with the Surrealist movement.

In 1941, he returned to Cuba and stayed there until 1946. During this time (1944) he married Helena Holzer; they were divorced in 1950. In 1960, he married Lou Laurin with whom he had three children. His masterpiece is considered to be "La Jungla" ("The Jungle", 1943). He was predominantly a painter but he also worked with sculpture and ceramics. Wilfredo Lam died in Paris on September 11, 1982.

Reference:
The St. James Guide to Black Artist
Edited by Thomas Riggs
Copyright 1997, St. James Press,
Detroit, MI
ISBN 1-55862-220-9

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