Artist: Wifredo Lam
Wifredo Óscar de la Concepción Lam y Castilla (Sagua La Grande, December 8, 1902 - Paris, September 11, 1982) was a Cuban avant-garde painter. Wifredo Lam was the son of a Chinese father and a mother with an African, Indian and European mixture. In 1916 his family moved to Havana, where he studied at the School of Fine Arts. At the beginning of the 1920s, he held a first exhibition of his initial works in the Hall of the Association of Painters and Sculptors in Havana. In 1923, Lam moved to Madrid, where he studied in the workshop of Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor, director of the Prado Museum and recognized for having been Salvador Dalí's teacher. In the early 1930s, the surrealist influence was evident in the works of Lam as well as that of Henri Matisse, as well as possibly Joaquín Torres-García. In 1936, when visiting a Pablo Picasso exhibition, he felt strongly drawn to him both artistically and politically. In 1938, he went to live in Paris, where Picasso himself took him under his wing and nurtured his interest in African art and primitivist masks. In that same year, he traveled to Mexico where he stayed with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Lam's varied multicultural heritage, as well as its relationship with Santeria, is widely manifested in the artist's work. During World War II, Lam lived most of the time in the Caribbean, along with Claude Lévi-Strauss, André Masson, and André Breton, whose poem Fata Morgana, Lam illustrated in 1940. In 1941, he returned to Havana where was strongly influenced by the theories of Carl Jung. At the end of 1942, he began his important work "La Jungla" (1943). Lam developed his own style in which he combined surrealism and cubism with the spirit and forms of the Caribbean. Between 1942 and 1950 he held regular exhibitions at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. His second marriage, in 1944 to Helena Holzer, ended in divorce in 1950. In 1946, after a four-month stay in Haiti, Lam returned to France via New York. In 1948 he met Asger Jorn, with whom he became friends for many years. He traveled extensively until 1952, when he spent three years in Paris. In 1955 he resumed travel, and in 1960 he settled in Albisola Mare, on the Italian coast. The winter of that year he married the Swedish painter Lou Laurin, with whom he had three children. In 1964 he received the Guggenheim International Award, and in 1966 and 1967 numerous retrospectives of his work were held at the Kunsthalle in Basel, the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He received numerous awards and recognitions. His works are in the main museums of the world. Lam's works have been auctioned in all world-renowned Latin American art auctions, also reaching the highest prices (for example, $ 1,267,500 for "Green Morning", oil / paper, 1943; Sotheby's. Latin American Art. Sale # NY7140, May 27, 1998: lot 12). Lam died in Paris on September 11, 1982. He is buried in his hometown.