Revolutionary Horizons


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Art and Polemics in 1950s Cuba

Abigail McEwen


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Modernism in Havana reached its climax during the turbulent years of the 1950s as a generation of artists took up abstraction as a means to advance artistic and political goals in the name of Cuba Libre. During a decade of insurrection and, ultimately, revolution, abstract art signaled the country’s cultural worldliness and its purchase within the international avant-garde. This pioneering book offers the first in-depth examination of Cuban art during that time, following the intersecting trajectories of the artist groups Los Once and Los Diez against a dramatic backdrop of modernization and armed rebellion. Abigail McEwen explores the activities of a constellation of artists and writers invested in the ideological promises of abstraction, and reflects on art’s capacity to effect radical social change. Featuring previously unpublished artworks, new archival research, and extensive primary sources, this remarkable volume excavates a rich cultural history with links to the development of abstraction in Europe and the Americas.

Abigail McEwen is associate professor of Latin American art history at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Revolutionary Horizons far outdistances any other treatment of modern Cuban art and is certain to remain the standard reference for a long time.”—Leonard Folgarait, Vanderbilt University

Revolutionary Horizons breaks new ground not only in introducing a topic that had not been addressed comprehensively before, but also in doing so with an attention to detail and academic rigor unprecedented in studies of Cuban art. Abigail McEwen should be commended for her meticulous research, polished prose, and clear commitment to the critical study of Latin American art.”—Tatiana Flores, author of Mexico’s Revolutionary Avant-Gardes: From Estridentismo to ¡30-30!

"Abigail McEwen illuminates a period in Cuban art and culture that has not been treated in depth or with intellectual rigor until now. Her prose is clear, her analysis rich and complex, and her respect for the inherent qualities of the works of art, in and of themselves, is refreshing. Revolutionary Horizons is the kind of art history that Cuban culture needs. It is a model to be emulated."—Alejandro Anreus, William Paterson University

“McEwen’s study serves as an important counterpoint to the dominance of geometric abstraction in recent scholarship on Latin American modernism, perhaps paving the way for a renewed attention to gestural abstraction in the region.”—Megan Sullivan,

“Informative, well-researched, clearly written, and handsomely printed . . . [Revolutionary Horizons] offers a much needed reassessment of Cuban abstraction . . . [and] a rich, textured reconstruction of the cultural life of Havana during the 1950s.”—Alejandro de la Fuente, New West Indian Guide
ISBN: 9780300216813
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
272 pages, 8 x 10
68 color + 61 b/w illus.
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