Almost Now: Cuban Art, Cinema, and Politics in the 1960s and 1970s

August 29, 2009 - December 6, 2009

Cuban film poster

Featuring sixteen Cuban cinema posters (and a signed and numbered print of Alberto Korda’s iconic photograph of Che Guevara) recently given to the Ackland by eminent art historian, collector, and Carolina alumnus David Craven, Almost Now: Cuban Art, Cinema, and Politics in the 1960s and 1970s examines the central role that artists, filmmakers, and film audiences have played in Cuban cultural and political discourse since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

During the 1960s and 1970s, both printmaking and filmmaking flourished in Cuba, and the cinema poster became the artistic medium of the moment. Some of the most prominent Cuban artists of this time are represented in Almost Now, including Rene Portocarrero, Raul Martinez, and Alfredo Rostgaard.

The posters seen in Almost Now announce films of varied genre and subject, including feature films, shorts, and documentaries about literary, social, and political topics. For example, Cartas del Parque is an adaptation of stories by author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Hasta la Victoria Siempre honors Che Guevara on the occasion of his death, and Por Primera Vez shows audiences in rural communities watching Charlie Chaplin’s classic film Modern Times for the first time.

Today, these images continue to challenge preconceptions about Cuban identity and culture. Craven, now professor of art history at the University of New Mexico, says they had the same power when he first encountered them in Cuba twenty-five years ago. “I was struck with how the art there contradicted almost everything said about it in the US,” he says.

Image Credit: René Portocarrero, Cuban, 1912 – 1986; Soy Cuba, 1964; color screenprint; Gift of Dr. David L. Craven, 2008.43.6