03 June 2015

Cuba: the postmodern National Art Schools?

Something I read described the National Art Schools, built in the early 1960s to designs by Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garratti, and Roberto Gottardi, as postmodern. It seems to me that they are a continuation of Le Corbusier's brick and concrete houses with a good dose of expressionism as practiced by Eric Mendelssohn, which is not to say merely derivative. For me, postmodernism involves a conscious use of historical motifs. Seeing the schools was a major inspiration for my desire to visit Cuba and they did not disappoint. It was wonderful to be able to meander all about the halls and classrooms of the School of Plastic Arts, to see the rather ordinary mid-century modern of the blue dormitory, and to walk about the ruins of the School of Music, to say nothing of seeing the opera "Cubanacán" in front of the arched entrance tubes of the School of Plastic Arts.

Much has been written recently about the schools and Revolution of forms: Cuba's forgotten art schools by John Loomis (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999) is probably the starting point.

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