Opening Reception: Thursday, March 14 from 6pm to 8pm
Jose Ygnacio Bermúdez
Enrique Gay García
Eduardo del Valle
The Organization of American States (OAS) AMA | Art Museum of the Americas and the CINTAS Foundation proudly present A Gaze through the CINTAS Fellowship Program: a Selection of Works from the CINTAS Foundation and the Art Museum of the Americas Collections. This exhibition illustrates the fruitful efforts of the CINTAS Foundation in promoting the arts of Cubans and descendants of Cubans beyond the island, for more than 55 years, juxtaposing works from the Foundation with those of the Art Museum of the Americas collection, through works of artists of the Cuban vanguard such as Hugo Consuegra and Mario Carreño, as well as artists who emerged from the later 20th century such as Andrés Serrano and Ana Mendieta.
The Cuban Arts Foundation—later the CINTAS Foundation—was founded in 1957 by the Cuban philanthropist, diplomat, art collector, businessman, and bibliophile Oscar Cintas (1887-1957), just prior to his death. In 1963, the CINTAS fellowship program began in New York City, executed by the Institute of International Education, which after World War II was devoted to promoting exchanges between the United States and the world, managing programs including the Fulbright. Luis Lastra, former staff member of the Visual Arts Unit of the Pan American Union, explains that the Institute of International Education was in charge of setting guidelines for participation in the fellowship program. Fellowships are granted in four disciplines: visual arts, creative writing, music composition and architecture and design.
When the CINTAS Foundation was created, the New York Times published an article that cited the foundation as existing to “encourage art within Cuba, and art created by persons of Cuban citizenship or lineage outside of the country.” However, due to the political issues caused by the Cuban revolution, such as the breaking down of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the United States-based foundation opened the program for artists living outside of the island. Beginning with the 2017-2018 competition, the fellowship was opened to artists living in Cuba. In the words of CINTAS co-President Rafael Miyar, “The Cintas Foundation board is committed to promoting the career and ongoing artistic achievements of the CINTAS fellows and is delighted to have partnered with the AMA to showcase at the museum through this wonderful exhibit 25 of its fellowship recipients.”
The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas has a long-running relationship with CINTAS. Not only does AMA’s collection hold works of artists who are former fellows of the CINTAS program, but AMA’s founding director, the Cuban art critic José Gómez Sicre promoted the program in various OAS publications, such as Americas magazine and the Visual Arts Bulletin, but also through writing letters of recommendation for applicants to the fellowship, such as Roberto Estupiñan. The OAS also helped to promote the program by distributing applications among various artists linked to the institution.
Oscar B. Cintas was born in Sagua la Grande, and went on to become a prominent sugar and railroad magnate, as well as serving as the Cuban Ambassador to the United States from 1932 to 1934. Obsessed with United States history, particularly Abraham Lincoln, Cintas’s collection held not only several portraits of the legendary President, but an original draft of the Gettysburg Address. Educated in London, Cintas also served as director of the Cuban Railroad Company’s sugar mills (in Punta Alegre, Jatibonico, and Jobabo), president of Railroad Equipment (Brazil, Argentina), director of the American Car and Foundry and the American Locomotive Sales Corporation, and also had business interests in Europe.
This exhibition celebrates the visual arts legacy of Oscar B. Cintas, while illustrating parallels as well as contrasts with the collecting habits of the OAS AMA and its founding director José Gómez Sicre. The exhibition does not follow any chronological order; instead, it shows an array of media—photography, painting, mixed-media, printmaking, and sculpture—addressing issues of belonging, mortality, and exile, through forms ranging from realism to abstraction, conceptual art to surrealism.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the FAMA | Friends of the Art Museum of the Americas and the Cintas Foundation Inc.
The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas is located at 201 18th Street NW.