Cuba is one such country that has seen its fair share of cultural shifts and aggressive new world adaptation. Cuba was fist colonized by the Spanish around 1492 and over the course of the islands history it has seen and 10 year war, a liberation from Spanish Colonial rule and rise and fall of foreign ties with America. Part of this revolution however saw the birth and rise of two major icons in Cuban history, namely and Latin American avant garde movement and Amelia Pelaez. It is by observing these two icons that one will start to understand more definitively what kind of effect classical European art may have had on the development of various avant garde artist within Cuba and the wider Latin American community (Lucie-Smith, 1994).
Amelia Pelaez was born in 1896, in Yaguajay Cuba and started her formal visual arts training at a much older age than normal. This late start however did not hinder her development as well as abilities, as she quickly became a favored student of renowned Cuban painter Leopoldo Romanach. She was then later transferred to Europe; more specifically Paris to attend the Academie De La Grande Chaumiere, where she studied drawing, museum studies, and colour theory with Russian Artist Alexandra Exter. After this stint she returned to Cuba to continue a career in painting and muralism, and eventually died in 1968. Paying close attention to her biography I started to become very interested in a few key occurrences, namely, that she left home to study in Paris. This, though being common at that time, did strike me as interesting judging by the type of work she went on to produce at a later date. When she left Cuba for Paris in the 1930's the country was still a further 20 years away form the famous Cuban revolution. This meant that artist did have some freedom to move around within the Caribbean and across the waters with suitable government grants. This was most definitely the case for Miss Pelaez. When she arrived in Paris she immediately took classes at the De La Grande Chaumiere, which to date is known as an art independent school due to its liberal expressive nature. She then went into studying various museums within the country. Much like Diego Rivera a Mexican painter who also left Mexico to study in Europe, she would undoubtedly have been influenced by European aesthetics and techniques. Referring back to Diego we see a scenario where an artist left his home country and became so influenced that when he returned home he was viewed as being too European. In fact, he was sent on various trips around South America to rediscover himself. At a glancing blow and paying close attention to her artwork one may start to think this is much of the same in the case of Miss Pelaez. In the text Latin American Art by Edward Lucie-Smith it states, "her most typical paintings make use of very Cuban motifs. They show abstract still life's, generally of fruit, against brilliantly coloured backgrounds derived from the stained glass windows and transoms often found in the old fashioned houses in Cuba. This statement then becomes even more curious and somewhat outlines the main idea of social framework hegemony. This shows undoubtedly that the prevalent individuals within the society integrated their aesthetics into what is now the normal culture. This then may beg the question, did the Fusion of Cuban and Classical European aesthetics as well as her stint in Paris have and adverse and/or subliminal effect on her artwork?