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Amelia Peláez

Cuban  •  1896-1968

Biography

Amelia Peláez, one of the most prominent Cuban avant-garde artists, studied at the Academia de San Alejandro in Havana. She was part of the first wave of Cuban artists living in Europe before World War II. In Paris, she witnessed the development of Cubism as well as other European art movements that would later inform her complex personal aesthetic of simplified forms and bold colors.

With the decline of the sugar boom, Peláez returned to Cuba and laid the foundation for Cuban modernism by introducing artistic innovations. Her mature works are composed of brightly hued, quasi-abstract compositions that often depict unique domestic and architectural settings. Peláez was undeniably inspired by her surroundings in Cuba, where she continued to live until her death.

Insights

  • Though Peláez started studying at a rather late age, she was among Leopoldo Romañach's favorite students. Shortly after graduating, she exhibited along established Cuban painters and at the Association of Painters and Sculptors in Havana.

  • Peláez also dedicated a lot of time to murals in different schools in Cuba. The most famous one is in the façade of the Habana Hilton Hotel.

  • Peláez participated in the renowned 1943 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. One of her works, Las Hermanas, was printed in the museum postcards to advertise the show.

"I am not interested in copying the object...What matters is the relation of the motif with oneself...and the power the artist has to organize their emotions."

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