Cundo Bermúdez - LATIN AMERICA New York Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Dolores Smithies; Private Collection, New Orleans

  • Exhibited

    Miami, Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture Inc., Homenaje a Cundo Bermúdez, May 1 - May 31, 1987.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cundo Bermúdez was one of the last surviving members of the “escuela de La Habana,” a movement of artists who came of age in the 1930s and are considered the second generation of avant-garde painters in Cuba. Their canvases are renowned for their portrayal of everyday scenes and still-lifes, abundant with vivid colors and with an emphasis on voluptuous curvature and a deliberate outlining of form. Bermúdez’ style, despite his nomadic tendencies, was rooted in these elements throughout his career.  The artist was living in Puerto Rico at the time he painted the present lot, Mujer en la playa, 1966, having moved there as the Cuban Revolution was achieving more momentum. Despite his distance from his country, the Cuban palette—comprised of contrasting terracotta reds and vibrant royal blues—is celebrated across the canvas.
    The work portrays an elegant woman in a brightly colored dress standing in the forefront of the scene holding an umbrella. The sky is a deep rich blue, with subtle signs of a rainstorm approaching in the distance. Bermúdez employs the tropical hues to create a flat composition, an aesthetic element reminiscent of the work of the Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, all of whom he had admired on his travels. The table display is tilted forwards so that the viewer can see the bountiful spread. A guitar lies on an uninhabited chair waiting to be picked up to fill the scene with vibrant music. The erect palm trees and paralleled sailboat masts alongside the ripe melon and sweet wine on the table further illustrate the Caribbean flair. All throughout, the paint is applied opaquely and flat, creating a collage effect. This feature reflects the influence Matisse’s work had on the Cuban painter while he traveled throughout Europe.
    Regardless of the artist’s nomadic lifestyle, Bermúdez’ work captured and glorified his Cuban nationalism. The country’s exotic hues, its African roots and Latin musicality pervade his work. Standing in direct opposition to his country's social turmoil, Bermúdez’ Mujer en la playa celebrates life, beauty, and serenity. He combined the many influences from his travels and formed an individual style known as “Puro Cundo”; a technique that matured the modernist brushstrokes of Matisse, Picasso and Dali.



La mujer en la playa

Oil on canvas.
20 1/2 x 17 in. (52.1 x 43.2 cm).
Signed "Cundo Bermúdez" lower right corner.

$80,000 - 120,000 


29 September 2010
New York