The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is proud to announce that Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films, the Museum’s 2017 exhibition, has been selected as a partner in the Getty-led initiative, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Co-organized by the PMCA in partnership with the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), Hollywood in Havana assembles Cuban posters advertising Hollywood films as well as promoting Cuban films about the U.S. from the 1960s to 2012. With astonishing design, stylistic diversity, and artistic skill, these posters helped create visual literacy among the Cuban population in the decades following the Cuban revolution.
On view August 20, 2017-January 7, 2018, Hollywood in Havana is curated by Carol A. Wells, CSPG’s founder and Executive Director, and includes a selection of approximately 40 screenprints from their permanent collection. Produced by the Instituto Cubano del Arte Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC) or the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, the posters were part of the Cuban government’s initiative to develop cultural awareness in the public after the revolutionary triumph that overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgenico Batista in 1959.
Poster designers working during the early years of the Revolution had few material resources and operated in an almost artisanal manner, using the silkscreen technique. While the limited resources imposed by the embargo inspired many of the design decisions, revolutionary ideals can also be cited as source material. Posters created for Cuban audiences to promote iconic U.S. films, such as Modern Times, Singin’ in the Rain, Cabaret, Schindler’s List, and Silence of the Lambs, are in striking contrast to the vast majority of Hollywood film posters, which formulaically feature faces of the movies’ stars. ICAIC posters employ creativity and free expression as well as a variety of art styles, including Art Nouveau, Abstract, Pop, and Op. Prized throughout the world for their beauty and uniqueness, the screenprints demonstrate how design and visual imagery in film posters enable them to endure as works of art, independent of the films they represent.
During a time when momentous changes are underway for Cuban-American relations, Hollywood in Havana contributes to the dialogue between the two countries. The exhibition also enables the PMCA and CSPG to contribute to Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’s efforts to survey the connections between Los Angeles and Latin America and the vital and vibrant traditions that shape the city. By presenting Cuban film art to regional publics in the film capital of the world, the exhibition encourages viewers to consider the power of film posters. The exhibition showcases how art, entertainment, and politics intersect to influence and reflect daily life.
Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films is co-organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art in partnership with the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) and is curated by CSPG Executive Director Carol Wells. The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.