Cuban art is an exceptionally diverse cultural blend of African, South American, European and North American elements, reflecting the diverse demographic makeup of the island. Cuban artists embraced European modernism, and the early part of the 20th century saw a growth in Cuban avant-garde movements, which were characterized by the mixing of modern artistic genres. Some of the more celebrated 20th-century Cuban artists include Amelia Peláez (1896–1968), best known for a series of mural projects, and painter Wifredo Lam(December 8, 1902–September 11, 1982), who created a highly personal version of modern primitivism. The Cuban born painter Federico Beltran Masses (1885–1949), was renowned as a colourist whose seductive portrayals of women sometimes made overt references to the tropical settings of his childhood.
In Centro Habana, a small neighborhood of artists have transformed the walls around them. October 2002
Better known internationally is the work of photographer Alberto Korda, whose photographs following the early days of the Cuban Revolutionincluded a picture of Che Guevara which was to become one of the most recognizable images of the 20th century.
After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, some artists felt it was in their best interests to leave Cuba and produce their art, while others stayed behind, either happy or merely content to be creating art in Cuba, which was sponsored by the government. Because it was state sponsored, an implied censorship occurred, since artists wouldn't want to make art that was against the revolutionary movement as that was the source of their funding. It was during the 1980s in which art began to reflect true uninfluenced expression. The "rebirth" of expression in Cuban art was greatly affected by the emergence of a new generation of Cuban, which did not remember the revolution directly.
In 1981 Cubans saw the introduction of "Volumen Uno", a series of one man exhibitions featuring contemporary Cuban artists. Three years later, the introduction of the "Havana Bienal" assisted in the further progression of the liberation of art and free speech therein.