Wifredo Lam (Cuban 1902-1982)

Item Code: P108
Untitled, colour lithograph
  • c.1970s

Wifredo Lam (Cuban 1902 - 1982)

[Untitled], colour lithograph on wove paper, signed and numbered 24 of the edition of 99 (Catalogue raisonne: Tonneau-Ryckelynck no.7419 dated 1974).

Wifredo Lam’s works have a rich vocabulary of symbolism which comes from his mixed heritage: Chinese, African, Indian and Spanish descent and with that, an inherited rich background of religious tradition – including Confucius, Catholicism and Santeria.  Lam studied at the Academy San Alejandro in Havana from 1920-1923 and afterwards went to Madrid to study at the San Fernando Academy. He travelled widely throughout his life and was exposed to:  the influence of many artists - including Matisse, Joan Miro, Fernand Leger, Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso; to the art movements of cubism in Spain and surrealism in France and was greatly inspired by the African sculpture of the Pacific Islands.  It is the sum of all these influences in the images that make up his paintings: Lam combined the radical modern styles of surrealism and cubism with the iconography and spirituality of African and Cuban mythology to create his own unique body of work.  From the 1950s through to the end of his life Wilfredo Lam developed and perfected his printmaking techniques.

This lithograph contains the familiar stylistic characteristics and symbols that Lam was using at the time: la femme cheval with braided hair flowing down her back and the round-faced girl.  La femme cheval contains imagery of Santeria religious rights, where an orisha, here the horse deity, interacts with the world and humankind and possess the body of a believer during ritual ceremonies and transforms them into a hybrid being that is part human and part horse as they communicate with the natural world.  Looking at this image, one first might see the strong linear black outline reminiscent of Matisse, Miro and Leger, and then Cubist elements of form derived from African sculpture reminiscent of Picasso but then beyond that one see that Lam gives these outlined forms meaning, bringing to life on paper the myth that they represent.


Sheet size: Height: 78.5cm Width: 60cm
Framed size: Height: 99cm Width: 81cm 


Wifredo Lam (Cuban 1902-1982) Wifredo Lam (Cuban 1902-1982) Wifredo Lam (Cuban 1902-1982) Wifredo Lam (Cuban 1902-1982)
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