Art in Havana is abundant. The art galleries in Havana offer much to appreciate. A lot of which is specific to Latin America. But Havana is also home to a burgeoning art scene, with many artists living, creating, and impressing in the city.
The traditional art scene in Paris or Rome arguably approaches art from a historical context. The majority of popular works on display are universally renowned, but are from centuries past.
Art in Havana is abundant, whether on an art gallery wall or painted on a wall. So how can you tour Havana and see the best art in the Cuban capital?
The National Museum of Fine Arts
The very term “fine art” is open to interpretation. Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana has a well curated art collection.
Without doubt, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana has the best collection of Cuban art in Havana.
With pieces from the 17th century to contemporary times in Cuba. Their Hyperrealism collection (mostly from the 1970s) is truly remarkable.
Fusterlandia – Outdoor Art in Havana
Also from the 1970s, any exploration of art in Havana requires a visit to Fusterlandia. The home of Cuban artist Jose Fuster is an ever evolving artwork. Located on the outskirts of Havana in the neighbourhood of Jaimanitas. After moving to the area in 1975, Fuster began by making his residence into a Cuban Sagrada Familia!
He then began to transform other buildings in the area using the same style (with the owners’ permission naturally). Now entire streets have been made over with his weirdly eclectic style. It’s a short taxi ride from the centre of Havana, but also many tours will take you to Fusterlandia.
Photos of Havana – Fototeca de Cuba
To truly appreciate the art of the photograph, head to Fototeca de Cuba. This facility houses some truly amazing work by a variety of Cuban photographers. There are two galleries, with an ever changing schedule of exhibitions.
Admire and Buy
If you like to combine art appreciation with some retail therapy, make your way to Havana’s biggest art market, located in the Almacenes San Jose. A cavernous former shipping warehouse by the port in Havana Vieja is where many local artists sell their art.
It’s really like a flea market, and while art is the focus, you’ll also find handicrafts and general souvenirs on sale. You can easily pick up an original work for a good price, but you will also have to find some way to transport it back home!
A Personal Experience
Art in Havana is a way of life, and nowhere is this more evident than Estudio Taller Santacana. The work on display is by the artist Beatriz Santacana, and tours of the gallery and workroom are well worth your time.
Some of the sculptures are wonderfully ethereal and are a wonderful contrast to the more standard works on offer at Almacenes San Jose. If she’s available, Beatriz Santacana might even come out and say hello.
A Female Point of View: Daymi Ticet Gallery
Another gallery where you might actually meet the artist is the Daymi Ticet Gallery in Havana’s Old Town. She paints in a style that is reminiscent of Picasso and yet is still undeniably her own. A lot of her work depicts the role of the Cuban woman in society. It’s one of the smaller galleries in the city, but when it comes to art in Havana, this space is truly special.
A Whole Street of Art: Callejon de Hamel
For families or those with limited time to explore Havana’s art scene, one destination stands out: Callejon de Hamel in Central Havana. It exudes the vibe of an artist’s commune, where numerous local artists have established their studios, and in some cases, even their homes.
Their creativity spills out onto the streets, adorning the area with vivid, dynamic murals in every direction. While Havana itself is known for its vibrant hues, Callejon de Hamel offers an exhilarating sensory experience. Children will love the street art and the whimsical sculptures all over the place here.
Though this place has gained popularity and attracts tourists, don’t be discouraged. Even in its busiest moments, Callejon de Hamel maintains its laid-back nature.
The liveliest time is Sunday around noon when a rumba band entertains the appreciative audience. Art and music converge in the heart of Havana—a truly delightful experience.
Havana’s Independent Alternative Art Scene
is a space for contemporary jewelry design and conceptual artworks.
It’s located in the heart of Old Havana. A list of other galleries here.