A new Getty Center exhibit features never-before-seen photos of 1933 Cuba shot by American photographer Walker Evans juxtaposed with some famous photos from Cuba’s revolutionary period.
“A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now” runs through Oct. 2 and looks at three critical periods in the island nation’s history as witnessed by photographers before, during and after the country’s 1959 revolution.
“The museum’s collection of Walker Evans prints is the largest in the U.S., but until now we have not shown his photographs of Cuba,” Judith Keller, senior curator of photographs, said in a statement. “This exhibition allows us the opportunity to showcase this body of work alongside newer work in the collection.”
Evans traveled to Cuba in spring 1933 to take photos for the book The Crime of Cuba by Carleton Beals. Leaving the country less than two months before President Gerardo Machado was forced out of office, Evans had the opportunity to photograph Cuba at the inception of the revolutionary movement, though nearly 30 years would pass before the start of the 1959 revolution.
The second section of “A Revolutionary Project” puts Evans’ 1933 images alongside photos from photographers who documented Cuba during the 1959 revolution.
Included in this portion of the exhibit is the iconic image of revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevara by Alberto Korda, titled “Guerrillero Heroico.” One of the world’s most reproduced images, it has become a favorite symbol of political causes of all stripes appearing on countless numbers of T-shirts, banners and street art around the globe.
Also on display in this section is the well-known revolutionary photograph “Patria o Muerte, Cuba” by Osvaldo Salas, one of Cuba’s most important photographers. Salas effectively captures and conveys the populist fervor in Cuba shortly after the movement’s triumph with an image of a patriotic sign framed by a celebratory crowd.
The final section of the exhibit looks specifically at the work of three contemporary photographers who documented Cuba after the withdrawal of Soviet support in September 1991 and through the country's subsequent economic collapse. Cuba suffered from domestic turmoil marked by food shortages and a decline in public services.
The three photographers featured in this section are Americans Virginia Beahan and Alex Haris and Russian Alexey Titarenko.
The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Dr. For information about “A Revolutionary Project,” call the Getty Center at 310-440-7305.