A recognizably Cuban literature first began to emerge after the end of the 18th century. In the early 19th century several writers gained prominence espousing intellectualism and the concept of freedom. These ideas gained perhaps their greatest intensity in the writings of José Martí, a Cuban of modest Spanish background who led the Modernist movement inCuban literature. He inspired an entire school of writing devoted to winning freedom from Spain.
Writers whose works reflected social protest in the pre-Castro period include Nicolás Guillén, a leader in founding the Afro-Cuban school of literature, and Jose Z. Tallet, both activist poets. In the 20th century short stories became the predominant prose form, but exceptional novels were also produced, such as Alejo Carpentier’s ¡Ecué-Yamba-Ó! (1933; “Lord, May You Be Praised!”), which is a tribute to Afro-Cuban life and culture, and El siglo de las luces (1962; Explosion in a Cathedral, 1963), which portrays the violence and chaos wrought on the Caribbean during the French Revolution.
The works of the poet, novelist, and essayist José Lezama Lima have also been influential. In addition, the works of the American writer Ernest Hemingway are deeply admired on the island, which was his home for many years and the setting for The Old Man and the Sea (1952) and Islands in the Stream (1970). Cuban writers such as Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabera Infante, Leonardo Padura Fuentes, and Ronaldo Menedez have earned international attention in the postrevolutionary era; however, many such writers have been exiled after falling afoul of government censors. By the early 21st century, Cuban writers had published large numbers of major novels and literary magazines.
Cuba has galleries, art museums, and community cultural centres that regularly display the works of Cuban painters.
The most important (all in Havana) are the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Haydée Santamaría Gallery of the House of the Americas, the Gallery of Havana, and the Fortress Castle. There Cuba’s foremost contemporary artists—Wifredo Lam, René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, Servando Cabrera Moreno, Raúl Martínez—share space with younger artists. The Ministry of Culture provides most of the materials needed by artists and also guarantees jobs to graduates of the Higher Institute of Art. Painters in Cuba tend to work in many genres: they design fabrics (called by the trade name Telarte), sets for movies and theatre, and posters for films, books, cultural events, and community campaigns. Posters are one of Cuba’s best-known cultural exports. The Ministry of Culture promotes numerous art exchanges and sends exhibits of Cuban art throughout the world. The government works to promote art from the countries of the developing world, primarily through the Havana Biennial, which started in 1984. "Cuba" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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