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THE NATIONAL ART SCHOOLS OF HAVANA, Cuba returns to the Milan Triennale

Ballet School design Vittorio Garatti photo by Lorenzo Carmellini 1961-1964
School of Ballet, project by Vittorio Garatti (photo by Lorenzo Carmellini, 1964)
THE NATIONAL ART SCHOOLS OF HAVANA, Cuba returns to the Milan Triennale it has been modified: 2019-03-06 di Benedict Flowers

After 50 years from the last participation (Triennale XIV-1968) and on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Havana (San Cristóbal de La Habana - 1519), Cuba returns to Triennale di Milano for the XXII International Exhibition, entitled "Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival". 

As part of the exhibition, which questions the role of design in the difficult relationship between man and nature, the Cuban Pavilion offers the extraordinary experience of the National Schools of Art in Havana. It is a complex born from the precise desire of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara that Cuba would offer the teaching of the arts to young Cubans and those from all developing countries. The Schools are unconventional examples of organic architecture that established a relationship of mutual exchange with the tropical nature that surrounds them. Despite the difficulties and the inevitable transformation that the structures have undergone over time, they are still a fertile place and full of stimuli for creativity and the birth of new talents.

To tell the past, present and future of the National Art Schools of Havana, the curator of the Pavilion Jorge FerFernández Torres, in collaboration with a large working group, used unpublished materials made by the students and professors of ISA (Universidad de las Artes) themselves. It is an evocative series of images and videos that go beyond the boundaries of classic historical / architectural iconography, documenting the results of an exemplary and still alive process of integration and cultural contamination from within. 

The interest of the exhibition is also linked to the Italian contribution, both to the birth of the Art Schools and to the ongoing activity for their relaunch. The Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti also worked on the design of the five different buildings - designed and built between 1961 and 1965 - together with the Cuban architect Ricardo Porro.

dividing the projects (School of Plastic Arts and Music to Ricardo Porro, Ballet and Contemporary Dance to Vittorio Garatti and Dramatic Art to Roberto Gottardi). In an atmosphere of total creative freedom, the three young architects designed buildings that embody the essence of “Cubanity”, each keeping a personal mark. Their contribution was decisive for the development of a complex of great charm and originality, but also capable of withstanding the ravages of time, leaving open the prospect of new restoration and completion interventions - only two of the five buildings were completed at the time.

The exhibition at the XXII Triennale di Milano is therefore an opportunity to present two recent Italian projects that deal with the revitalization of the complex of Art Schools, included in the Watch List of the World Monument Fund (2000) and in the World Heritage Tentative List of the UNESCO (2003).  The first has as its object the drafting of a Plan of Conservation and Management of the entire complex. The project is coordinated by the Polytechnic of Milan, with Princeton University, the University of Parma, Assorestauro and the Vittorio Garatti Committee and funded by the Getty Foundation as part of the Keeping it Modern program.

The second, financed by AICS (Italian Agency for Development Cooperation) of MAECI (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) provides for the restoration, structural consolidation and re-functionalization of the Roberto Gottardi Theater School, with the technical consultancy of the DiDA Department of the University of Florence.

The Cuba pavilion at the XXII Triennale di Milano is an expression of the Ministerio de Cultura de Cuba / Consejo Nacional Artes Plásticas through the Commissioner Norma Rodríguez Derivet.

Il curator is Jorge FerFernández Torres Director of the National Museum of Bellas Artes de Cuba e co-curators Christian Zecchin and Umberto Zanetti. The exhibition is sponsored byEmbajada de Cuba in Rome and from Consulado de Cuba en Milán.

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