Haiti Takes the Art World by Storm


Do an Internet search for “Haitian  art ” and…depending on your level of familiarity with the  art  world…you may be surprised, awestruck, blown away, or simply enchanted by what you find. These big, bright images, though they may be classified as “folk  art ,” are sometimes reminiscent of Picasso, Rivera, Matisse, Cézanne, or even Van Gogh.

Haitian  art  is big. And not just big in size (yes, some of these pieces are several feet in each direction), but big in popularity. And…be prepared, sometimes these masterpieces have big price tags too.

Folk  art  has a long tradition in Haiti. A former slave named Luc, of Leogane, earned a reputation as a painter during French Colonial times. Presidents Henri Christophe and Alexandre Pétion were both patrons of the  arts ; in the 1840s, Emperor Soulouque founded the Imperial Academy of the  Arts .

American schoolteacher DeWitt Peters, arriving in Haiti in the 1940s, was impressed by the raw artistic talent he saw in many untrained and often uneducated painters, workers of all trades who would go home from their day jobs and produce these marvelous works of  art . So in 1944, he founded Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince and became an advocate of Haitian  art –a style known as folk, naïve, or intuitive  art , characterized by vivid colors, proportions that don’t follow the rules, and freedom of expression. Peters and his school brought Haitian folk  art  to the attention of the Western world, and it soon achieved worldwide fame.

The Haitian folk  art  movement has been controversial because the label of “authenticity” was placed on it to the exclusion of others style of  art . Some ask, Who gave Western  art  critics the right to decide what represents true Haitian  art ? Haitian painters to this day struggle with this preconceived notion of what Haitian  art  “should” be.

Collectors value highly the works of the masters of this style, and Haitian  art  is some of the most appreciated  art  in the world.

Unfortunately, traveling to Haiti oneself is a tricky thing for an  art  lover, collector, or dealer to do. Fortunately, a large and growing number of websites offer Haitian  art  for sale. Take an artistic journey…search “Haitian  art ” and take a look.

Source by Lisa J. Lehr

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