California Literary Review

Photographs from Havana Deco


December 18th, 2007 at 12:44 pm

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Decorative panel: Cine City Hall

Havana Deco
by Martino Fagiuoli (photographer), Alejandro G. Alonso and Pedro Contreras
W. W. Norton, 192 pp.

Cover page of Social by López Méndez

The magazine Social—and the large Grupo de Minoristas who were its friends, and, more importantly, its contributors—holds a distinguished place in any analysis of the role of publications in the spread of the new modes of expression. These contributors collaborated in the task of elevating a bourgeoisie intent on demonstrating its business prowess.

A case in point is that of Alejo Carpentier, one of the most highly regarded twentieth-century Spanish-language novelists. Carpentier, also a musicologist and essayist, sent writings from Paris that covered nearly all areas of culture, from the music of Stravinsky to the paintings of Picasso. To this he added critical comments on Parisian fashions (accepted as an artistic discipline), which he authored under the pseudonym Jacqueline. All this was transmitted through the pages of Social, founded and headed by a Minorista, Conrado Walter Massaguer. Fundamental aspects of this period, whether automation, feminism or the definition of a national identity achieved by way of its racial roots, were seen through the somewhat mundane lens of this periodical. Nonetheless, these issues appeared alongside depictions of a costume ball with a historical theme or the wedding of a tycoon’s daughter. Within its pages also appeared the splendid home built by Catalina Lasa, who would become a legend for reasons other than her patronage of the most highly noted Deco interiors at the early date—for Cuba—of 1927.

-From the Introduction to Havana Deco

Edificio Emilio Bacardi

Lounge area of the women’s restroom in the Cine-Teatro América

Vestibule of the Edificio López Serrano

Mahogany bar from La Lluvia de Oro, Calle Obispo in Old Havana

Stairway in the Colegio Nacional de Arquitectos

Teatro Lutgardita

Reprinted from HAVANA DECO by Alejandro G. Alonso, Pedro Contreras, and Martino Fagiuoli, W.W. Norton & Company, $39.95. Copyright (c) 2007 by CV Export S.a.s., Divisione libri. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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