Wifredo Lam

Alternative Name(s): Wilfredo Oscar de la Concepcion Lam y Castilla
Date of Birth: December 8, 1902
Place of Birth: Sagua la Granda, Cuba
Date of Death: September 11, 1982
Focus: Painter
Art movement: Surrealism
Nationality: Cuban

Famous Wifredo Lam Artwork

Wifredo Lam Biography

Wilfredo Lam was of mixed ethnicity: His father was Chinese and his mother was Afro-Spanish. His lineage inspired an artistic expression that depicted a fusion of cultures. The colors that he used, and the vegetation that he depicted, are suggestive of Cuba. The masks, jungle themes and angularity of his figures suggest an African influence.

Lam initially studied law, but turned to art. He began his art training at the School of Fine Arts in Havana when he was just 15 years-old, and started to exhibit his work in salons soon after. Lam moved to Madrid in 1923, where he undertook the study of academic painting.

Between 1936 and 1937, Lam fought alongside the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. He fled to Paris in 1938, where he met Pablo Picasso. Through Picasso, Lam was introduced to other influential artists.

Lam experimented with a number of styles as his paintings evolved and as he matured. After meeting Andre Breton, Lam’s work took on a decidedly surrealistic element, and he became a member of the Surrealist Movement. His signature style is described as a fusion of Cubism and Surrealism. The style is best demonstrated in Lam’s 1943 masterpiece, The Jungle.

Lam painted in Cuba, France and Spain. He typically used a combination of oils and chalks on paper as he created his unique imagery. Lam then pasted the paper onto the canvas. He also used gouache, which is akin to watercolor but with an opaque quality.

Wilfredo Lam exhibited his work extensively in many parts of the world, and he was a recipient of the Guggenheim International Award.