Haitian Art receiving Global Recognition in the New Millennium

Haitian art was originally rooted in African and Taino art forms, then became influenced by the artistic expressions of France and Spain. The subject matter of Haitian art has tended to focus on the island's history, its socioeconomic and political conflicts, family life, religion, and culture.


Haitian schools of art, with their particular qualities or styles of expression, are localized. Southern coastal Jacmel artists use mountains and shorelines for inspiration; northern coastal Cap-Haitien artists render urban life; Saint-Soleil artists' work embodies abstract art, using Voodoo motifs. And Artibonite region painters utilize muted tones and geometric shapes.

Throughout the early- to late-1800s Haiti's rulers supported artists by creating opportunities for them to develop their artistic expression. King Christophe, Emperor Soulouque, and President Geffrard all promoted artists or founded schools for them. In 1840 the Imperial Academy of Drawing and Painting was introduced, and in the 1860s there existed the Academy of Art.

The most important proponent of modern Haitian art came to Haiti in 1943, American artist Dewitt Peters. He saw the need for more attention and dedication to Haitian art, founding the Art Center in 1944. Thus began the rise of modern Haitian art. French surrealists became interested, the art world began recognizing the contributions of Haitian artists, and Haitian painter Antonio Joseph won a Guggenheim award.

Haitian art has gained international acceptance, and its artists encouraged to reach new heights of artistic excellence through seeking answers to their personal quests.

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