Agustín Cárdenas


London, Grosvenor Hill

  • , Un Seul Fil, 1989
    Burnt Wood
    235 x 29 x 29 cm
    92 1/2 x 11 3/8 x 11 3/8 inches
  • , Le Repos de l’Oiseau, 1980
    White marble
    193 x 48 x 40 cm
    76 x 18 7/8 x 15 3/4 inches
  • , La Fiancée du Cheval, 1984
    Bronze
    88 x 33 x 28 cm
    34 5/8 x 13 x 11 inches
    AP 2 of 2 from an edition of 6
  • Mon Ombre après Minuit
  • , La Femme au Chewing Gum, 1950
    Bronze
    38 x 12 x 11 cm
    15 x 4 3/4 x 4 3/8 inches
    Edition 5 of 6
  • Forme Allongée
  • , La Negra, 1947
    Bronze
    19 x 19 x 12 cm
    7 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches
    Edition 4 of 6
  • , Le Petit Cheval, 1984
    Bronze
    32 x 47 x 16 cm
    AP 2 of 2 from an edition of 6
  • Le Repos
  • , Geod, 1977
    Ebony
    55 x 19,5 x 14 cm
    21 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 5 1/2 inches
  • , Cuarto Famba, 1973
    Burnt Wood
    123 x 35 x 35 cm
    48 3/8 x 13 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches
  • , Untitled, 1965
    Ink on cardboard
    63 x 44 x 4 cm (framed)
    24 3/4 x 17 3/8 x 1 5/8 inches (framed)

Press release

1955 saw France enter a new age. The SNCF set a new world record for electric train speed (331km/h) and the Citroën DS was launched at the Paris motor show. That year marked the end of the allied occupation of West Germany and the restoration of Austrian sovereignty. In the arts, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita was published in Paris by the Olympia Press and Notre Dame du Haut, a masterpiece of Le Corbusier’s late style, was dedicated in Ronchamp. And, towards the year’s end, the twenty-eight-year-old Cuban sculptor Agustín Cárdenas arrived in France on a scholarship, settling in Montparnasse, which had made itself the headquarters of the artistic avant-garde during the 1920s and 30s.

Cárdenas was born in 1927 in the port town of Mantanzas, on Cuba’s northern shoreline. During the early nineteenth century, the region had been a major centre for the sugar industry and consequently a significant destination for African slaves: by the middle of the nineteenth century slaves constituted more than 60 percent of the population. As a result of this process of forced migration, Mantanzas went on to emerge as a centre of Afro–Cuban culture (dance music such as the rumba, for example, which fuses African and Spanish influences, is generally said to have originated from the region). Cárdenas traces his own ancestry to slaves from Senegal and the Congo. The son of a renowned tailor, he studied art at Havana’s Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro, the oldest fine-art school in Latin America (founded in 1818 by the French painter Jean-Baptiste Vermay). Having enrolled at the age of sixteen, he studied under the celebrated Cuban sculptor Juan José Sicre, who, having trained in Madrid, had done much to bring the European modern style to Cuba, and graduated in 1949. In 1955 Cárdenas had a solo exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Havana, before departing for France at Christmas, a little short of one year before the exiled Fidel Castro returned to Cuba to begin the final phase of his revolution against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista