Day: March 3, 2021

MOCA’S ‘Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art’: Simple materials, exceptional vision

Don’t call these artists naive. It’s a patronizing term smacking of colonial arrogance.

The works in “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art: Selection from the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection” — on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami — offer a stylized portrait of Haiti, primarily in the 1940s and 1950s, by artists working with simple materials and exceptional vision. They depict the hardscrabble Caribbean nation with grace and pride.

However, paintings such as these were once labeled “naive,” says exhibit curator Francine Birbragher. “This was a negative connotation,” she adds, arising from the artists’ lack of formal training and materials.

Yes, the paintings often have the “flat” look common to artists unused to portraying their subjects with three-dimensional perspective. Although some paintings are by artists more skilled than others at depicting subjects realistically, she says, “In general, these artists are all self-taught. They

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