Victor Manuel

García Valdez, Víctor Manuel (October 31, 1897 – February 2, 1969) His vocation for painting manifested itself very early; He thus enrolled in 1910 at the San Alejandro Academy where he was a disciple of Leopoldo Romañach, and a year later he was appointed professor of drawing.

In 1925, concerns about changing the system of artistic expression in Cuba pushed him to travel to Europe for the first time. He began to sign Victor Emmanuel during his stay in Paris, where he learned about the works of the Italian primitives and also those made by impressionists and post-impressionists. His early paintings demonstrate a tendency to mix the European school with a primitive style. In the 1940s and 1950s, he adopted a more stylized look that became distinctive of his work. During the last years of his life, his style became almost abstract, and his portraits were almost cubist.

He returns to Cuba. In February 1927, he organized a personal exhibition at the Association of Painters and Sculptors, which surprised with the relative modernity of his conception. In May 1927 he joined the list of those exhibiting at the New Art Exhibition. Víctor Manuel becomes a very prominent figure in the movement. He traveled to Europe again in 1929, touring Spain and Belgium; He resides in France. In Paris he painted his oil painting The Tropical Gypsy, an example of the new language. Víctor Manuel was one of the initiators of modern painting in Cuba. From his first trip to Paris (1927) and his contact with Post-Impressionism, he transformed his style, which began in 1929 when he painted in Paris his The Tropical Gypsy, which would become a symbol of all art. of the. He said that mulattas looked like gypsies. The undisputed leadership of this revolt against academicism belongs to Víctor Manuel, and along with him, Carlos Enríquez, Eduardo Abela and Fidelio Ponce, all representative figures of what was known as the first avant-garde of Cuban plastic art.


1924: First personal exhibition at the San Rafael Gallery, Havana.

1924: “New Art Exhibition”, in Havana.

1924: Which marks the beginning of modern painting in Cuba. From this moment he stands out as one of the main innovators of Cuban art, not only for his work but for his tireless teaching among young people.

1929: Second trip to Europe. He tours Spain and Belgium, resides in France. In Paris he painted “Tropical Gypsy”, which would become a symbol of all his painting. He returns to Cuba. He already has his own and unmistakable style expressed through two themes that he will not abandon: female heads and Cuban landscapes.

1931: “Víctor Manuel Exhibition”, Lyceum, Havana.

1934: “XVII Hall of Fine Arts”, Havana.

1935: “National Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture”, Secretary of Education, Directorate of Culture, Havana (award for Figures and Landscape).

1937: The Experimental Study of the Libres Studio for Painters and Sculptors, Havana, is created at the initiative of Víctor Manuel, Eduardo Abela and José María Chacon y Calvo, under the sponsorship of the Directorate of Culture of the Ministry of Education. “First Exhibition of Modern Art, Painting and Sculpture”, Halls of the Dependientes center, Havana.

1938: “II National Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture” Castillo de la Fuerza, Havana (award for Gitana Tropical).

1939: “Pan American Exposition at the New York World’s Fair”, Riverside Museum, New York.

1940: “Art in Cuba”, exhibition organized by the National Institute of Plastic Arts, University of Havana, February. “300 Years of Art in Cuba”, exhibition organized by the National Institute of Plastic Arts, University of Havana.

1944: “First Vicente Escobar Hall”, halls of the National Antifascist Front, Havana.

1945: “Exhibition of Modern Painting”, sponsored by the Ministry of Public Health, National Academy of Fine Arts, Guatemala.

1952: “Víctor Manuel exhibits” Association of Reporters, sponsored by the General Directorate of Culture of the Ministry of Education (exhibits night landscapes).

1954: “Tribute to José Martí, Contemporary Cuban Plastic Arts”, Lyceum, Havana.

1959: In the 1959 Annual Salon, Havana, the first after the triumph of the Revolution, an exhibition of his work is included as a tribute. The General Directorate of Culture dedicates the first series of monographs to him, written by the painter Marcelo Pogolotti.

1964: He begins to practice lithography at the Taller Experimental de la Gráfica, Plaza de la Catedral, Havana.

1965: “Engraving Fair, Exhibition of Contemporary Cuban Engravings”, José Martí National Library.

1966: “IV Exhibition of Lithographs of the Experimental Graphics Workshop.” Czechoslovak House of Culture. Havana.

1969: The National Museum opens a retrospective exhibition of his work.

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