But in a short time the art schools and their architects fell out of favor and were subjected to attacks that resulted in the schools’ subsequent “disappearance”, and the departure of two of the three architects. Today, the organic complex of brick and terra–cotta Catalan vaulted structures lies in various stages of use and abandonment, some parts until recently literally overgrown by the jungle. They are a testament to a unique moment in a utopian dream that succumbed to dystopian reality. Ultimately, redemption came, and the National Art Schools are now officially recognized by the Cuban government as national treasures.
Revolution of Forms takes the reader from that euphoric moment of the beginning of the schools through the subsequent convergence and collision of architecture, ideology, and culture in 1960’s Cuba. To get another insight into that unique moment in which the schools were created, this link will take you to Variaciones, an elegant little work of cinema–graphic poetry by the young Humberto Solás, later acclaimed director of Fresa y Chocolate and other internationally renowned films.
“For me this site of creativity, this space of radical openness and cultural practice is a margin—a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a “safe” place. One is always at risk....[M]arginality nourishes one’s capacity to resist. It offers the possibility of radical perspectives from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds.”
“We began the schools with the belief that everything was possible. There was so much faith in the future at that time, and a complete lack of preconceived ideas. The euphoria, the enthusiasm, the unbounded happiness… that is what I believe is most reflected in the schools. And that today is still their greatest message.”
“the most beautiful academy of arts in the whole world.”