Many historians date the beginning of Haitian Art with the opening of the Centre de Arte in Port-Au-Prince, by DeWitt Peters in 1944. However, artistic activity has always held a place in Haitian history. As early as 1807, Henri Christophe encouraged the development of art in the new independent Black Country. In 1816, Alexandre Petion helped a french artist to establish an art school in Port-Au-Prince. Although some smaller schools arose during those early years, the emphasis of the art was on Christian and Voodoo religion and portraiture. When DeWitt Peters opened the Centre de Arte, he created an environment in which talented artists could express themselves, and young artists could develop their skills..
Amazingly, the founders of the Centre de Arte uncovered a wealth of talent that would forever affect the history of the art movement in Haiti. The first painter to gain world-wide recognition was Hector Hyppolite, who was a Shoe-Maker. Sad to say, He was a voodoo priest, yet had great artistic ability, which made him one of the greatest natural painters of modern times. Those early painters, known as 1st generation artists, included the now popular, Philome Obin, Rigaud Benoit, Castera Bazile and Wilson Bigaud. These men were completely untrained artistically. They came to their canvasses as bookkeepers, truck drivers, and houseboys. Their subjects were most often what they perceived in everyday mundane life and from what they had learned from their mythical religion, voodoo and from Christianity.
HECTOR HYPOLLITE PAINTINGS- (click to enlarge)
Although these Caribbean Artists came from simple backgrounds, their paintings were full of passion, detail and color. They managed to integrate what they saw, felt and believed and expressed it with intensity of emotion and a childlike innocence. These men had no formal education, no visual training and basically developed their styles in isolation from the rest of the Art world.
These first generation Artists inspired a second generation of painters. These new painters had the good fortune to benefit from the numerous art schools that developed in Port-Au-Prince and Cap-Haitian. As the art world discovered the wonders of the naive Haitian art and the artists were exposed to different artistic styles, each generation of Haitian artist become more sophisticated and trained. Some of the third and fourth generation of artists still uses what is known as the native or primitive original style in their works, while others employ new materials and styles.
Whichever their choice of style, the Haitian artist will always represent a folk art expression of spontaneity and simplicity. When visiting Haiti on your Missions Trip, encourage hard working Artists, by purchasing some Artworks from local Artists to help them feed their families. Many Artists are Christian as well. Haitian Artwork makes a great souvenir. Remember, the workman is worthy of his labor! Pay them what you would expect to pay in America.
Haitian Paintings are vivid, colorful and found everywhere in Haiti, and abundant on Cars and Buses. Wood-Carvings are intricate in detail. Paper Mache, Bead Art, Metal-Works, you name it, you will find it all in Haiti and well worth the money.
Enjoy the various works of Art from various Artists below. Simply click on any of Artwork below, to enlarge them for a better view.
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