The fan has historically been used to flirt, protect the face from offensive breath, indicate social status, and keep a lady from sweating through her petticoat, but it’s flat surface can be a tempting blank canvas for artists.
In 1943, Cuban artists like Wifredo Lam, René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, Mario Carreño, Cundo Bermúdez, Carlos Enríquez and Felipe Orlando used their artistic skills to beautify fans that would eventually be exhibited and auctioned off to raise funds to help restore Santa María del Rosario, a Baroque church in Havana, Cuba that had fallen into disrepair.
Sixty-nine years later, the MDC Museum of Art + Design brings together many of the same Cuban artists as well as a younger generation for a similar show. The exhibit, Fans Forever, features 50 fans painted by Cuban masters like Wifredo Lam and René Portocarrero as well as contemporary Cuban artists and opens Thursday, Sept. 20 with a reception starting at 5 p.m.
Curator Gustavo Orta says the show pays tribute to that historic artistic act of altruism: “We have tried to commemorate that beautiful gesture by those Cuban artists in the ’40s with a 21st Century exhibition.”