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Colorful Artists Bring the Caribbean More Fame

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Author: J. Smith

Without a doubt, visual art is one of the most important aspects of Caribbean culture. And as more and more artists from the region attract international acclaim and attention, the unique style of Caribbean painters is becoming accessible to wider and more diverse audiences.

Music and literature typically represent Caribbean art forms, with big names such as musician Bob Marley and poet Derek Walcott leading the pack. But painting is growing as a recognized form of expression. Colorful depictions of island life are especially popular in Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Art History

The Caribbean has always inspired through its unique sights and sounds. The bright colors of the region's landscapes and vibrant personalities of its people are particularly strong artistic motivators. However, Caribbean art history does contain a few surprises. Two famous artists, Camille Pissarro and John Audubon, were born in the Caribbean. Although their styles are not typical of the area, they have been influential in the development of regional art.

Pissarro was born on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, then at the age of 12 he moved to France. After he completed school, Pissarro returned to St. Thomas. When he moved to Paris a second time, Pissarro became very influential among Impressionist painters. Similarly, John Audubon was born in Haiti and moved to France at a young age. His study of birds took off during his later move to America.

However, Europe may only lay claim to some of the influences behind Caribbean artwork. African and Latin American styles are also strongly represented. African colors and people are often the subjects of paintings, with shades of Latin American influence in the stylization of the images.

Artistic Discovery

Fine Caribbean art can be found on many islands, but Cuban arts have been flourishing since the beginning of the 20th century, and political strife on Haiti and Cuba in particular have provided artists the opportunity to express complex emotions and political beliefs through their paintings.

Cuba's Wilfredo Lam was one of the first Caribbean artists to gain worldwide recognition. He was an associate of both Picasso and Georges Braque, which added to his success. The popularity of Lam quickly turned the art world's attention toward the entire region.

Fine works of art can be found on islands throughout the Caribbean, including Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. The Internet has also helped catch the eye of art aficionados by allowing people to view artists' works online without having to catch a plane or physically travel to a gallery or museum that features Caribbean artists.

However, fine works of art from many countries throughout the Caribbean also make popular souvenirs for those who do visit. Travelers enjoy bringing them home, and, luckily, fine arts are not included in the customs allowance for travelers returning to the United States from the Caribbean.

For anyone who craves visual art that is unique and refreshing, the beautiful works of Caribbean painters are a breath of fresh air. Artists who use the Caribbean's one-of-a-kind scenery and lifestyle as the basis for their art provide a new and creative way to view paradise.

Jennifer Smith writes for,, and other Segisys travel Web sites.

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