Though cut short by cancer, the life and career of Cuban artist Juan Franciso Elso has had deep influence on his peers in Cuba and in the United States. Along with Ana Mendieta, he is an artistic and spiritual leader of Cuba’s contemporary avant-garde, yet his work has been insufficiently examined. Olga Viso is developing “Por America: Juan Francisco Elso in Context” to provide long-needed historical context for his work and to demonstrate how it dovetailed with that of contemporaries, particularly the better-known Mendieta. Both artists were inspired by personal mysticism, Afro-Cuban ritual traditions, and Amerindian civilizations. Viso’s research examines Elso’s intersection with other key figures of his era, including Jimmie Durham and Luis Camnitzer, and explores the vital role artists played as conduits of information and ideas between those who remained in Cuba after the 1959 revolution and those who were exiled.
Warhol painted more than 100 works related to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, which some have read as complex reckoning of his homosexuality, Catholicism, and mortality in response to witnessing AIDS devastate the gay community.