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Adelaida de Juan Seiller

Adelaida de Juan Seiller


Aida Natalia Cardona Rivera

 "Adelaida has contributed with a model that merges the historian and critic into an indissoluble combination that enriches both disciplines but also ethics. […] She developed the notion that art criticism must be practiced rather than learned or taught. Her work as critic has helped bring into focus new gazes and open windows into several fields of knowledge, making her one of the people that have expanded the discipline's concept. Her intuition as a critic always helped her see those new proposals that contained true artisticity." Luz Merino.

Cuban educator and art critic Adelaida de Juan died on Monday, April 30, in Havana, Cuba, at the age of 87 as result of a heart attack.

Adelaida studied philosophy and letters at the Universidad de La Habana and completed graduate studies at Yale University (where she participated in a seminar given by George Kubler and eventually translated some of his texts into Spanish) and at the École du Louvre, in Paris.

For more than six decades, Adelaida was a key figure in the education of art historians in Cuba. Her career as teacher began in 1955 when she became professor of the Art History Department at the Universidad de La Habana where she founded the Art Criticism Workshop of the Department of Arts and Letters. Likewise, she taught courses at the Escuela de Brigadistas "Arístides Fernández" between 1961 and 1963, and at the Escuela Nacional de Arte between 1963 and 1967. She directed many dissertations and theses.

Since 1970, she served as advisor to the National Council for Visual Arts of the Cuban Ministry of Culture, the Artistic Board of the Museo Nacional, and the Centro de Estudios del Caribe of Casa de las Américas. In addition, she served as Latin American art expert for the UNESCO in Paris. Her active relationship with the exhibitions presented at Casa de las Américas translated into a series of essays, critiques and reviews compiled in volumes found at the Galería Latinoamericana and Visto en la Casa, where she analyzed concepts and offered her perspective on important movements and central figures for the understanding of the evolution of Latin American art.

In 1987, Adelaida became president of the Cuban Section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA, an organization with critics from around the world), and in 1988 she was appointed member of the National Council of the Unión Nacional de Escritiores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC).

Her work was recognized with several awards, including: the "Guy Pérez-Cisneros" Art Critic Award for her body of work, the 1964 Bibliographic Art Critique Award granted by the Fondo de Cultura Económica in Mexico, the 1994 Félix Varela Order of First Degree, International AICA Award for her outstanding contribution to art criticism in 2016, and the 2017 National Art Teaching Award granted by the Universidad de las Artes of the Instituto Superior de Art (ISA).

Along with her teaching, Adelaida de Juan Seiller also wrote multiple critical essays that were published in periodicals like the Revista Artecubano and Tabloide Noticias de Arte Cubano. Likewise, she published several books, including: Hacerse el Bobo de Abela (crítica y ensayo) [Playing Abela's Fool (Critique and Essay)]. 117 pp, 1978; En la Galería Latinoamericana (At the Galería Latinoamericana), Havana, 1979, 2nd edition—updated with the title Visto en la Casa de las Américas, 2016); Brevísima introducción a la historia del arte (Very Brief Introduction to the History of Art), 15 pp, 1987; Más allá de la pintura (Beyond Painting), Havana, 1993; Caricatura de la República (Caricature of the Republic), 2nd ed., Havana, 1999; José Martí: imagen, crítica y mercado de arte (José Martí: Image, Critique, and Art Market), Havana, 1998, 2nd ed., in press—winner of the 1999 Universidad de La Habana Award and the 1999 National Award of the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba; Del silencio al grito. Mujeres en las artes plásticas (From Silence to Shouting. Women in the Visual Arts), Havana, 2nd ed., expanded, in press); Abriendo ventanas (Opening Windows), Havana, 2006—winner of the 2007 Universidad de La Habana Award).



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