There are works in the show that are Cuban Pop, Cuban Minimalist, Cuban whatever was going in the 60-plus years covered — though the arrangement isn’t chronological, but rather thematic, with sections titled “Cult and Deconstruction of the Revolutionary Nation,” “The Imposition of the Words: Discourse, Rhetoric, and Media Controls” and “Sea, Borders, Exile” among others.
There is a section of colorful, pointed posters that are particularly vigorous — as is so often the case in revolutions everywhere. And many of the photographs — these may be the most engaging works in the show, especially the early ones — are ironic, amusing, beautiful, stirring. La caballeria [Cavalry] of 1960, taken by Raúl Corrales shortly after victory over the dictatorship, when the ideals of the revolution were still new and believable, with fearless revolutionaries on horseback surging forward, flags snapping in the winds of destiny, has the force of Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People from a century before.
If you’re a student of the Cuban Revolution, or of art and revolution more generally, this is a show for you — of interest in itself, but also as a prelude to “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950,” an exhibition of the revolutionary (in several senses) art of our powerhouse Latin American neighbor, Mexico, which will be coming to MFAH in June.