Haitian art is a complex tradition, reflecting African roots with strong Indigenous American and European aesthetic and religious influences. It is an important representation of Haitian culture and history.
Many artists cluster in ‘schools’ of painting, such as the Cap-Haïtien school, which features depictions of daily life in the city, the Jacmel School, which reflects the steep mountains and bays of that coastal town, or the Saint-Soleil School, which is characterized by abstracted human forms and is heavily influenced by Vodou symbolism.
Saint Soleil school
The style began with Saincilus Ismaël (1940–2000), who was influenced by Byzantine art he had seen in books. Ismaël began to paint in 1956 after visiting the Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince. His paintings are marked by exquisite detail. Every article of clothing, house, or tree is painted with a different intricate geometric pattern.
Délouis Jean-Louis grew up in Petite Rivière under the influence of Ismaël. Although he worked under Ismaël for 15 years, he never had formal painting lessons. He began painting to make money, but gradually began to paint carefully executed scenes from his imagination.
Alix Dorléus also learned to paint with Ismaël and Mrs. Mellon. He paints all day long and will paint anywhere he feels the spirit to motivate him. His best paintings are detailed depictions, like activity maps, of daily life in the Artibonite Valley.
Ernst Louizor is considered one of the best impressionist painters of Haiti. Louzor was born in Port-au-Prince on October 16, 1938. After high school (Lycee Toussaint L'Ouverture '57) he worked in the tax section of Customs. Louizor's painting career began in 1951 when at the age of 13 he joined the Centre d'Art and studied under Wilmino Domond. He later entered the Académie des Beaux-Arts shortly after its founding in 1959 and furthered his studies with Georges Remponeau. Louzor has many disciples including his wife Gerda Louizor. He has exhibited in Europe and the U.S..
Outside of Haiti
The market painting
The market painting is a Haitian archetype, originating with Laurent Casimir. It typically depicts a Haitian market and is done in the trademark colors of Casimir red, yellow and orange. The motive is often dense with people. These paintings were mass-produced by Laurent Casimir and his apprentices in the mid-70's, all signed by Casimir. This archetype is later taken up by contemporary Haitian artist like Jean-Louis, many of which studied under Laurent Casimir.
Haitian sculpture is made of natural materials, traditional art mediums, and recycled materials.
"Haitian Steel Drum Sculpture" The village of Noailles in Croix-des-Bouquets is home to over a dozen artisan workshops producing countless pieces for over two decades. The work is created out of recycled oil drums. In August 2011, the Clinton Global Initiative along with Greif Inc., donated 40 tons of scrap metal to the artists in Croix-des-Bouquets. After the earthquake in 2010, artists had a difficult time finding material to work from. According to Deputy Jean Tholbert Alexis, 8,000 people in the area are directly or indirectly benefit from the villages' artisans.
The tradition of making flags to decorate Vodou places of worship is well established. Flags most often commemorate specific spirits or saints, but the 2010 earthquake has become a common subject. The use of sequins in these flags became prevalent in the 1940s, and many of today's flags cover the entire flag in colored sequins and beads. These flags are traded as art by dealers around the world.
2010 Haiti earthquake
On January 12, 2010 a devastating earthquake struck Port-au-Prince and the its surrounding area and resulted in mass devastation. The Haitian art world suffered great losses in the earthquake. Museums and art galleries were extensively damaged, among them Port-au-Prince's main art museum, Centre d'Art, where many art works were destroyed. The collection at Collège Saint Pierre also was devastated, as was the collection of priceless murals in the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Some private art galleries were also severely damaged, including the Monnin Gallery in Pétionville, and the Nader Art Gallery and Musée Nader in Port-au-Prince. The personal collection of Georges Nader Sr., the Nader collection was worth an estimated US$30-US$100 million. Shortly after the earthquake struck, UNESCO assigned special envoy Bernard Hadjadj to evaluate damage to artwork.
- "Galerie Macondo". Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "Clinton Foundation makes first loan to Haiti craft business under new program to boost economy". Associated Press. Retrieved 18 August 2011.[dead link]
- "USGS Magnitude 7.0 – HAITI REGION". Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- Tracy Wilkinson (24 January 2010). "A cultural agony in a nation where art is life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
- Pooja Bhatia (25 January 2010). "Art Trove Is Among Nation's Losses". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
Galleries in Haiti
Galleries in the United States
- HaitianArt.com Boca Raton, Florida
- MedaliaArt - New York
- Indigo Arts Gallery - Pennsylvania
- Galerie Lakaye - California
- Galerie Macondo - Pennsylvania
- Studio Wah - Maryland
- Nader Haitian Art Gallery- New York