Cuba: Rita Longa Aróstegui

Today marked the birth of Rita Longa Aróstegui (1912-2000), born in Havana on June 14 and renowned in Cuba for her small and large scale sculptures. Her sculptural works are found all over Havana—at the National Zoo (“Family Group”), the Colón Cemetery, the Museum of Fine Arts (Shape, Space and Light), the Surgical Medical Center, the Payret Theater (“The Muses” and “Illusion”), Havana Libre Hotel (Clepsydra), and the garden of National Theater (“Death of the Swan”)—as well as in other Cuban cities. Several of her works can be found in Spain, for example, a relief of José Martí in Madrid and a sculpture of Martí in Oleiros. Her “Gema” is found in Belgrade, Serbia.

Many of her pieces have become iconic, such as her bronze sculpture of the Indian leader Hatuey, which became the symbol of the famous homonymous beer and “Ballerina,” symbol of the internationally known Cabaret Tropicana.

Among her many awards, she won a Gold Medal at the Exhibition of the Architectural League of New York (1951). More recently, she was awarded the “Alejo Carpentier” Medal (1982), the National Visual Arts Prize (1995), and the “Félix Varela Order” (1996). Longa’s work achieved a marked permanency: “urban alterations, environmental disasters, changes in aesthetics and fashion have not affected the communicative effectiveness of her work.”

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