Masterpiece Monday: :The Light in Cuban Eyes: Lake Forest College's Madeleine P. Plonsker Collection of Contemporary Cuban Photography

**Welcome to a new weekly feature on Ivory Owl Reviews: Masterpiece Mondays
This will complement the recent Foodie Friday feature that reviews new cookbooks. Masterpiece Mondays will feature reviews of new art book releases.**


Title: The Light in Cuban Eyes
Author: Lake Forest College
Publisher: Lake Forest Press
Publication Date: March, 2015
ISBN: 9781941423905
Number of Pages: 350
How I Got It: Susan Weinstein 
Format: e-galley

Publisher's Description:
This book publishes photographs from the "special period," when the former Soviet Union withdrew its economic support and Cuba was plunged into an extended period of deprivation. Embargoed away from the world with few cameras and expired film, the photographers of Cuba emerged from the shadows to show what was happening to their country. This is the first time this work will be shown together.
Photographic sculpture that from a distance appears as an antiquated T.V. screen; Havana’s Revolutionary Plaza photo shopped so as to appear underwater; a Russian nesting doll book that depicts the “good” Cuban citizen dressed in various Soviet guises; a satellite dish camouflaged in a huge black trash bag; a decaying classical building in old Havana, strangers pressed together on a traveling bus; a schoolboy weighted down with much more than his school bag.
The new book, THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES: Lake Forest College’s Madeleine P. Plonsker Collection of Contemporary Cuban Photography brings this work to U.S. and Cuban audiences. This is the first book entirely devoted to contemporary Cuban photography highlighting both emerging and established artists. The bilingual publication—is also the first book granted full support with permission to be distributed within Cuba by the Cuban Ministry of Culture—will be released in Cuba during the opening of the XII Bienal de la Habana in late May 2015. The Robert Mann Gallery in New York City will host a March launch in the U.S.
The story of THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES begins in 2000, when Madeleine P. Plonsker embarked on a cultural exchange trip to Cuba. Plonsker, a Chicago-based collector of twentieth-century masterworks on paper, thought she might collect a few souvenirs. She did not know the compelling works she uncovered would expand to the whole passage of a society in transition. THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES captures this inspired vision for the first time. Plonsker explains, "Cuban Photography has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past twenty years. Cuba's contemporary photographers are poised to reach a broader international audience, and the intent of my book is to bring you their story."

My Review: 
This collection of 50 photographers' works accompanied by artist's statements and collectors' comments, each presented dually in Spanish and English, is raw and beautiful. Brides, factory gears, and gates give glimpses to an island community rarely seen by non-Cubans. My favorite photo is by combat critic Adonis Flores, of a bouquet of flowers coming out of a soldier's mouth (p 69.) Alejandro Gonzalez' photos of Cuba's gay community are candid and raw and piercing. The final 50 or so pages feature essays such as "Metaphor in Photography"and "Notes on the Difficulty of Collecting Contemporary Cuban Photography," again dually presented in English and Spanish. This is great addition to anyone's art collection, especially one that does not not contain much modern photography or is lacking in geographic and cultural diversity. 

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

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