About the Collectors
The Farber Collection of contemporary Cuban art was launched in 2001 by collectors Howard and Patricia Farber. Howard Farber explains the collection’s origins and the ideas behind it.
When my wife Patricia and I first traveled to Cuba in the winter of 2001, we assumed we were going for the dance, the music, and the art. Soon enough, though, art took over, especially for me. In the course of that visit we were shown many artists’ studios, and pored over whatever art books we could find. We had already amassed significant collections of American modernist and contemporary Chinese art. On that trip in 2001, we embarked on a new journey: collecting contemporary Cuban art.
The Farber Collection is an international collection. It gathers together works by Cuban-born artists residing in many countries: Cuba, of course, but also Mexico, Canada, the United States, Germany, and beyond. The impulse to acquire these works did not arise from political motivation. Rather, it began as an effort to recover and preserve the art of an era—art that, to my mind, was in great danger of being lost. Many artists left Cuba in the early 1990s thinking that their fame in Havana would easily translate elsewhere. Several did achieve international success, but others struggled to reestablish their creative lives under unexpectedly challenging circumstances. Some, in Cuba and elsewhere, abandoned art for other careers. In many cases, work was left behind. Several pieces in the collection have never been publicly exhibited, either in Cuba or abroad.
The intervening years have seen many changes in Cuba and the world. As successive generations of Cuban artists have emerged, we have continued to expand our holdings, and building The Farber Collection continues to be a deeply satisfying experience. We have enjoyed pursuing rare, little-known works and securing for them the international attention they deserve. As individual artists’ reputations have grown, we have enjoyed acquiring larger and more ambitious works. It has been a pleasure getting to know the artists, who are warmly welcoming and vibrantly cosmopolitan. Like most collectors, we look to share our passion for the art that fascinates us.
Our involvement with Cuban art and culture has taken us beyond the role of collectors. In 2010, we established The Howard and Patricia Farber Foundation (previously known as Fundación Cuba Avant-Garde), a private foundation dedicated to promoting, supporting, and fostering awareness of contemporary Cuban art and culture. In addition to awarding grants to U.S.-based nonprofit cultural organizations, the Foundation sponsors Cuban Art News, a website covering all aspects of Cuban art and culture worldwide.
It is our hope that through these efforts, we will help create greater awareness of Cuban art and encourage broader recognition for this vibrant international culture.