In his paintings from the nineteen-forties, Lam represented the dynamic mix at stake in Caribbean culture. While his art was not anthropological per se, it did attempt to forge a visual language to express the combinations part and parcel of Cuba. "La mañana verde" is one of the paintings in which Lam consolidated a language of his own. It depicts what appears to be a Santeria ceremony or rite in the middle of a sugarcane plantation. From the vegetation emerges a winged and hoofed female body leaning her head. In the Cuban Santeria tradition, this image represents a person possessed by the spirits. The horseshoes in particular are identified with the body that the orisha “mounts.” Coming out from the top of her neck are other heads that represent two orishas: Elegua, guardian of the road, and Ogun, protector of the hills and god of iron. At her feet is a pyx holding offerings of corn and fruit, and in her dark-red right hand she holds tabaco leaves. Two years before making this painting, Lam had returned to Cuba aboard the “Capitaine Paul Lemerle.” Fellow passengers included André Breton, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and other intellectuals and artists also fleeing the Nazi invasion. During that journey, Lam came into contact with both cultural practices and political visions that would have a great impact on him. Key to understanding La mañana verde is Lam’s reaffirmation of what he called “the Black thing,” an interest in the population of African descent he shared with Martinican poet and political scientist Aimé Césaire. Lam reaffirmed those interests in his native Cuba, where he furthered his research on Afro-Cuban culture, which was tied to his own life, to the world of his childhood and youth. Of the over one hundred canvases he would paint on Afro-Cuban themes, "La mañana verde" is one of the most outstanding.


  • Title: The Green Morning
  • Creator: Wifredo Lam
  • Date Created: 1943
  • Physical Dimensions: 73.6 x 48.8 in
  • Provenance: Malba Collection
  • Medium: Oil on paper mounted on canvas

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