Indigenous Haiti

By Haiti Film Institute

The Haitian Art Society DC Chapter

The indigenous soul of Haiti with its Taino and African influences was celebrated  during the retrospective of one of Haiti's premier artist, Hector Hyppolite. Several prominent Haitian artists participated in the opening of the exhibit organized by the Haitian Art Society (HAS) at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC in 2009. 

Zèmi (1498) by Taino ZemiHaiti Film Institute

The Taino Indians were the first people to inhabit Haiti. They immortalized Haiti's name, which is Ayti, meaning Mountainous Land.

The indigenous soul of Haiti from Indian or African influence is displayed in many artforms and expresses the subtle connections between humanity, nature and spirituality.

Portrait of King Henri Christophe (1816) by Richard EvansHaiti Film Institute

Portrait of Henri Christophe (1767-1820). Christophe was a military leader in the war of Haitian Independence, president and later king.

With his full court of nobles, counts and knights, Christophe was at the same time controversial and instrumental in the development of culture and the arts in Haiti.

In 1816, an art school was founded by a French artist and in 1846 the "Imperial Academy of the Arts" was founded under Haitian Emperor Faustin Soulouque.

Still Life (1960) by Petion SavainHaiti Film Institute

One of Haiti's foremost painters, Petion Savain, reached acclaim as the recipient of the IBM medal at the Treasure Island World's Fair in 1939. Born in 1906, Savain and other artists such as Georges Remponeau were significant in the global appreciation of Haitian art.

The Museum Catalog cover of the College Saint Pierre (1970) by Musee d'art HaitienHaiti Film Institute

Haitian art with its strong Indigenous roots was an important attraction to visitors to the island during the 1940's-1970's, most particularly with international painters such as French surrealist, Andre Breton, Cuban artist, Wilfredo Lam and American artist Dewitt Peters. Haitian art was also a treasure to be collected by sophisticated connoisseurs such as Nelson Rockefeller and Jaqueline Kennedy-Onassis.

Hector Hyppolite Self-portrait (1946) by Hector HyppoliteHaiti Film Institute

The spirit of collecting Haitian Art was heightened through the opening of the Art Center (Centre d'Art) in Port-au-Prince in 1944. This created a hub for aspiring artists and collectors.

Today, the Haitian Art Society (HAS), an international non profit organization formed in 2003 to advance knowledge and interest in Haitian Art, continues the legacy. Composed of art collectors, gallerists, museum professionals, scholars, and researchers, HAS gathers together annually in different cities to celebrate Haitian Art and share in the appreciation of their collected treasures.

As part of their annual conference in 2009 the indigenous art of renown artist Hector Hyppolite was exhibited through a retrospective of his paintings which opened at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC.

Vodou Flag (1968) by Myrlande ConstantHaiti Film Institute

Haitian Art Society members relish in the beauties associated with decorative Haitian flags made with sequins and beads on cloth....

Women in Vase with Flowers (1973) by Fils Rigaud BenoitHaiti Film Institute

to artists with form and design precision....

Mambo (1960) by Andre PierreHaiti Film Institute

to bold colors and impactful imagery.....

Heart to Body (1989) by Philippe DodardHaiti Film Institute

with a bit of texture and sensitivity....

Post Earthquake (2010) by Elizabeth MartineauHaiti Film Institute

to an artist's personal interpretation of a post-earthquake scene. The elements of art from Haiti stimulate the senses creating an aura for mystical imagination.

The Haitian Art Society "Mystical Imagination Retrospective of Hector Hyppolite." (2009) by Mark BarronHaiti Film Institute

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