Haitian Art Hopkins
lists that follow are neither comprehensive nor representative.
The items are simply what I have in my own library.
Many of the books and articles deal with Haitian art
exclusively; most include reproductions of paintings.
Jac Avila and
Vanyoska Gee, Krik? Krak! (Tales of a Nightmare). VHS, 78
minutes. Chicago: Facets Video, 1997.
A relentless exploration of the
poverty, misery, and horrors of Haitian life and history, the
award–winning film from which this video was taken is a pastiche of
scenes from newsreels and documentaries … of commercial movies … of
specially shot views of urban and rural life … of interviews with noted
Haitians and common people … and even of Haitian protests in New York.
Included are snippets of film from the 1915–34 U S occupation; of Papa
and Baby Doc; and of 'boat people' preparing to flee, explaining why,
showing what's likely to — and too often does — happen to them on the
open seas and if and when they reach Florida. The filmmakers make an
unsuccessful effort to integrate this mishmash by returning frequently to Haitian
beliefs in magic, or vodou. The VHS is copyrighted 1997; the film's
credits show a date seven years earlier (MCMXC). The Krik? Krak!
of the title is unrelated to Edwige Danticat's short story collection
Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haïti. VHS, 52 minutes. New
York: Mystic Fire Video, 1998.
Black–and–white film shot by Deren
in 1947–51 and edited into a visual synopsis of her book of the same
title (see below). Included
are fascinating scenes of vodou ceremonies, including rara.
Jean–Marie Drot (director), Haïti: A Painted History. VHS, 56
minutes. Chicago: Home Vision Arts, 1997.
A rendering of Haïtian history from 1492 to 1992 by Drot (see below), with key events
illustrated in paintings that formed an exhibit that
toured Europe and and the United States in the 1990s.
The Art of Haiti (The self-taught Painters). VHS, 26 minutes. Chicago:
Facets Video New Visions, 1983.
On–camera interviews with
Rigaud Benoit and
Philomé Obin are highlights
in this short feature; it focuses on the work of Benoit,
Hector Hyppolite, Obin, and
André Pierre, with briefer views of the work
of Castera Bazile and
Gérard Valcin. The narration stresses the rôle of
vodou in Haitian art — an influence nowhere evident in the work of Obin.
Labor Committee, Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti. VHS, 30 minutes. New York: Crowing
Rooster Arts, 1996.
'Walt Disney and the Science of Exploitation,' this tape castigates
American and multi–national corporations that exploit Haitians' desperate need for jobs —
companies like Disney, which pays a worker 'only 7 cents for [producing items that] sell in WalMart
[as well as J C Penny and Sears] for
$11.97.' By 2001 that rate had
improved, but only to 28–30 cents for the Haitian worker. Paul Farmer (see below)
narrates the tape. The tape was a gift from the director of Harvard
Labor Studies program, a Farmer friend and supporter.
Elizabeth Abbott, Tropical Obsession: A Universal Tragedy in Four
Acts. Port–au–Prince: Deschamps, 1986.
—— (as Elizabeth Abbott Namphy), Haïti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy. New
York: McGraw Hill, 1988.
A no–holds–barred condemnation of
Papa and Baby Doc. That the two dictators were vile there can be no doubt.
But if it can be said of Mussolini that he made the trains run on time,
it should also be said of the Duvaliers that they kept the lid on crime — especially violent crime
— except, alas, for crime by government
agents, notably themselves and their tontons macoutes.
Gérald Alexis, Peintres haïtiens. Paris: Cercle d'Art, 2000
brilliant full–color illustrations accompany the text in this superb
volume. (Published in France, the 300–plus page, 'table–sized' work was printed in Italy.) Quibbles are
possible. Alexis slights naïfs — except for Hector Hyppolite — and gives excessive attention to the
sophisticates favored by Haïti's elite: references to and illustrations of works by
the modernist Bernard Séjourné outnumber those given to
Obin and Rigaud Benoit combined — and many of the most
celebrated naïfs are ignored all together. In the 'English version,' at least, there are
numerous errors, ranging from birth and death dates
to the use of a masculine pronoun in references to the fine
St–Fleurant. Still, this is a must–have book for any lover of Haitian
art. My copy was obtained from the Medalia Gallery —
Michèle Alfred et al., L'Esoterisme
Magique de Stivenson Magliore. Port–au–Prince: Henri Deschamps,
A slim but
oversized volume with essays on the short life and great art of
Louisiane St–Fleurant's elder son,
The paperback features 20 large color reproductions. (The haunting
of the artist that follows the title page was taken by Bill Bollendort
of the Macondo Gallery —
it also appears, cropped, on this
Anonymous, Auction Catalog. New York: Streetworkers, 16 Nov 73
For a note on this auction, see
——, Auction Catalogs. New York: Sotheby Park Bernet: 25 Jan 75, 9 Sept
76, 12 Apr 77, 9 Jul 81.
Haïti: Art Naïf, Art Vaudou [exhibition catalog]. Paris,
——, Haitian Art Newsletter. Silver Spring, MD: April, June, October,
December 1978; June 1979.
——, 'Haïti: l'ile de la coleur.' Vogue (Paris), February 1980.
Erzulie Dantor appears in this
feature. The image is cropped so as to eliminate
her signature, thus making the image comply
with the text's observation that Saint–Soleil artists 'rarely sign
works.' Saying the
artists don't sign their paintings is a romantic conceit; forcing the
accord with the narrative is an excessive bit of Gallic rationalism.
——, 'Haitian Painting Brings Record Price at Auction.' American
Collector, July 1977.
The work cited was by
It sold for $4,000. That wasn't a 'record price' even then; it's not a
whole lot different from what one would pay, in constant dollars, for a fair to good Philippe–Auguste
——, Haïti: Premiere Republic Noire du Nouveau Monde. Brussels:
I suspect this work was commissioned – or at least inspired – by Papa
Doc. He is featured prominently and extolled in it. My copy was a gift
from Néhemy Jean, who also wrote a
nice note in it.
——, Les Monuments du Roi Christophe. Port–au–Prince:
l'Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimonie National, 1980.
A guide for visitors to these magnificent ruins, the greatest of which
is the Citadelle.
——, 19 schilders uit haïti. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1949.
A collector's item,
one of the first publications on Haitian art issued outside that
country, this 20–page catalogue features 54 black–and–white photographs
of works by some of the greats of Haitian painting. (Larry Kent, a major
collector, was kind enough to give me this 'catalogus.')
——, Peintures Haïtiennes. Boulogne: Delroisse, 1978.
Pierre Apraxine, Haitian Painting: The Naïve Tradition [exhibition catalog].
New York: American Federation of the Arts, 1973.
Vision de l'Artiste appears in
Charles Arthur & Michael Dash (eds), Libète: A Haiti Anthology.
London: Latin America Bureau, 1999.
Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls Rising. New York: Pantheon
——, Master of the Crossroads. New York: PantheonBooks, 2000.
The Stone that the Builder Refused. New York: Pantheon Books,
George Bernard Shaw says somewhere
that one can better learn about the past from historical novels than
from history texts. That's not generally true, I think; but  All Souls
recreation of events in the first two years of the 1791–1803 revolution — with both
historical and fictional characters — is the kind of work Shaw must had in mind.
of the Crossroads, the next work in his trilogy, carries Bell's
account to 1801.  The Stone that the Builder Refused, the weakest
of the three books, begins with Tousaint l'Overture in the dismal prison
to which Buonaparte had sent him; scenes of Toussaint's cruel and
humiliating treatment appear at various points in the novel. The main
narrative takes the story, with many accounts of battles, to
the arrest of Toussaint in 1802. A brief epilogue tells of the
ex–slaves' victory, Haïti's independence, and its immediate aftermath.
All three books are imaginatively conceived, extensively researched, and
well written. I recommend them.
Oto Bihalji–Merin, Masters of Naïve Art. New York:
A classic work that features
informed commentary — with fine illustrations — about naïf works
from several countries, among them Haïti.
Andre Bourguigon, Haïti: La Perle des Antilles. Geneva: Editions
Voodoo: Spirits in Haitian Art. San Diego: San Diego Museum of Man,
account of vodun and its influence on and appearance in Haïtian art by a
longtime collector and sometime resident in Jacmel.
Carl A Brasseaux & Glenn R Conrad (eds), The Road to Louisiana:
The Saint–Domingue Refugees 1792–1809.
Lafayette: University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1992.
An introduction and four lengthy essays on the flight of whites and mulatres,
and the removal of slaves from the French colony during and after the Haitian Revolution — and
their contribution to the culture of Louisiana
and the Mississippi Valley. Some of the blancs were displaced
three times: as Huguenots, from France by Catholic repression; as
Frenchmen, from Québec after the
British conquest; and finally, as blancs, from Haïti. My own
maternal ancestors followed this sad trail.
Roger Norman Buckley (ed), The Haitian Journal of Lieutenant Howard,
York Hussars, 1796–98. Knoxville: U of Tennessee, 1985.
Jean–Robert Cadet, Restavec: From Haitian Slave–Child to
Middle–Class American. Austin: U of Texas, 1998.
The subtitle reveals the storyline of this first heartrending then uplifting
autobiography. The widespread use and
abuse of restaveks — children farmed out as domestic servants
and laborers — is a human rights crime that
parallels the ongoing incidence of slavery in Mauretania, the Sudan, other parts of Africa,
the Arabian Peninsula, and elsewhere. It ought to be
just as rigorously investigated by international authorities. (In its 5 March
2001 edition, Time magazine ran a lengthy article, 'Of Haitian
Bondage,' a revealing
piece that includes a historical perspective as well as
accounts of the harrowing experiences
of restaveks both in Haïti and among immigrant families in the U
Eleanor Ingalls Christensen, The Art of Haiti. Philadelphia: Art
Alliance Press, 1975.
Excellent reproductions in an art book that covers the work of
just a handful
Donald J Cosentino (ed), Sacred Arts of Haitian
Vodou. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1995.
enormous, 450–page book exploring vodou in depth. Issued in
conjunction with an exhibit of vodou–related
art, the oversized book includes hundreds of illustrations —
paintings, flags, sculpture, sequined
bottles, and scenes of Haitian life and vodou practice. Prominent
among the featured artists are Hector Hyppolite, André Pierre, and Gérard Valcin.
Edwige Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory. New York: Vintage Books,
——, Krik? Krak! New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
——, The Farming of Bones. New York: Soho Press, 1998.
Fascinating tales of Haitian life by a young woman brought to the United
States as a child, but who remains
fully Haitian in her heart.
—— & Jonathan Demme, Island on Fire. New York: Kaliko Press, 1997.
an exhibit of film director Demme's Haitian art collection, this is a
lavishly illustrated work. Danticat's introduction alone is worth the book's cost.
Wade Davis, The Serpent and the Rainbow.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.
Don't judge the book
by the silly film made of it. This is a straightforward and fascinating
account of a
Harvard scholar's quest for the truth behind zombiism.
It demystifies the zombi. Rather than a dead person resurrected
and enslaved, the zombi is one fed a potion that includes the
debilitating poison of the puffer fish; he or she is then in a
trance of varying depth and length, and may be able to follow simple to
fairly complex orders. Though some have disputed Davis's claim, his
research and reasoning persuade me that he found the truth about
zombiism. (The most exquisite
sushi is prepared from the puffer fish, known in Japan as fugu.
Chefs must be specially trained and licensed to carve out the poison;
even so fugu kills a small
number of people each year.)
Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. New York:
Seven Stories Press, 2005.
journalist's narrative and analysis of the corruption, rivalries,
and upheavals that led to the second exiling of President (and
ex–Catholic priest) Jean–Bertrand Aristide in 2004. The work quickly summarizes
Haitian history from Columbus to the overthrow of Baby Doc, the events
leading up to Aristide's
first presidency and its aftermath (to 2000). It then examines
Aristide's second presidency — frequently getting bogged down in detail
— until his increasingly corrupt and dictatorial regime led to
Aristide's being deposed again. The book could have used a good editor,
not only to condense its length, but also to correct its frequently
garbled syntax. Still, for those interested in the last dozen years of
Haitian history, Notes from the Last Testament will tell them
just about everything they need or will want to know.
Jonathan Demme and
Direct from the Eye: The Jonathan Demme Collection of Self-Taught Art
(auction catalogue). Philadelphia, Material Culture, 2014.
A total of 1,050 items from film director Demme's collection were in a
two-day auction. Perhaps a fifth of them were works by Haitians. Others
were by artists from Africa, Brazil, Jamaica, the United States, and
elsewhere. Also offered were hundreds of antique bottles.
Maya Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. New York:
McPherson, 1953 [1970 reprint].
See the video, above.
Leslie Desmangles, The Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism
in Haiti. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1992.
Educated, upper–class (mostly mulatre) Haitians are often at
pains to denigrate the importance of vodou in Haïti — though many
if not most of them give it some measure of credence. (I have seen small
vodou shrines in the homes of prosperous and educated mulatre
families in Port–au–Prince, Jacmel, and Cap–Haitien.) Desmangles's
account argues for the primacy of Catholicism but demonstrates the hold
Carol Devillers, 'Haiti's Voodoo Pilgrimages.' National Geographic,
A beautifully photographed essay documenting devotions at major sites,
including the Bassin Bleu waterfall.
Bernard Dietrich & Al Burt, Papa Doc and the Tonton Macoutes.
Port–au–Prince: Henri Deschamps, 1986.
——, Papa Doc: Haiti and Its Dictator. Maplewood, NJ: Waterfront Press, 1991.
The authors' 1991 work expands on their 1986 effort. It includes
information not available in the immediate
downfall of the dictatorship as well as observations about the macoutes'
Jean–Marie Drot, Chez le peintures de la Fête et dau Vaudou en
Haïti. Geneva: Skira, 1974.
One of the best — and best printed — surveys of Haitian art.
Katharine Dunham, Island Possessed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1969
A classic account of Haitian morals, manners, and religion — by an
American who lived in and loved the
Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press,
A severe indictment of the exploitation of Haïtians by the international
community and multi–national corporations.
The author is — or was — an assistant professor in the Harvard
Medical School who
'conducts his research and medical practice in rural Haiti, where he
specializes in community–based efforts to
improve the health of the poor.' (See also Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti
in 'Viewing,' above.)
Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Traveller's Tree. London: Penguin
Books, 1950 [1984 reprint].
Only a small part of this book deals with Haïti;
but it's a fascinating glimpse of the scene a few years before Papa Doc's
Carolyn Fick, The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from
Below. Knoxville: U of Tennessee, 1990.
Lucien Finkelstein & Mariza Campos
da Paz, Rio de Janeiro naïf. Rio de Janeiro: Edições MIAN,
Museu Internacional de Arte Naïf, 2000.
Lavishly illustrated, this book covers the history of self-taught painting
in Brazil and features the work of ten artists whose works are featured in the museum's permanent
collection. While no Haitian artists appear in the book, the museum
itself has a few minor works from Haïti on exhibit. (As a frequent
visitor to Brazil between 1998 and 2004, I collected about a dozen
paintings, mostly naïfs, from that country. They do not appear on
John Allen Franciscus, Haiti: Voodoo Kingdom to Modern Riviera. San
Juan, PR: Franciscus Family Foundation, 1980.
In addition to scores of
small color and black–and–white shots of Haitian works that Franciscus
owns/ed, as well as biographies of leading artists and lists of lesser
known painters (ranked by the estimated cost of their works), the book
has a good history of the colonial/slave period and a little about everything else in Port–au–Prince a generation ago —
hotels, restaurants, and more. The author's brother is, or was, an
American television actor.
Herbert Gold, The Best Nightmare on Earth. New York: Simon & Schuster,
An account of a gifted writer's visits and stays in Haïti, the book
sympathizes with the Haitian people and properly demonizes the Duvaliers.
Michèle Grandjean, Artistes en Haïti. Marseille: Art et Coeur
Elaine D. Gustafson (ed), Island Delights: The Spirit and Passion of
Haitian Art. Tampa: Museum of Art, 2000.
This booklet accompanied a January–March 2000 exhibit of Haitian art.
Only 10 of 28 pages focus on the art. The fine painter Gérard Valcin is repeatedly identified as 'Gérard Calcin.'
Robert & Nancy Heinl, Written in Blood: The History of the
Haitian People. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978.
The Heinl's son, Michael, has updated his parents' book. I haven't seen
the new edition. The original is the most comprehensive English–language
history of the island nation. It is long on military, political, and
economic history, short on social and cultural matters. The writing
suggests its authors never completed an English composition class — the text uses the verb 'to sniff'
excessively (I sniff) — but the chronology and much of the analysis is
useful. (Colonel Heinl was a member of a
U S Marine
advisory group in Haïti
in the 1950s; he knew Papa Doc well and came to despise the
despot.) I have not read the update by the Heinl's son.
Melville Herskovits, Life in a Haitian Valley. Garden City, NY:
Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1937 (1971 reprint).
A classic. From what I have seen and read,
pathetically little has
changed in rural Haïti the past seven
L G Hoffman, Haitian Art: The Legend and Legacy
of the Naïve Tradition. Davenport, Iowa: Beaux Arts Fund, 1985.
history of Haiti prefaces an account — peppered with personal stories
— of the genesis and development
of naïf art in the island nation. It is tied to the
promotional efforts of Le Centre d'Art and the Davenport Art Gallery,
home of the first permanent collection outside of Haiti. Artists' biographies, lists of exhibitions, and nearly
100 illustrations — about a third of them in color — fill out this
oversized, 252–page book.
C L R James, The Black Jacobins. New York: Vintage Books, 1963
An interpretation of the Haitian
Revolution by a scholar who stretches to make the 1791–1803 struggle fit a Marxist
paradigm. Even the crusade against slavery — in Great Britain and the U
— is represented solely as a reflection of class and economic warfare: no credit
is given to Wilberforce, Lincoln, or
other abolitionists for humanitarian
principles. Still, the author's political orientation is understandable. (Late in his long life the great W E B Dubois shared it.) Oppression and cruelty led many New World blacks to embrace any enemy of their enemy. As a personnel clerk in the U S Army, in the
early 1950s, I once processed the records
of a soldier named Hitler Stalin J——. Among the many more sophisticated reflections
of that alienation are, of course, given and assumed names like Malcolm X.
Gyneth Johnson. How the Donkeys Came to Haïti and Other Tales.
New York: Devin–Adair, 1949.
Tales that will entertain children, amuse adults, and cast
light on the myths that shape the Haitian psyche.
Gregory Katz, 'Struggle in Paradise.' Art & Antiques, May
Wilson Bigaud: Life on the Edge. Folk Art Messenger, Richmond VA:
A brief, sympathetic account, nicely illustrated, of the life and
work of this giant of Haïtian
Madame Dread: A Tale of Love, Vodou, and Civil Strife in Haiti. New
York: Nation Books, 2005.
young American woman goes to Haïti on a commercial quest, falls in love
with the country and with a Haitian man, gets into vodou and,
along the way, develops into an accomplished journalist reporting on the
horrors that have beset the country since the fall of Jean–Claude
Duvalier in 1986. Her story is fascinating and will evoke memories in
anyone who's spent much time in Haïti.
Fred Lambrou, Haitian Art News. Singer Island, FL: April, Summer,
September, Winter 1995; Summer, Winter 1996.
One of several short-lived
newsletters promoting Haitian art.
Eugenio Fernandez Mendez, Le Primitivisme Haïtien. Barcelona:
Georges Nader, 1972.
A beautifully illustrated survey, however much dated.
Michele Montas, Haïti. Tokyo: Editions du pacifique, 1975.
About a decade after this survey of
Haitian life and art was published, Ms Montas became the second wife of
Jean Dominique, a crusading broadcast journalist. Though the couple were
— or chose
— to flee the
country more than once, when it operated their radio station Haïti–Inter, was a strong
and popular voice for the nascent pro–democracy movement. At first
vigorous supporters of Jean–Bertrand Aristide, Dominique and Montas were
quickly disillusioned as the ex–priest became president and began
enriching himself and his followers and encouraging thuggery. Their
radio station was destroyed more than once and ultimately Dominique was
murdered — whether by pro– or anti–Aristide thugs is unknown, as are so
many murders and other crimes in post–Duvalier Haïti.
Marie–José Nadal–Gardère & Gérald Bloncourt, La Peinture Haïtienne/Haitian
Arts. Paris: Editions Nathan, 1986.
Weighted heavily in favor of
sophisticate — and mulatre — artists, this book is a good survey
of the works of a few contemporary artists.
Mme Nadal–Gardère is herself a painter
and the owner of a leading Petionville gallery; M Bloncourt is a poet and painter.
Georges Nader, Contemporary Haïtian Art. Barcelona, 1971.
Nader is a long-time Port-au-Prince gallery owner who has also had
galleries in Petionville, New York City, Coral Gables, and Santo
Domingo. His galleries in Haïti as well as a priceless personal
collection were destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, a tragedy for the
world of Haitian art as well as for the Nader family.
Elizabeth Abbott Namphy: see Elizabeth Abbot.
David Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour and
National Independence in Haiti. New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ
This is a revised edition of a work,
published originally in 1979, that explores the noir–mulatre
tensions that underlie so much of Haitian history. An extensive preface discusses the country's history
in the decade since
Baby Doc's 1986 downfall.
William Orem, Zombi, You My Love. Woodside, CA:
La Questa Press, 1999.
Cute short stories by an American who knows
and loves the country.
Lyonel Paquin, The Haitians: Class and Color Politics. New York:
Haïti's 'dirty secret' is not so secret:
to be at the top
of the socio–economic pyramid one almost certainly needs to be
Despite Papa Doc and despite Jean–Bertrand Aristide, the less than 10 percent of
Haitians who are mulatres dominate the country and its huge noir majority.
Saint–Brice en six tableau et un dessin. Port–au–Prince: Henri
A series of essays on
Robert Saint–Brice, on Haitian naïfs generally, and on their
connection to vodou, accompany the illustrations in this small book.
Eva Pataki, Haitian Painting: Art and Kitsch. Chicago: Adams
Pataki's survey shows its origins: it is the outgrowth of a master's degree thesis.
useful in that it includes a list of some 1,200 artists and about 200
(black–and–white) photographs of paintings.
James Ridgway (ed), The Haiti Files: Decoding the Crisis.
Washington: Essential Books, 1994.
Jacques Roche (ed), Lucner Lazard: Une Rétrospective.
Port–au–Prince: Musée d'Art Haïtien du Collège Saint–Pierre,
useful view of this fine artist's work with a few photographs of his
Selden Rodman, The Miracle of Hatian Art. Garden City, NY:
Associate of DeWitt Peters at the dawn of the movement —
in the 1940s — Rodman was long the premier champion of
Haitian art. His books are must–haves for any collector. He died, aged 93, in November 2002.
in Haiti: Popular Painters in the Black Republic. New York:
Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1948.
first book-length treatment of the Haitian art, with a detailed account
of the establishment of the Centre d'Arte. Rodman discusses at length the discovery of several artist, notably
Obin, Castera Bazile,
J-E Gourgue, and
Wilson Bigaud. The book includes
many black-and-white photographs and a few color plates.
——, Haitian Art: The Third Generation. Meridian, CN: Doubleday,
——, Haïti: The Black Republic (4th ed). Greennwich, CN:
this work's first edition Rodman lauded François (Papa Doc) Duvalier
for establishing order and for empowering Haïti's noirs (as against the
country's long dominant mulatre class); he also slammed the Kennedy
Administration for ostracizing the Duvalier regime and suggested that
reports of its
extensive and sadistic human rights abuses were either fabricated or
overdrawn. Soon after the fall of
Jean-Claude (Baby Doc), Rodman wrote an article for National Review,
the right-wing American journal, condemning both of the Duvaliers and all
their works. A generous interpretation is that Rodman's praise of Papa
and Baby was part of the price he felt he had to pay for owning property
and living part of the year in Haïti during the Duvalier era.
——, Where Art Is Joy. New York: Ruggles de Latour, 1988.
slim volume promoting the work of several Haitian artists, the text
repeats assessments made in The Miracle of Haitian Art (above)
with appreciations of a handful of newer artists.
—— & Carole Cleaver, Spirits of the Night: the Vaudun Gods of
Haiti. Dallas: Spring Publications, 1992.
Martin Ros. Night of Fire: The Black Napoleon and the Battle for
Haiti. New York: Sarpedon, 1994.
Another, brief account of the Haitian
Revolution, nicely done.
Masterpieces of Haitian Art: Seven Decades of Unique Visual Heritage.
Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2013.
Lavishly illustrated and well-written
the Haitian art publication of the
Russell's book covers paintings;
vodou flags; metal, papier-maché, and
wood sculptures; and 'mixed-media constructions.' About two-thirds of
the book is given to paintings; and while it includes a few works by the
greatest artists, works that might justly be called 'masterpieces,' most
of the paintings are by minor artists and are far from masterpieces.
Still the book is a 'must' for the library of any serious Haitian art
John Scofield, 'Haiti – West Africa in the West Indies.' National
Geographic, February 1961.
A Geographic travelogue, this
issue includes a fascinating glimpse of the painting
of the famous Episcopal
Cathedral murals whilst some of them were still being painted.
Bob Shacochis, The Immaculate Invasion. New York: Viking, 1999.
A marvelous account of the 1994 U S
effort to restore President Bertrand Aristide — of its prelude, its
realities, its success — and its ultimate futility.
'Madame Shishi,' Les Naïfs Haïtiennes. Victoria, Australia:
Ute Stebich, Haïtian Art: The Naïve Tradition. New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art,
——, Kunst aus Haiti. New–Ulm, Germany: International Primary
——, A Haitian Celebration: Art and Culture. Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
Milwaukee Art Museum, 1992.
For Haitian art lovers, all of Stebich's
books are indispensable — among the best works ever published on the
The two issued in the U S derive
from exhibits held by the sponsoring museums; the later two are lavishly illustrated; all feature incisive commentary by Stebich (Kunst
is in German only).
Amy Wilentz, The Rainy Season: Haiti since Duvalier. New York:
Simon & Schuster, 1989.
By a New Yorker writer, an
account of the first violent years after Baby Doc's overthrow. Wilent is uncritically adulatory of Father Bertrand Aristide; but she perceived
early on that the charismatic Roman Catholic priest was likely to become
Haiti's leader. She may be forgiven for not foreseeing that he would
also become money–grubbing and dictatorial — or that he was not
competent to run the country. Her account of the first post–Duvalier
years is nevertheless engrossing; and her enthusiasm for Aristide may
help outsiders appreciate the little priest's appeal to his countrymen.
Lawrence Witchel, 'Haitian self-taughts: From Art
Form to Souvenirs.' New
York Times, 8 Sept 74.
A critical article that praises
the 'early masters' but suggests nearly all artists working in Haïti in
the mid–1970s were producers of kitsch — of 'souvenirs.' Witchel's
opinion says more about what the writer visited and saw than about the
state of Haitian art at the time.
Peter Wynn, Americas. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.
The best overall survey I'd yet
seen of the history and current condition of the Americas. It includes
an interesting chapter on the existing and prospective effects of Latin
American immigration into the United States. Haïti and the Caribbean are
fairly well covered; but the book omits any mention of Canada — as if
our northern neighbor is not even part of the Americas.
John W Vandercook, Black Majesty: The Life of Christophe, King of
Haiti. New York: Harper & Bros., 1928.
Meant for children — and especially
African–American children — this is a sympathetic account of the life of one of Haiti's most interesting
and controversial heroes.