“We’re not art curators, we are not art critics, we are not art historians, we are simply art collectors.”
Collecting, as an act, is an adventure that obsesses its lovers. The collector is passionate about his object of desire, which he owns and protects it with his intrinsic strength. Often that is his life and art does not escape to this appetite.
Howard and Patricia Farber are two American collectors eager to profess their love for creating art for over forty years. And last Thursday afternoon they exhibited a sample on the Photographic Library of Cuba to give away the public their professional knowledge and life experiences. They talked about their fortunes, lucky breaks and their misfortunes. They shared their obsession, but most of all they showed their human value, their love for artistic creation and Cuban culture.
For those who, in 1972, were introduced to collecting by chance, as if fate knew it had in them the figures of two prophets, the contemporary Cuban art has been one of their main interests. Seduced by the creation of the island during their chance visit in 2001, they have not been able to stop collecting its works and, in just over a decade, their collection exceeds 200 pieces, including names like Belkis Ayón, Abel Barroso, Tania Bruguera, Los Carpinteros, Sandra Ramos, Duvier del Dago, Carlos Garaicoa, René Peña and Rocío García.
“We wanted to find the best examples of each work, each artist, trying to capture movement or trend that was emerging” – Howard Farber says. That is how the pioneers of new poetics appreciation arising were focused then in Cuban art of the 1980s and 1990s, although now they are interested in the pieces by younger artists who have something to contribute.
The Farbers, as we might call them, are not considered curators, critics or historians, they are simply collectors. But their work in this area goes beyond the mere grouping of objects in order to guard them until the end of their days. Howard and Patricia Farber create, in turn, a new scenario for Cuban art in an international market. They are promoters, diffusers, and teachers we could say, as their “hobby” is enriched in their quest to prove, raise awareness and recognize the value of Cuban artistic production in and outside the margins of its territory.
Could they at some point, as happened in the past with the American modern and Chinese contemporary art, stop collecting Cuban art? They do not believe it. In their acquired wisdom they have come to the conclusion that the artistic production of the island is a production that defies conventions and is constantly renewed, both in themes and discourses, which happens when there is an idea to convey and not a person to please.
The universality of this art has found its Achilles heel in the Farbers. “At one point we discovered that our commitment to Cuban art and culture went far beyond collecting. We wanted to help to spread the word or knowledge about this culture. “And the fact is that a need to love the ability of our artists, anywhere in the world, to address human, social, cultural, political and artistic issues with a local message, as well as universal, has born in them.
Thus the Farber Foundation was born, which has so far undertaken numerous initiatives to facilitate knowledge about Cuban culture and art in the world. Cuba Avant-Garde transitory exhibition, the Cuban Art News website and their latest creation, the Cuban Art Award are examples of their prophetic work and commitment.
“We want to help the Cuban contemporary art to continue achieving greater global recognition and look forward to being part of this.” That’s the way Howard and Patricia Farber, sui generis collectors, say goodbye. They do not know what the future holds, but rely on a better one. They believe in a market in which the “obscurantism” of Cuban art to be illuminated as well as the emergence of more masterpieces. They bet for youth, and encourage them. They have become a bridge between Cuba and the world by the rise of a culture with which they fell in love one day and is now part of their lives.