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Havana Houses Through the lens of Photographer Michael Eastman

Jewish House Kitchen photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

During the month of May Paint + Pattern is sharing stories and projects inspired by the vibrant countries of Latin America. For this post in particular, the island of Cuba evokes an aura of mystery to many of us who know little about its history.

the exquisite essence of Eastman’s images reveals the contrast of the past colonial site of wealth, power and pleasure set against the present post-colonial location of poverty, disenfranchisement and malaise.” ~Christina Alegria

Portrait in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Isabella's 2 Chairs photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

International American photographer Michael Eastman has spent decades capturing scenes of the “faded elegance” of Havana for us to savor. His photographs feature stunning palatial-looking interiors that appear to crumble before our eyes. His chosen chambers showcase and embrace the neglect of time.

Isabella's Mirror photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Green Living Room in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Library in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Green Hallway in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Always unoccupied, these rooms speak of the inhabitants through their tattered chairs and dusty fixtures. One expects a family member to wander in and choose a book to read or a playful dog running across the sumptuous tiled floor to fetch a ball. The color is rich and strong: dusky hues pull the eye into the room, almost transporting the viewer into old Havana.

Red Couch in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

A Class Room in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Sixteenth-century Spanish conquistadors, treasure-laden Galleons, and ancient forts we recall from history lessons can all be found in his magnificent portfolio. These haunting photographic images depict life in the past hundred years or so through Eastman’s painterly (and self-taught) photographic eye. Surface, patina and color are his fascination, combined with his statement of his habit of “getting in front of things and looking at them straight on.”

Blue Archway Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Havana photography by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Moorish Facade in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Born in 1947 in St. Louis, Missouri, Michael Eastman’s career jump-started after studying the works of master photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. He began by taking black and white pictures of abstract patterns on walls in what is now his signature style. Decrepit American ghost towns, expansive midwestern landscapes, Italy, Paris and New Orleans were favored locations for his works of art.

Music Room in Havana photographed by Michael Eastman | Paint + Pattern

Have you caught yourself falling into these photos? It’s OK to admit it. We have too. The texture, the colors and the tile patterns leave us wanting more. If you are inspired to create after absorbing Michael Eastman’s work, join us throughout May for our DIY stencil projects galore!

(Currently Eastman is one of the world’s leading contemporary photographic artists. Winner of multiple awards, his work is in numerous public and private collections. His publications include Havana (Prestel, 2011), Vanishing America (Rizzoli, 2008), and Horses (Knopf, 2003), which is now in its fifth edition. Eastman’s photographs have appeared in such publications as Art In America, Art News and the New York Times.)

4 comments

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