Arts and Crafts

Roadside art galleries are everywhere in Haiti

Art is in the Soul
Everywhere one looks in Haiti there is art and color. Public transport is served by elaborately painted trucks, vans and mini-buses known as taptaps. Signs are often virtual works of art. Numerous sidewalk galleries display dozens, sometimes hundreds, of paintings for sale. Middle class homes are full of art and in the countryside the homes of peasants reflect their love of color. City streets glow with overhanging bougainvilleas. Even cemeteries bloom with brightly painted headstones and crypts. Beyond the graphic arts there is sculpture, woodcarving, pottery, basketry and finely rendered hammered metalwork.

In the early 1940's a young American professor, Dewitt Peters, fell under the spell of Haiti. Enchanted by the vitality and freshness of the naive painting he discovered he founded the Centre d'Art to encourage and promote Haitian art. Very rapidly the Centre d'Art drew collectors worldwide. For many years Dewitt Peters passion for naive painting kept the focus of attention on that style but in recent years a younger generation of painters has emerged with grace into the world of contemporary art. Now several of them deserve to keep company with the great Latin American artists. Haitian painting is represented in the great museums of Europe, the United States, and famous private collections.

A visit to Haiti could be the start of a personal adventure in art. In Haiti art is abundant and inexpensive. Most of the street-side stuff is of course derivative and will never be considered great but it's fun and very affordable. There is also always a new generation coming on and here and there on the street-side is undoubtedly early work that will one day be recognized as truly great. If you at all serious about acquiring good Haitian art however, it is necessary to visit the commercial galleries. These dealers make it their job to know about Haitian art and to develop long term, often exclusive, relationships with the best artists. Works by the best known artists are naturally expensive but high quality work by younger artists, not yet internationally known are quite affordable.

A Mini-Gallery of Haitian Art

Haiti Main Page