Cuban Art in the 20th Century. Modern Cuban art emerged in Havana in 1927 and matured during the next two decades. Its inception is mainly defined by a rupture with academic art, the appropriation of European avant-garde formal inventions, and the subjective symbolization of national ethos. In the 1940s a new generation of artists expanded their artistic sources to include popular art and explored new symbols of collective identity. By the 1950s a third generation of modernist artists abandoned figuration, the representation of Cuban themes, and turned to abstraction and introspection.