Promising Paradise: Cuban Allure, American Seduction
Available in 2017
Through photographs, posters, and promotional ephemera, Promising Paradise: Cuban Allure, American Seduction revisits the past relationship between the United States and Cuba that left lasting traces in both nations. In the first half of the twentieth century, American marketers, mobsters, and developers and Cuban artists, performers, and graphic designers jointly shaped the island’s reputation as a dreamy tropical escape. Publicity campaigns and Hollywood films touted Cuba’s promises of indulgence—rum and cigars, rumba and mambo, and legalized drinking and gambling—all before travel restrictions curbed the two countries’ tourist trade. From the Prohibition era of the 1920s through the postwar tourism boom of the 1950s, the exhibition traces how wealthy Americans and celebrities were lured to the exotic nightclubs, casinos, and cabarets of Cuba—creating a flood of tourism, a perception of glamor, and a craze for Latin music and dance in the United States.