Oil painting -> List of Painters -> Wifredo Lam

Early Days:

       Wifredo Lam was born and raised in Sagua La Grande, a village in the sugar farming province of Villa Clara, Cuba. He was of mixed ancestry: his father, Yam Lam, was a Chinese immigrant and his mother, Ana Serafina Lam, was born to a Congolese, former slave mother and a Cuban mulatto father. In Sagua La Grande, Lam was surrounded by many people of African descent; his family, like many others, practiced Catholicism alongside their African traditions. Through his godmother, Matonica Wilson, a Santeria priestess locally celebrated as a healer and sorceress, he was exposed to rites of the African orishas. His contact with African celebrations and spiritual practices proved to be his largest artistic influence.

Wifredo Oscar de la Concepcion Lam y Castilla


Personal Details


Wifredo Oscar de la Concepcion Lam y Castilla

Place of birth

Sagua La Grande, Cuba

Date of Birth

December 8, 1902

Date of Death

September 11, 1982






Guggenheim International Award

Influenced by

Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso


The Jungle. 1943. Museum of Modern Art, New York


In 1923, Lam began studying in Madrid under Fernando Alvarez De Soto mayor, the curator of the Museo Del Prado and teacher of Salvador Dali. In the mornings he would attend the studio of the reactionary painter, while he spent his evenings working alongside young, nonconformist painters. At the Prado, Lam discovered and was awed by the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel I. While his early paintings were in the modernist Spanish tradition, his work soon became more simplified and decorative.

Though Lam's dislike for academic conservatism persisted, his time in Spain marked his technical development in which he began to merge a primitive aesthetic and the traditions of Western composition. In 1929, he married Eva Piriz but both she and their young son died in 1931 of tuberculosis; it is likely that this personal tragedy contributed to the dark nature of his work.

Works Of Wifredo Lam:


Art by Lam