Ямайка, in particular its capital Kingston, can today be considered one of the centers of Caribbean art; his artistic activity had a huge development especially after 1962, the year of independence achieved.
The origins of this artistic heritage can be traced back to the pre-Columbian era, proof of this are the engravings left by the Arawaks, the first inhabitants of the island, on the walls of numerous caves scattered throughout Jamaica and still visible.
Before the 30s the art was neglected rather than encouraged; it was considered more a hobby than a real profession, making artists’ life prospects difficult.
Edna Manley, wife of Norman Manley, has a fundamental role in the artistic development of the beginning of the 20th century: it is thanks to her that Jamaican art begins to free itself from European aesthetic standards and to find its own original dimension.
She was a central figure in the Jamaican art world both for her work and for supporting local artists, including the so-called “intuitive”, linked above all to local themes.
There is no collective style that can define the work of Jamaican artists: there are a variety of styles, ways and forms ranging from the academic, to the self-taught (or intuitive), to the Impressionist, to the social-realist, mixing European influences and Americans with African techniques, colors and shapes.
In addition to Edna Manley, painter and sculptor, other important figures for the Jamaican art movement are Albert Huie, Cecil Baugh, Kapo and Alvin Marriott.
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