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Juan Roberto Diago

Juan Roberto Diago Querol

b. Havana, Cuba, 1920 – d. Madrid, Spain, 1955

Directrices (Directrices)


Oil and graphite on fiberboard

Collection of Susie and Mitchell Rice


Juan Roberto Diago Querol’s early death in his thirties cut short his rise in the Cuban modern art movement. However, his documented career spanning fifteen years and his inclusion in Modern Cuban Painters, a pivotal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1944, were more than enough to ensure his place in art history.


Diago Querol’s work was initially infused with motifs from Afro-Cuban religions. His style shifted towards a non-figurative methodology akin to the geometric abstraction in vogue among Cuban artists in the 1950s. As its title suggests, Directrices (Directrices) is a rhythmic geometrical composition of triangles and cones entwined in mutual peaks, with lines and parabolas intersecting alongside and across a horizontal axis. Yet there also exists a strong parallel between this visual framework and the pictographic systems of the “signatures,” or sacred sign languages belonging to Afro-Cuban Abakuá and Palo Monte religions. 

*This piece was included in the exhibition section titled "The Language of Forms and The Forms of Language."

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