Florencio Gelabert

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Florencio Gelabert
(Caibarién, 1904 – Havana, 1995)

1904- Born in Caibarién on February 23, 1904.
l909-1916- Studies in different primary schools in his hometown. His family moves to a house near the sea, which allows him to come into contact with marine wildlife and the different shipyards of the area. During those years he becomes notably proficient in drawing and modelling in clay.
1916- Begins to work in an iron and bronze foundry. He also begins to study music (trombone) in his leisure time, with maestro José Ma. Montalván.
1920- He burns his leg with bronze and quits his job at the foundry. Plays the trombone in the Caibarién music band.
1921- Begins to do construction work as a mason apprentice.
1928- Working as a mason he applied for a scholarship, through a competitive examination, to study in the San Alejandro Visual Arts School, in Havana, which he obtained with ease. He moves to Havana.
1929- When the subsidy of the scholarship decreased, he begins to work as a musician in different Havana night clubs. He works on sculpturing to participate in competitions and expositions of this kind of artistic expression.
1931- He wins First Prize in Decorative Modelling in the 1931-32 course.
1932- Begins to play the trombone in the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Amadeo Roldán. On Weekends, he goes to Caibarién to play in the recently founded Concert Orchestra conducted by Alejandro García Caturla.
1933- Participates in the 16th Visual Arts Circle Exhibit. Makes a bust of teacher Ramón Rosainz in Public School no. 3.
1934- Graduates from San Alejandro School.
1935- Participates with his work Pudor (Shyness) in the National Painting and Sculpture Exposition organized by the Ministry of Educación.
1936 - Participates in the 28th Exhibit of the Visual Arts Circle. He wins by competitive examinations the post of teacher of Geometric Drawing in the recently founded School Attached to San Alejandro. He is appointed delegate secretary of that center, a position he holds for many years.
1937 - Participates in the 20th National Painting and Sculpture Exposition. Obtains the Bronze Medal of the 19th Visual Arts Circle Exhibit with his work Afinidad (Affinity).
1938- Participates in the 20th Visual Arts Circle Exhibit with his work Cabeza (Head), made in bronze. He participates in the 2nd National Painting and Sculpture Exposition organized by the Ministry of Cultura. Between May and October he travels through France, Italy and Belgium. On his return from Europe, he resigns his job in the philharmonic orchestra to devote himself entirely to visual arts.
1939- He presents his first wood carving, La beata (The Overpious Woman), in the 1st National Cuban Art Congress, organized by the Visual Arts Circle, 1938. He wins the silver medal in the 19th Visual Arts Circle Exhibit for his work Torso done in artificial rock.
1940- Travels through the United States, where he is impressed by the integration of visual arts with architecture. When he returns, he obtains the Bronze Medal for a relief done in stone at the 22nd Visual Arts Circle Exhibit.
1941 - Begins to study pedagogy in the University of Havana.
1942 - Participates in the collective expositions, Council of Cuban Visual Arts, in the exposition Modern and Classical Art organized by the Havana City Hall and in the Collectiva Ceramics Exposition of the Visual Arts Circle.
1943- Wins the Nicolás Pérez Reventós Honorary First Prize in the University of Havana, for the subject Modelling with his methodology. Participates in the First Visual Arts Exposition of the Miramar Yacht Club.
1944- Participates in the 19th Municipal Painting and Sculpture Exposition in the First Cuban Arts and Letters Exhibit “Juan Bautista Vermay”, in the sales exposition in benefit of the Red Cross organized by the National Visual Ars Society and in the sales exposition organized by the Visual Arts Council.
1945- Finishes his pedagogy studies in the specialty of drawing, University of Havana. Obtains a Bronze Medal in the National Fine Arts Association for his work Criolla (Cróele Woman), done in Jocuma. He makes the bronze friezes of the Veterans Pantheon in the Cementerio de Colón (Columbus Cemetery). Presents his work Maternity in the National Fine Arts Association.
1946- During a year of sabbatical leave, he travels to Mexico where he works enthusiastically and learns the technique of lost wax. In December of that year he holds his first personal exposition in that country in the Palace of Fine Arts of Mexico City, which was greatly praised by the critics and the public at large. He returns to Cuba in late December.
1947- He returns to his teaching job in the School Attached to San Alejandro. Holds his second personal exposition in the Lyceum Exhibits, from September 1st to 10th. He makes a bronze bust of Colonel María Escobar Laredo for Parque Libertad (Liberty Park), in Caibarién.
1948- Makes a marble bust of José María Aguayo to place on Avenida de Martí (Martí Avenue) in Caibarién.
1949- Participates in the 31st Visual Arts Circle Exhibit.
1950- Presenta 16 sculptures en la University Fine Arts Society.
Participates in the 15th Painting, Sculpture and Engraving Exposition held in the Centro Asturiano (Asturian Center).
1951- Participates in a sculpture exposition in the Matanzas Gallery and in the 5th National Painting, Sculpture and Engraving Exhibit. He makes in Bayamo a monument of Jaimanita stone and bronze that holds the remains of José Joaquín Palma.
1953- Participates in the 6th National Painting and Sculpture Exhibit held in the National Capitol Building, in the Painting and Sculpture Exposition held in the Retiro Odontológico and in painting and sculpture exposition of the Visual Arts Circle. Holds his thirs personal exposition in the Matanzas Gallery. Makes the monument to General Quintín Bandera in the Trillo Park and a commemorative plaque in the house where he died, both in Havana.
1954- He holds his fourth personal exposition, in Santiago de Cuba and his fifth in the La Rampa Gallery in Havana. Wins the National First Prize in Sculpture in the 2nd Spanish American Art Biennial, for his work Ritmo (Rhythm).
1955- Holds an itinerant personal exposition, with venues in libraries, on the occasion of the 29th Book Fair. Participates in the Exposition Cuba in Tampa.

1956 - Participates in the International Exposition held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
1957- Holds his sixth personal exposition in the Exhibits of the Palace of Fine Arts, Havana. He makes six works to place in the Habana Riviera Hotel and a bust of Antonio Maceo to place in the park of the town of Consolación del Sur, Pinar del Río.
1959- He is appointed principal of the San Alejandro School and the School attached to it by the then Minister of Education, Doctor Armando Hart;. Participates n the 5th Sculpture Exposition organized by the Visual Arts Circle. Exhbits a fountain made directly in concrete in the gardens of the capitol building.
1960- Makes the fountain La velocidad (Speed) directly in concrete in the gardens of the Bus Terminal and a fountain with other four works at the Hotel Atlántico en Santa María del Mar Beach. He makes several interior and exterior reliefs and a figure to place in the Volks Wagon Agency in Avenida de Rancho Boyeros.
1961- Makes a bust of Fructuoso Rodríguez to place in the School of Agronomy of the University of Havana, a bust of José Martí in the Havana Bus Terminal, one of Camilo Cienfuegos and another of Frank País in Lawton, a busto of Mario Fortuny in the public school of that name.

1962 -Wins a gold medal in the Sculpture Exposition held in the Visual Arts Circle for his work Sirenas (Mermaids), direct carving on dagame wood. He retires form his teaching at the San Alejandro School.
1963 –Works by contract on the decoration of pre-fab façades, a project of the Ministry of Construction, where he makes a relief directly on concrete and holds his seventh personal exposition. Holds his eighth personal exposition in the Exhbits of the Ministry of Industry.
1966 -Makes a two-meter high sculpture directly in concrete and places it in the Ice Cream Parlor of Santa Catalina and Primelles, also a twenty-meter long mural made with wate material.
1967 -Makes a mosaic mural in the Workers Social Club “Félix Elmuza”.
1969 - Holds a drawing exposition —biological allegories— en la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la University of Havana.
1970 -Holds his ninth personal exposition in the Gallery of the Ministry of Public Health, where he also participates in a collective exposition.
1971- Holds his tenth personal exposition, in the Santa Clara National Culture Council.
1972 -Holds his eleventh personal exposition, in the Exhibits of Revista Bohemia. Rebuilt with a new design the decoration of the dome of the Habana Riviera Hotel.
1975 -Holds his twelfth personal exposition in the Exhibits of Radio Liberación.
1976 -Participates in the National Painting and Sculpture Exhibit organized by the Matanzas National Culture Council.
1977 -Participates in a sculpture collective exposition in the “L” Gallery of the University of Havana.
1978 -Participates in a collective exposition, in the International Gallery.
1979 -Holds his thirteenth personal exposition in the International Gallery.
1981 -Holds his fourteenth personal exposition in the haoos of the Ministry of the Interior, The fifteenth in the House of Culture of the Cerro Municipality, the sixteenth in the Institute of Physical Culture and Sports “Comandante Fajardo”. Participates in the Exposición de Pequeño Formato (Small Format Exposition) whre he obtains a mention for his work Figura (Figure), made in marble. Participates in the collective expositions organized by the ICAP, where he donates a piece to Nicaragua. It is organized by the Municipal Department of Culture of Havana Vieja and sent through the Fondo de Bienes Culturales (Cultural Assets Fund) to Suriname, Panama and Mexico. Receives the National Culture Distinction medal, awarde by the Council of Stateof the Republic of Cuba.
1982 -Holds his seventeenth personal exposition in homage to the Second Congress of the Writers And Artists Association of Cuba (UNEAC) in the 23 and 12 Art Center of Vedado and the eighteenth in the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical Institute. He makes a sculpture directly in concrete and places it in the Sierra Maestra Hotel in Bayamo. Participates in the National Exhibit of the Writers And Artists Association of Cuba (UNEAC), in the collective sculpture expositionde held in the Pabellón Cuba; in the Sculpture Exposition held in the Lenin Park and in the collective expositions of the House of Culture of the Plaza Municipality and in the Provincial Visual Arts and Design Center. Receives the Raúl Gómez García medal at the Writers And Artists Association of Cuba (UNEAC).

1983 –Holds his nineteenth personal exposition in the Exhibits of Revista Bohemia; where he is given a diploma for his cooperation with the magazine. He makes and places his work Cangrejo (Crab) in the Caibarién Park and a fountain and a relief in the Habana Riviera Hotel. Participates in a collective exposition orgasnized by the Fondo de Bienes Culturales (Cultural Assets Fund). Participates as a guest and jury in the commemorative exposition of the fourhundred and sixtyfifth Anniversary of the City of Havana. Participatees in the Exposition Sculpture in the Revolution held in the National Museum of Fine Arts.
1984 - Retrospective exposition of Florencio Gelabert in homage to his 80th birthday. National Museum of Fine Arts.
1995- He dies on August 30, 1995.