The subject matter was typical of Spanish art at the time and largely included still life, portraiture, and other forms of Rococo art.
With the overthrow of Spanish government in 1898, however, Cuban artists embraced the modernist movement with exceptional enthusiasm. Examples of surreal and cubist styles emerged from withing the Vanguardia movement, a group of counter-culture revolutionists. Two famous artists during this time were Eduardo Abela, whose personalized primitivism works soon became the trademark of the Vanguardia revolution, and Antonio Gattorno who challenged social convention by drawing the poor and overworked masses rather than the prominently rich.
Photographic arts also blossomed in Cuba for years, most prominently in the years before 1980. Photographs of the island's unique culture and people are common, as are political photos. One Cuban photographer, in particular, is well known for their work internationally. Alberto Korda chronicled the socialist regimes in Latin America, and even had one of his photographs become the symbol of the Marxist revolution in some of the countries that were facing socialist reform during that time.
Today, under socialist rule, many painters still embrace the modernist attitude toward art despite most of them being funded by the government. Thanks to more relaxed laws, Cuban art has been able to display its cosmopolitan heritage, and the sheer amount of diversity included in this category is astounding. Organically developed modern styles display the rhythms of life in Cuba and its heritage, while representational styles that have heavy French and Spanish influences help to depict the experience of the people living on the island.