|Cubanow.- Wifredo Oscar de la Concepcion Lam y Castilla was born on December 8, 1902, in Sagua la Grande, former Las Villas province, the son of Cantonese immigrant Lam Yam and Cuban Ana Serafina Castilla.
In 1914, he made a pencil drawing of his father. Two years later, he moved to Havana with part of his family. In 1920, he enrolled in the San Alejandro Art Academy , where he received classes from professor Sulroca and met painters Leopoldo Romañach and Victor Manuel.
His progress allowed him, on June 29, 1920 , to become a member of the Association of Painters and Sculptors of Havana. He insisted on landscapes during this period. In 1923, he received a scholarship to study painting in Spain .
In 1926, his father died and in 1929, he married Eva Piriz. The following year, his son Wifredo was born. In 1931, his wife and son died of tuberculosis.
In 1936, he took part in demonstrations in favor of the Spanish Republic . He struck up a friendship with Cuban intellectuals Alejo Carpentier, Pablo de la Torriente Brau, Nicolas Guillen and Juan Marinello. Between 1937 and 1938, he joined the defense of Madrid . During the bombing of that city, he met German Helena Holzer (Helena Benitez), who became his wife and accompanied him until 1950.
In 1938, he arrived in Paris . There, he met Pablo Picasso and other important intellectuals established at that time in France . On June 30, 1939 , he inaugurated his first exhibit at the Pierre Gallery . Two years later, Lam decided to leave Europe and return to Cuba , stopping along several Caribbean islands.
In 1942, in Havana , he began his process of again becoming part of the country's cultural circuits, and was closely linked to many other of the island's intellectuals and artists.
At the end of that year he began the painting La jungla (The Jungle) -one of his classics- exhibited the next year in New York . He then painted La silla (The Chair).
From that moment on, he made several works and exhibits that would attract the attention of Cuban and foreign critics. He was included in the exhibit Five Great Painters: Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Lam, Matta, in New York 's Museum of Modern Art .
From 1947 to 1952, he traveled frequently between Cuba , France , and the United States . He also visited Italy and Great Britain . He exhibited in London and he was part of the International Exhibit of Surrealism in Paris .
In 1950, he traveled to New York and took part in the 20th Century Young Masters exhibit . Two years later, he settled in Paris . In 1954, with the inclusion of his work Umbral ( Threshold ), Lam began his regular attendance to the Halls of May in Paris until 1969.
He traveled regularly to Cuba and other American countries. He was gradually recognized in the United States . In 1960, he married Lou Laurin in New York . His sons Eskil and Timour were born during the two following years.
In 1963, he returned to Cuba , on a government invitation. In 1966, he painted El Tercer Mundo ( The Third World ) in the National Museum of Fine Arts. A year later, he actively participated in the organization of the Hall of May, which moved from Paris to Havana .
In 1969, his son Jonas was born. That same year, he took part in the exhibit Dada, Surrealism and their Heritage , in New York 's Museum of Modern Art .
Since 1970, when Michel Leiris published the first great monograph dedicated to his work, he became the focus of studies, books and films.
In 1978, he became ill.
In 1981, Cuba ’s Council of State and Ministry of Culture granted him the Felix Varela Order (First Grade) for his contribution to Cuban and universal culture.
He died on September 11, 1982 , in Paris . His ashes were transferred to Havana in December of that year, at his request. His remains rest in Havana ’s Colon Cemetery .
On February 20, 1983 , by decree of Cuba ’s Council of Ministers, the Wifredo Lam Center was created as posthumous homage to the artist, considered the most universal of Cuban painters.