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Letter of Introduction from the President of the Cisneros Capital Group (CCG) Art Collection

 
It was December 1999, a new century was at hand. My brother, cousins and I were in our late twenties and early thirties. We were sitting in the board room discussing ways we could honor our family and the Latin American culture that had brought so much happiness and stability to our lives. We decided that continuing the family tradition of supporting Latin American art would be one positive example to set for our own children. Our aunts Ella Fontanals-Cisneros and Patricia Phelps de Cisneros had been patrons of Latin American art for over 40 years, and we believed it would be a great tradition to continue and add on to.

In January 2000, the Cisneros Capital Group (CCG) Art Collection was created.  We decided to focus on contemporary / living artists. If they had one thing in common, it was that they were all masters of their craft. Some of the artists that we began collecting were Francisco Toledo (Mexico),  Pedro Pablo Oliva (Cuba), Jesus Rafael Soto (Venezuela), Tomas Sanchez (Cuba), Jimenez Deredia (Costa Rica), Rual Diaz (Argentina), Philippe Dodard (Haiti), Arnaldo Roche Rabell (Puerto Rico) and Fernando Botero (Columbia).

By January 2002, the collection was becoming well rounded. But we had a desire to do more, to expand it in some new way. The board decided that as we continued collecting we would find one artist that we could really get behind and grow with.  One artist who could travel around the world as a representative of the best of Latin American art. One artist that we could assist in becoming world renown. And as he or she would grow in stature, so too would the stature of Latin American art.  We gave ourselves two years to find this person.

His/her work had to be loved, enjoyed and respected by all, from children to art critics alike. This person had to have studied in the best art schools that Latin America had to offer. This person had to be both technically and figuratively superior in his/her art form. We estimated that this person would be in our relative age group, approximately 30 to 40 years of age and would live another 40 - 50 years or more. He/she had to be energetic, charismatic and a workaholic because art was in their blood. This person had to have a strong family foundation that would provide stability in his/her life. This person had to be driven to be the absolute best in his/her craft. This person had to be a perfectionist, where not one art piece would ever leave his/her studio unless it was absolutely ready for the history books. This person would have a life partner that would, on a daily basis, be dedicated and supportive of his/her work. This person had to have his feet firmly planted on the ground and yet also be a visionary. This person had to understand and be fully respectful that he would also be representing not only the Cisneros name to the world but also that he/she would be representing Latin American art to the world. This person literally had to know that he/she was put on this planet by God to offer us the best that human art and creativity represents.

By June 2003, we had met many good and even a few very good candidates, but we had yet to meet ‘the one.’ We had all been blessed to grow up in families that collected art, that knew artists, that conversed and experienced life with them. We had all been blessed with a great education and an eye for art. We had an excellent base to find the person we were looking for. We knew that we had yet to find him/her, but we also felt that this person did exist.

For three months prior to June 2003, my brother Roberto Blanchard Cisneros’ mother-in-law, Daisy Delgado had been insisting that I meet this artist - Carlos Luna. Due to my busy schedule, I put aside her request. But if anyone out there knows Cuban mother-in-laws, well let’s just say that they are very persistent! So in June 2003, I relented and went with her for a visit to the Luna home.  Before meeting him, I was aware that he was born and trained in Cuba. I was excited because I had the highest respect for the way that Cuba trained and educated their artists. And Carlos had started in 1980, at age 11, at the School of Visual Arts (Ecuela Provincial de Artes Plasticas) in Pinal del Rio. At the age of 15, he entered The National School of Arts (Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas ENAP) in Havana. And at 18, he entered Visual Arts College (Instituto Superior de Arte) in Havana where he graduated in 1991 at the age of 22. I was also impressed that he had had his first two solo exhibits in Cuba at the age of 17; his first solo exhibit outside of Cuba at the age of 23; his first solo exhibit in the USA at the age of 24; and his first solo museum show outside of Cuba at the age of 26. He was definitely a prodigy and many people before me had seen this.

I walked into his house and was immediately stunned by his work, the details, the layering, the coloring, the powerful lines and structure. I had seen his work on paper but never in person. Immediately, I could tell that it would take at least a month to finish one painting. I could see the great love that was put into the work and that now emanated from the work. I could see the painstaking detail that went into every piece. From the way he prepared the canvas, to the way he finished protecting the end product, every level was meticulously planned. The backgrounds of the pieces were brilliantly layered and could be considered art in and of themselves, let alone with the images that were placed on them. The paintings were figurative in nature, but at closer view there were modern and abstract aspects, techniques and structures within the figurative landscape. The work, the consistency from piece to piece, was the best I had ever seen. But now I needed to learn about the man and his family. Could the man and his family, his psychological and spiritual makeup, could that possibly equal his work?

Both Carlos and his wife Claudia were as charismatic as they come. They had met and married in Mexico ten years earlier, and had three wonderful children. Claudia, born and raised in Mexico, prepared the best Mexican meal I had ever experienced. I could tell that although Carlos was the sail of the ship, Claudia was the mast that held up the sail. She was the perfect partner of an artist, a woman who understood the business of the art world, who took care of her husband not only emotional and physically but also kept him focused by taking care of the details outside of the creative process. As Carlos was a perfectionist in his art form, Claudia was a perfectionist taking care of her husband, her family, and his work. I left that same day knowing I had found ‘the one.’

Monday morning came, and my brother and the cousins were in the board meeting. Everyone was a bit tired from the weekend’s activities. I could tell the energy of the room was low. I then stood up and started my presentation with the following sentence: “I want you all to imagine, what if we had met Pablo Picasso at age 33? (I paused for effect.) I now have absolute knowledge of one thing… (I then paused again for effect.) We have found our Picasso!” Immediately, the energy in the room shifted way up and all were listening intently to my every word. We all agreed that we would take six months to analyze Carlos’ professionalism, family structure and support system. In June 2003, we gave Carlos a commission for a large piece which became ‘Es Momento de que Hablemos.’ He, his work, family and professionalism exceeded all of our expectations, and in January of 2004 we commissioned eight other pieces. By January 2009, we were grateful to own around 45 pieces from oil on canvas, to Amate paper, to sculptures.

Soon after CCG began working with Carlos Luna, we were greatly surprised and truly blessed that one of Latin America’s best known experts and collectors - Ramon Osuna, independently found Carlos Luna, also fell in love with the work, and joined with us in the effort to promote Carlos Luna’s work. Ramon Osuna, and his father beforehand, had been art collectors even before the Cisneros Family began collecting. The Osuna’s were literally one of the pioneers, founders of Latin American art collecting, and we were indeed greatly blessed that he saw what we saw in Carlos. He has been extremely helpful in opening doors to museums, city cultural centers, and university institutions not only in the USA but also now in Europe and Asia. And the Luna and Cisneros family are eternally grateful for his knowledge, wisdom, dedication and effort!

In 2005, we achieved our first showing of Carlos’ work in an American museum. From 2005 – 2009, the CCG Carlos Luna Art Collection, along with pieces owned by the artist and some other dedicated Luna Collectors had appeared in six museums in the USA and three city cultural centers. All this before Carlos turned 40 years of age. Never in the history of Latin American art, has a Latin American artist been shown in six American museum solo shows before the age of 40! And we as a family are very proud of that, the American curators are taking more notice and a deeper interest in Latin American art and artists. In 2009, we were blessed by the Museum of Art \ Fort Lauderdale deciding to show the CCG Carlos Luna Art Collection along with their collection of Picasso Ceramics. We are deeply thankful to Irvin M. Lippman, Executive Director of the Museum of Art \ Fort Lauderdale and to Annegreth Nill, Chief Curator, for their vision, work ethic and dedication to the birth and creation of this project. As a family, we were also extremely proud of that accomplishment and felt we had come full circle, from a short speech to my brother and cousins to actually being shown along with Pablo Picasso, in just six short years.

As a ‘Capital Group’ we are also acutely aware that there is a business and financial aspect to the art we are now collecting for ourselves, our children and our future grandchildren. We are thankful that Sotheby’s has accepted Carlos Luna works every year since 2005. All members of our group wish to thank Sothebys’ Carmen Melian, Head of Department, Senior Vice President and Axel Stein, Vice President, for allowing Carlos Luna into their sacred space, recognized by art collectors around the world as the most respected auction house. Each year, all lots have sold on or above Sotheby’s estimates. For us, not only as a capital group, but as a family, it's important to let those who choose to purchase works of Carlos Luna, that the Cisneros Family name stands behind and supports the Luna name, and those who purchase a work will not only have a top quality work of Latin American art in their homes, but also a great investment that they, their children and grandchildren will forever thank them for having such vision and wisdom.

The purpose of this website is to give museums, city cultural centers and university institutions a virtual up-close look at Carlos Luna’s work. All of the work presented on this website is available to them for one man shows, or they may also choose a few paintings for group shows in their respective institutions. We make it easy for these institutions to bring an exhibit to their institutions. As an institution, you don’t have to go to 20 or 30 different collectors and beg to borrow their art, and hope they can part from their art for 4 - 6 months. No, unless they are being shown in another institution, all of the pieces on the CCG Carlos Luna Art Collection website are always available from one collector. Also the artist has his own collection that can also be added and is available for any Luna exhibit. The CCG Art Collection charges no fees to any institutions that desire to exhibit the work. Most paintings on this site have their own boxes and are ready to ship. Simply put, it is as easy, trouble-free and cost effective as it gets in this industry to put on a Carlos Luna exhibit!

And so in conclusion, we are proud to say that our goal of continuing our family’s 40 plus year tradition of supporting Latin American art is well on its way. And we promise to keep working as hard and diligently as possible to show that Latin American art is on par with the great art from around the world. We are now opening the doors in Europe and Asia to future exhibits of the CCG Art Collection, and we graciously and respectfully invite all museums, city cultural centers and university institutions to join our efforts in displaying to the planet the greatness of Latin American art!

Sincerely,

James Blanchard Cisneros

President

Cisneros Capital Group (CCG) Art Collection

 

The Cisneros Capital Group (CCG) Art Collection is a private art collection - primarily made up of Latin American paintings. We are pleased to present paintings, sculptures and drawings by Carlos Luna, an outstanding Cuban painter and sculptor.

 

The CCG Carlos Luna Art Collection is being presented online so that more people can enjoy these great paintings. If you work for a Museum, City Cultural Center, or University Institution and are interested in an exhibition of Carlos Luna, please contact us.

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