This thing of not knowing my origin, where I come from, what I am, where I want to go… all this also drove me to leave. In Paris I discovered what a man is… what African culture is… what a black man is.
Agustín Cárdenas was born in 1927 in Matanzas, a sugar port a few miles away from Havana, Cuba. Like any other artist of his generation, including Joachin Ferrer, Fayad Jamis, and Roberto Altmann, Cárdenas spent the first part of his career as an artist in Paris.
Previously, Cárdenas became familiar with the techniques of sculpture at the National School of Fine Arts, in Havana, with professor and sculptor Juan José Sicre. Influenced by the work of French artists Antoine Bourdelle, Aristide Maillol, or Sicre, taught him modelling and direct carving. he continued to work with these techniques throughout his career. Agustín Cárdenas graduated in 1949, left Cuba in 1955 and moved to France, where André Breton, the leader of the Surrealist group received him warmly in the cultural circle of Paris. He participated in the group’s great exhibitions in the sixties.
Since 1968, Cárdenas lived and worked in Meudon-Bellevue, at the south of Paris. During these years he travelled to Canada, Austria, Japan, Israel, Korea and, above all, Italy (in Carrara he focused in chiselled in marble and in Pietrasanta he casted sculptures in bronze). Between 1994 and 2001 he returned to Cuba to live in Havana, where he died in 2001. Cárdenas is considered one of the pioneers of modern abstract sculpture together with Brancusi and Arp.