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 had become 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 such as Antoine Bourdelle and Aristide Maillol, Sicre taught him modelling and direct carving, which he continued to work on 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 he has been living and working in Meudon-Bellevue, south of Paris. During these years he travelled through Canada, Austria, Japan, Israel, Korea and, above all, Italy, – in Carrara he chiselled in marble and in Pietrasanta he casted his sculptures in bronze-. Between 1994 and 2001 he returns to Cuba to live in Havana, where he dies in 2001. Cárdenas is considered one of the forerunners of modern abstract sculpture, on a par with Brancusi and Arp.