Haitian master Wilson Bigaud is renowned for works portraying everyday life and rites of passage—vodoo rituals, fortune-tellers, weddings, cockfights, and carnivals—with voluminous figures and lucid colors. Born in Port-au-Prince, in 1946 Bigaud was among the first to attend DeWitt Peters’s Le Centre d’Art d’Haïti, where he studied with Hector Hyppolite, called the “Grand Maître of Haitian Art.” His talents quickly became known locally and internationally. Bigaud’s landmark work, Terrestrial Paradise (1952), depicting an Edenic scene in lush colors, won second place in the Carnegie International when the artist was 21. Another painting, Murder in the Jungle (1950), was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art and featured in a 1967 survey of mid-century Latin American and Caribbean art. Bigaud also created murals commissioned by Port-au-Prince’s famed Holy Trinity Cathedral. His mental health brought his career to a halt in 1957, and although he returned to painting in the 1960s, Bigaud’s later works did not achieve the same success as his earlier paintings.
Wilson Bigaud has been an integral part of the renaissance of Haitian art. He is hailed as an innovator of the vraiment naïf genre with his paintings of pop-eyed rural folk and people with disproportionate bodies. The renowned artist Hector Hyppolite took Bigaud as an apprentice when the latter was only fifteen years old. Bigaud joined the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince in 1946 and shortly thereafter painted his masterpiece, Miracle at Cana (1950–1951), for the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
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