(b. Manzanillo, 1914 - d. Havana, 2002)
Julio Girona was a sculptor, painter, cartoonist, and writer. In 1932 he enrolled in the San Alejandro School of Fine Arts, where he studied sculpture with Juan José Sicre. In 1934, he went to Paris on scholarship and attended sculpture classes at the Académie Ranson, a school patronized by the elderly Aristide Maillol. In 1937, Girona went to the United States and lived in Greenwich Village. He worked as a cartoonist for La Voz (The Voice), a Spanish newspaper with its headquarters in the “Little Spain” neighborhood of the Village. In 1939 Girona returned to Cuba, where he worked as a caricaturist for the newspaper Hoy (Today). Soon he departed for Mexico City, where he worked at the Taller de Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphic Workshop), doing lithography and selling prints in their gallery. Back in New York, he attended classes with Will Barnet at the Art Students League. In 1943 Girona enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served in England, Belgium, and France for two years. After the war, he enrolled again at the Art Students League, where he studied with Morris Kantor. Part of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism and a member of “The Club” of New York artists on 8th Street, Girona had his first New York exhibition at the Artists’ Gallery on Lexington Avenue in 1954, and soon began to show with the Bertha Schaefer Gallery. Following his New York debut, he went on to exhibit in major galleries in America and Europe. In 1963, he was invited to teach Graphic Design at the Werkkunstschule in Krefeld, Germany. The first major retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana in 1986; a second retrospective was held posthumously at the Museum in 2009. As a writer, he published several books of short stories and poems, including Seis horas y más (Six Hours and More) in 1990, Música barroca (Barroque Music) in 1992, Memorias sin título (Untitled Memories) in 1994, La Corbata roja (The Red Tie) in 1998, Café frente al mar (Cafe By the Sea) in 2000, and the posthumous Páginas de mi diario (Pages of My Diary) in 2005. In 1998 he received the National Visual Art Award granted by the Cuban Ministry Of Culture for his lifetime achievements.