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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dali, Salvador


Nymphs in a Romantic, Garden   
c.1921
Gouache and Oil on Cardboard
73.5 x 57.5 cm
Private collection
-Fair use-

"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing." (Dali)

Salvador Domenec Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech, Marquis de Pubol (1904-1989), commonly known as Salvador Dali , was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres, Spain. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement.

Dali was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. Dali's expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media. Dali attributed his "love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes" to a self-styled "Arab lineage", claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.

He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Eduardo Arroyo


El caballero espanol (Spanish Gentleman)
1970
oil on canvas
162 x 130.5 cm
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
-Fair use-

Eduardo Arroyo (1937-), Spanish painter, graphic artist, author and set designer born in Madrid, is today regarded as one of the most important exponents of politically committed realism.

At age 21, he left Spain to Paris where he worked as an author and journalist, because of his basic contempt for the regime of Francisco Franco (when Salvador Dali came to terms with Franco in his old age, Arroyo later described him as a "whore") and even lost his Spanish citizenship in 1974 (which he got back two years later).

Not very convinced of his own writing skills and his political judgement, he decided to devote his time to painting. He began to "tell stories in pictures" and thus occupied a special position in the Paris of the 1950s, where at that time, abstract and not representational narrative painting prevailed. He composed stereotypical figures, which represent characters from certain social classes. He often included defamiliarized quotations from famous pictures with a touch of irony. And his works came to be increasingly considered scandalous and were censored. He dared to caricature established artists such as Miro or Duchamp and this provoked further enmity and heavy criticism.

Then he returned to Spain, after Franco's death in 1976. His home country officially honored him with a major retrospective, and in 1983 he received the Great National Prize for Painting in Spain. From 1969 he occasionaly also worked as stage designer for important European productions.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

El Greco


View of Toledo
between c.1596 and 1600
oil on canvas
121.3 × 108.6 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

This painting "View of Toledo" is considered the first landscape in Spanish art history.

El Greco (1541-1614), born Domenikos Theotokopoulos, was a Greek artist whose painting and sculpture helped define the Spanish Renaissance and influence various movements to come. He is the most unusual painter in 16th-century Europe. He combined the strict Byzantine style of his homeland, Greece, with influences received during his studies in Venice and the medieval tradition of the country where he worked, Spain. El Greco (which means "The Greek") was a nickname, a reference to his national Greek origin.

He was born around 1541 in Crete, which was then part of the Republic of Venice, the center of Post-Byzantine art. In his mid-twenties, somewhere between 1560 and 1565, he traveled to Venice and studied under Titian, who was the most renowned painter of his day. Under Titian, he began mastering the fundamental aspects of Renaissance painting - e.g., perspective, constructing figures, and staging detailed narrative scenes. Then he moved to Rome from Venice, remaining from 1570 to 1576, staying initially in the palace of one of the most influential and wealthy individuals in Rome. In 1572, he joined the painters’ academy and established a studio, but he criticized Michelangelo’s artistic abilities, which likely led to him being ostracized by the Roman art establishments, and he left Rome to Madrid, at age 35.

In Madrid, he tried to secure royal patronage from King Philip II, but to no avail, so he moved on to Toledo, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life, producing his best-known paintings. His works from this period are seen as precursors of both Expressionism and Cubism. He is remembered chiefly for his elongated, tortured figures, often religious in nature, the style of which baffled his contemporaries but helped establish his reputation in the years to come. His later works are marked by exaggerated, and often distorted, figures, stretching beyond the realities of the human body. He did not have followers. He died on April 7, 1614, unappreciated in his time and his art was forgotten for 250 years.

The re-discovery of his painting was a sensation. El Greco’s effect on Picasso’s evolution is just one thread of his influence. The twisting figures and brash, unreal colors that form the very foundation of his art influenced scores of artists, from the cubists following Picasso to the German expressionists to the abstract impressionists after them. His work also inspired those outside the realm of painting, such as writers Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Goya, Francisco de


Maria Teresa de Borbon y Vallabriga, later Condesa de Chinchon (Maria Teresa Carolina)
1783
oil on canvas
134.5 x 117.5 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA

Teresa stands at the edge of the terrace of her father’s country palace near Avila, in the mountains west of Madrid. She gazes out at the viewer with an innocence very much in contrast with her adult costume and mature stance. Teresa was four and a half years old.

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), began his painting career just after the late Baroque period, is considered one of the last of the Old Masters of painting, as well as the first of the moderns who is considered to be "the Father of Modern Art".

He began his apprenticeship in painting at the age of 14, but his genius was slow in maturing and he was well into his thirties before he began producing work that set him apart from his contemporaries. In 1779, he won an appointment as a painter to the royal court and became friendly with the crown prince of Spain, spending two summers with him and his family, paintings portraits, and expanding his circle of royal patrons. He was given a salaried position as a court painter in 1786, and in 1799 was made the first court painter, painting for the king and his family, as well as the Spanish nobility.

Between the years of 1792 and 1793, he suffered from a mysterious illness, which made him deaf, and affected his mental behavior. Some current medical scientists believe that his deafness was a result of the lead in which he used in his paints, whereas others believe it may have been some sort of viral encephalitis. Either way, its effect on Goya cannot be understated. After his illness, he became withdrawn and introspective, and began painting a series of disturbing paintings on the walls of his house in Quinta del Sordo. His earlier themes of merry festivals and cartoons changed into depictions of war and corpses, representing a darkening of his mood. Whether this has more to do with the French declaration of war on Spain or some medical problem leading to mental disturbance is up to debate.

He completed some 500 oil paintings and murals, about 300 etchings and lithographs, and many hundreds of drawings. He was exceptionally versatile and his work expresses a very wide range of emotion. In his own day he was chiefly celebrated for his portraits, of which he painted more than 200; but his fame now rests equally on his other work. As such, his legacy ranges from simple portraits of the royal family to devilish portrayals of demons eating their young. His legacy also has inspired several operas, a piano suite, and a number of feature films.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Juan Carreno de Miranda


Portrait of the young Carlos II of Spain
c.1677
oil on canvas
201 x 141 cm
Harrach Collection, Schloss Rohrau, Austria

The son of Felipe IV (1605-1665) and Mariana of Austria (1634-1696), Carlos II (1661-1700) was the last King of the Hapsburg Dynasty in Spain. The scene is set at the Hall of Mirrors at Madrid's former Alcazar Palace and shows consoles held by bronze lions now at Madrid's Royal Palace and in the Prado Museum.

Juan Carreno de Miranda (1614-1685) was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period. Born in Aviles in Asturias, his family moved to Madrid in 1623, and he trained in Madrid during the late 1620s as an apprentice to Pedro de Las Cuevas and Bartolome Roman.
He came to the notice of Velazquez for his work in the cloister of Dona Maria de Aragon and in the church of El Rosario. His early work was derived from a combination of Italian and Flemish influences, notably the works of Rubens, van Dyck, and Titian.

In 1658 he was hired as an assistant on a royal commission to paint frescoes in the Alcazar of Madrid. In 1671, upon the death of Sebastian de Herrera, he was appointed court painter to the queen (pintor de camara) and began to paint primarily portraits. He refused to be knighted in the order of Santiago, saying Painting needs no honors, it can give them to the whole world.

Most of his work are portraits of the royal family and court, though there are some altarpieces, early works commissioned mainly by the church.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Asensio Julia


The Colossus
c.1818-1825
oil on canvas
116 × 105 cm
Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain

In 2008, The Colossus, a work formerly attributed to Francisco Goya, was re-attributed to Julia by specialists at the Museo del Prado. The attribution is generally but not universally accepted. Authorship disputed, Prado Museum now claims this work was authored by Asensio Julia.

Asensio Julia i Alvarracin (1760-1832) was a Spanish painter and engraver best known as a student and follower of Francisco Goya. Julia was born in Valencia and studied at the Royal Academy of San Carlos and at the Academy of San Fernando. The critics consider him Goya's only disciple.

In 1798 Goya received one of the most important commissions of his career: the decoration in fresco of the church of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid. Goya's deafness was getting worse and his health was very unstable and he got tired very easily. This is why he employed an assistant for this work. His name was Asensio Julia, although he was known as the "pescadoret" possibly because he was the son of a fisherman.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alonso Sanchez Coello


Infante Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias
c.1575 (Renaissance)
oil on canvas
58 x 46.3 cm
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, USA

Infante Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias (1571-1578) was the son of Philip II of Spain and the fourth wife Anna of Austria. He still wears a skirt, so he must be about four years old. He became seriously ill with dysentery in 1575. Slowly he recovered but then relapsed three years later and died. He was six years old.

Alonso Sanchez Coello (1531-1588) was a Spanish portrait painter, of Portuguese origin, of the Spanish Renaissance and one of the pioneers of the great tradition of Spanish portrait painting.

Near Valencia, he was born and spent his childhood, until the death of his father when he was around ten years old.
Then he was educated in Portugal at his grandfather's home. His grandfather was in the service of King John III of Portugal who sent Coello to study with Anthonis Mor in Flanders around 1550. While studying in Flanders, he also spent time copying some of Titian's works. From Mor, he learned precision in representation, and from Titian he incorporated Venetian gold tones, generous workmanship, and the use of light on a canvas. Although influenced by the paintings of both Mor and Titian, his portraits display an original talent and reflect admirably the modesty and formality of the Spanish Court.

In 1552, he went to Lisbon with Anthonis Mor when Charles V commissioned Mor to paint the Portuguese royal family. For a few years, he remained in Portugal working for the court of the heir to the throne, Joao Manuel, Prince of Portugal. After the prince's death, he moved to the Spanish court of Philip II, having been recommended by the widow of John, Juana, who was the sister of the Spanish king. In 1561 when Mor left Spain, he took Mor's place as Spanish Court Painter. Philip II of Spain held him in high esteem and was godfather to two of Coello's daughters.

He spent the remainder of his life at the court, becoming a personal favorite of the King Philip II of Spain and acquiring honours and wealth. He is regarded as the founder of the great tradition of Spanish formal portraiture. He also painted religious works, but these are much less distinguished.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Murillo, Bartolome Esteban


The two trinities (Die beiden Dreieinigkeiten)
between 1675 and 1682
oil on canvas
293 cm x 207 cm
National Gallery, London, United kingdom

Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682) was a Spanish painter, active for almost all his life in his native Seville.
He was the youngest son in a family of fourteen and his father was a barber and surgeon (his parents died when he was still very young, and he was largely brought up by his aunt and uncle).

His early career is not well documented, but he started working in a naturalistic tenebrism style, showing the influence of Francisco de Zurbaran. After making his reputation with a series of eleven paintings on the lives of Franciscan saints for the Franciscan monastery in Seville (1645-46), he displaced Zurbaran as the city's leading painter and was unrivalled in this position for the rest of his life. In 1660, he founded an academy of painting at Seville and became its first president.

He was the first Spanish painter to achieve renown throughout Europe. In addition to the enormous popularity of his works in Spain, he was much admired in other countries, particularly England. Although he is best known for his religious works, his lively, realist portraits of flower girls and beggars constitute an extensive and appealing record of the everyday life of his times. Most of his paintings are of religious subjects, appealing strongly to popular piety and illustrating the doctrines of the Counter-Reformation church, above all the Immaculate Conception, which was his favourite theme.

He died at Seville in 1682, evidently from the after-effects of a fall from scaffolding. He had many assistants and followers, and his style continued to influence Sevillian painting into the 19th century. His fame in the 18th century and early 19th century was enormous.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ramon Casas


El Garrote (Garotte vil)
1894
oil on canvas
127 × 166.2 cm
Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

This is the painting on the public execution of a prisoner by the device of garrote, held in Barcelona in 1893 and which attracted a large crowd of onlookers. Casas himself was present at the scene of this execution, but when he turned it into a painting, rather than dwell on the morbid aspects inherent in the theme, he emphasized the journalistic reportage side of the event. He reproduced with great accuracy a scene of great hardness, but avoiding social criticism and limited to capture the situation as a photographic snapshot. Between the condemned man and the waiting crowd, Casas leaves an empty space, which adds to the drama and tension hanging over the scene’s main group. This painting won a major prize in Munich in 1901. Garrote was the principal device used for capital punishment in Spain for hundreds of years.

Ramon Casas i Carbo (1866-1932), who was admired by Picasso, was a Catalan Spanish artist. Living through a turbulent time in the history of his native Barcelona, he was known as a portraitist, sketching and painting the intellectual, economic, and political elite of Barcelona, Paris, Madrid, and beyond; he was also known for his paintings of crowd scenes ranging from the audience at a bullfight to the assembly for an execution to rioters in the Barcelona streets. Also a graphic designer, his posters and postcards helped to define the Catalan art movement known as modernisme. He was influential in the modern art scenes in Barcelona and Paris, with contemporaries including John Singer Sargent, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and the young Pablo Picasso.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Oscar Dominguez


Composicion con Fondo Azul (Composition with Blue Background)
1949
oil on canvas
size unknown
Slovenska Narodna Galerie, Bratislava, Slovakia

Oscar Dominguez (1906-1957) was a Spanish Surrealist painter whose works were inspired by Yves Tanguy, De Chirico and Picasso. During the 1940's, his paintings were strongly influenced by Picasso with whom he had become friends while living in Paris. He was the son of a wealthy farmer from Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, Spain, he spent his youth with his grandmother and, as a self-taught artist, devoted himself to painting at a young age after suffering a serious illness which affected his growth and caused a progressive deformation of his facial bone frame and limbs.

His earliest paintings were primarily landscapes, but after moving to Paris at the age of 21 to deliver bananas, helping his father in his business, he became enamored with the works of Dali, Tanguy and Picasso. In 1933 he met Andre Breton, a theoretician of Surrealism, and Paul Eluard, known as the poet of this movement, and took part in many Surrealist shows. Afterwards he breaks his relations with Breton and gets under the influence of De Chirico, and thus comes his metaphysical period 1942-1943. Later he becomes friends with Picasso 1944-1948, and so starts his Picassian period. This evolution of his techniques so disappointed his surrealist friends that he was excluded from the International Exhibition of Surrealism in 1947. His very last surrealist work was the inscription ‘I wish death upon 30,000 priests every three minutes’ in the Surrealist Exhibition in 1945. He committed suicide on New Year's Eve 1957 by slitting his wrists in the bath.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Santiago Rusinol


El Cafe de Montmartre (Cafe de los Incoherentes)
1890
oil on canvas
80 x 116 cm
Museo de Montserrat, Montserrat, Spain

Santiago Rusinol i Prats (1861-1931) was a Spanish painter, poet, and playwright. He was one of the leaders of the Catalan modernisme movement who influenced Pablo Picasso as a modern artist. He was born in Barcelona to a family of industrialists in textiles with origins in Manlleu. Despite the fact that he was the heir to the family's lucrative operations, by the time he was a teenager he already showed a strong interest in painting and travel. Like so many artists of the day, he travelled to Paris in 1889, living in Montmartre.

Much of his work in Paris belonged to the Symbolism painting style. While there, he attended the Gervex Academy, where he discovered his love for modernism. After returning to Spain, he settled in Sitges, founding a studio and museum named Cau Ferrat. When back in Barcelona, he was a frequent client of the cafe Els Quatre Gats, noted for its association with modernisme and the young Pablo Picasso. He was most known for his plays, and landscape and garden paintings. He died in Aranjuez in 1931 while painting its famous gardens.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Francisco de Zurbaran


birth of the Virgin (geburt der Jungfrau)
1629
oil on canvas
141 × 109 cm
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA, USA

Francisco de Zurbaran (c.1598-1664) was a Spanish Baroque painter, probably born in Fuente de Cantos, Spain, who mastered a naturalistic style. As he mainly worked for monastic orders, the majority of his work consisted of religious imagery. Many of his theologically inspired paintings are simple, yet emotionally compelling, works that showcase his naturalistic style, as well as his skilled use of light and shadow.

At the time, religious orders were a significant source of work for artists, and he pursued such commissions in Seville. In 1627 he painted the great altarpiece of St. Thomas Aquinas, now in the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville; it was executed for the church of the college of that saint there.

Later, when Bartolome Esteban Murillo's work became popular in Seville, he found himself displaced as the city's foremost painter, even though he tried unsuccessfully to imitate Murillo's style. With his domestic market in decline, he turned to the New World, exporting a number of canvases. However, fleet seizures kept him from receiving some payments, which exacerbated his financial difficulties. In the 1650s, he once again focused on domestic commissions, though he no longer commanded the high fees he once had. He died at age 65 in Madrid. His artistic reputation may have varied during his lifetime, but today his best pieces mark him as a leading painter from the Spanish Baroque period.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Anton Lamazares


AS 4 MARIAS
1981
200 x 300 cm
other details unknown
-Fair use-

“I work with very humble materials, because I believe that in this way I am closer to real life. I believe that with these materials I can release the spirit of the rustic labourer who is in my blood." (Anton Lamazares)

Anton Lamazares (1954-), Spanish painter, was born in Maceira, a village in Lalin, Spain, whose rural environment left a deep impact on his imagery and creative process.

In the late 1960s he began writing poetry. As his creative vocation began to shift from poetry toward painting, he undertook lengthy travels throughout Europe (1972) to study in person work by the masters he revered, including, Paul Klee, Rembrandt and Joan Miro, to whom would be added Antoni Tapies, Manuel Millares, Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon, as well as Medieval art and the Art of Oceania.

In 1973, at the age of only 19, he had already begun exhibiting his paintings in group and solo shows. In 1975 he began his compulsory military service in the Navy, in El Ferrol. In 1978 he moved to Madrid. The 1980s were a time of intense creative activity and broad diffusion of his work: by the age of 30, he had already carved out a space in the panorama of Spanish as well as international art. His paintings of the time show playful and dreamlike figures depicted in an expressionistic mode, intensely chromatic and powerfully original. In 2004, he moved to Berlin where he has been living ever since. In 2010 the University of Santiago de Compostela awarded him its Insignia de Oro (Golden Shield). This was the first time in six centuries that this honor was conferred upon an artist.

Working elaborate surfaces of wood and cardboard with varnish and other materials, he has created a very personal medium and artistic language. From an initially playful expressionism, his style has developed toward abstract expressionism and straightforward abstraction, and, more recently, a sort of minimalism in which an intimate dialogue between soul and memory, the spiritual and the sensual, poetry and dream-life can take place. His works have been exhibited throughout the world and are held by numerous important institutions.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Antonio Lopez Garcia


Woman in the bathtub
1968
oil on board
65 x 42 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA
-Fair use-

Antonio Lopez Garcia (1936-) is a Spanish painter and sculptor, known for his realistic style. He was born in Tomelloso, in the heart of Spain, a few months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. It first appeared that he would continue in the family tradition as a farmer, but an early facility for drawing caught the attention of his uncle Antonio Lopez Torres, a local painter of landscapes, who gave him his first lessons. In 1949 he moved to Madrid and studied at the School of Art in Madrid in the early 1950s, where he soon proved himself a brilliant student, winning a number of prizes, and quickly became part of a nucleus of realist painters.

His style sometimes is deemed hyperrealistic. He is so widely celebrated for the staggering exactitude of his painterly realism that it's sometimes easy to neglect the magical, delicate atmospheres he conjures through his technical abilities. He was the subject of Victor Erice's 1992 film El Sol del Membrillo (The Quince Tree of the Sun), which closely chronicles his attempts to paint a quince tree.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Antoni Tapies


Self-Portrait
1945
pencil on paper
Foundation Antoni Tapies, Barcelona, Spain
-Fair use-

“Like a researcher in his laboratory, I am the first spectator of the suggestions drawn from the materials. I unleash their expressive possibilities, even if I do not have a very clear idea of what I am going to do. As I go along with my work I formulate my thought, and from this struggle between what I want and the reality of the material - from this tension - is born an equilibrium.” (Antoni Tapies)

Antoni Tapies (1923- ) is a Spanish painter, lithographer and etcher, born in Barcelona. Alongside Dali, Miro, Chillida and Picasso, he is one of the great Spanish artist personalities, who had a decisive influence on European painting in the second half of the 20th century.

He studied law at Barcelona University, then gave this up to devote himself to painting. He studied for two months in 1944 at a drawing school in Barcelona, otherwise self-taught. Lived in Paris 1950-1 on a French government scholarship, and has since made frequent visits to Paris.

While the early work is still characterized by self-portraits, in the 1950s he turned to abstract and developed an understanding of painting that presented a completely new pictorial corporeality. He began to produce pictures using sand, clay, marble dust and lime, which resemble impenetrable walls. The crannied backgrounds to his works, incorporating various materials, have an almost physical impact on the viewer. At the same time, he repeatedly breaks open this wall-like surface by scratching in grooves or cryptic signs, making imprints or including other objects in a collage-like manner. In addition, he experiments with different paints and varnishes. After the paintings of the 60s with their overwhelming wealth of material, the canvases of the 90s remain positively empty.

He has allowed himself to be inspired by far eastern philosophy, so that the colorless canvases are primarily reminiscent of contemplation and meditation. In particular, the square formats of the late work radiate an integral harmony. His artistic work resembles philosophizing about polarities: the poles of spirit and matter, form and formlessness, or reality and the imagination. In this context, the body, physical experience and investigation of the self are the extreme points of reference in a never-ending search for images. Once these images have been created, they develop a life of their own, unfolding a magical power and demanding the viewer’s participation.

“With my work I attempt to help man to overcome his alienation; I do this by surrounding his daily life with objects, which confront him in a tactile way with the final and deepest problems of our existence. I want the means that I employ to create the necessary stimulus to be as direct as possible. Instead of giving a sermon on humility, I often prefer to depict humility itself.”  (Antoni Tapies)

He was awarded in 1958 the First Prize for painting at the Pittsburgh International, and the UNESCO and David E. Bright Prizes at the Venice Biennale. He lives in Barcelona.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lely, Peter


Two Ladies of the Lake Family (Zwei Damen der Familie Lake)
c.1650
oil on canvas
128 × 184 cm
Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom

Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), born to Dutch parents in Westphalia, Germany is a Baroque portrait painter known for his Van Dyck-influenced likenesses of the mid-17th-century English aristocracy.

Around 1641, he left for England, where he soon emerged as a leading portraitist. He was the most technically proficient painter in England after the death of Van Dyck. He was awarded the post of Principal Painter to Charles II, producing magnificent portraits of the men and women of the Restoration court. In 1679, he was also awarded a knighthood. During the Commonwealth he adopted a severe, puritanical style, but his Restoration portraits of women are noted for their subtle coloring, skillful rendering of silk, and the air of sensuous languor. His late works are marred by stylistic mannerisms and decreasing vitality. He died in 1680 with his palette in his hand while painting a portrait of the Duchess of Somerset. He was also famous for his significant art collection, which included almost 10,000 prints and drawings and nearly 600 paintings.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Larkin, William


Portrait of Mary Radclyffe
circa 1610-1613
oil on panel
101 × 91 cm
Denver Art Museum, Colorado, USA

William Larkin (c.1585-1619) is an English portrait painter.
Little is known of William Larkin's life. It is almost certain that he was the son of an innkeeper named William Larkin and lived in the parish of St Sepulchre. His father was a close neighbor of Robert Peake, the portrait painter to Henry, Prince of Wales, and it may have been Peake who introduced Larkin to painting. He emerged from total obscurity in 1952 with a publication of his only securely attributed works.

He painted some of the most fashionable figures of the Jacobean period. Among them was Mary Radclyffe, the wife of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston, who rose to prominence as a courtier during the reign of James I. Mary's costume helps us date this portrait quite accurately. Her low-cut dress, closed ruff, simple pearl jewelry, black silk string ties, and feathered hair were all the rage in the first decade of the seventeenth century; but in 1613 the style fell rapidly from fashion. The painting must therefore have been painted just before that date. Behind Larkin's subject are two elaborately draped curtains. He used this device so often that until he was definitively identified in the twentieth century, he was known simply as the "curtain master."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Van Dyck, Anthony


Henrietta Maria, with her court dwarf, Jeffrey Hudson (Portrat der Konigin Henrietta Maria, mit Zwerg Sir Jeffrey Hudson)
1633
oil on canvas
220 × 135 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA

Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) was a Flemish Baroque painter known as "the Mozart of painting". His portraits, like the music of Mozart, are precise, expertly observed, and idealized variations on established forms. He was an extremely famous European court painter throughout the 17th century, matched only by Rubens.

He was born in Antwerp as a son of a rich silk merchant, and his precocious artistic talent was already obvious at age 11, when he was apprenticed to a Flemish historical painter. He was admitted to the Antwerp guild of painters before his 19th birthday. He spent the next two years as a member of the workshop of the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. His work during this period is in the lush, exuberant style of Rubens, and several paintings attributed to Rubens have since been ascribed to Van Dyck.
He settled in London from Antwerp, in 1632, as chief court painter to King Charles I, who knighted him shortly after his arrival. He painted most of the English aristocracy of the time. He contributed heavily to both English portraiture and Italian Renaissance Art, and was unmatched in rendering his sitters' psychological world through expression and pose. He is also considered to be one of the most brilliant colorists in the history of art.

Van Dyck set a new style for Flemish art and founded the English school of painting. His style became lighter and more luminous, with thinner paint and more sparkling highlights in gold and silver occasionally showing a certain hastiness or superficiality as he hurried to satisfy his flood of commissions. He died in London on December 9, 1641 and was buried in the St. Paul Cathedral.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chantal Joffe


Self-Portrait with Esme
2009
oil on linen
84 x 60 in.
location unknown   
-Fair use-

This painting is a work based on a photograph of her daughter and herself. She made this work to remember this moment with her daughter as they were at this time. She knew her daughter would grow up and she didn't want to forget the times when she was young.

Chantal Joffe (1969-) is an English artist born in St. Albans, Vermont, and based in London. She attended the Glasgow School of Art, receiving her master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London. Her often large-scale paintings generally depict women and children. In 2006, British magazine Latest Art selected thirty of the most important female artists of all time. Joffe was included for her large paintings which "are simply exquisite representations of femininity". In that year, she received the prestigious Charles Wollaston Award from the Royal Academy. Joffe primarily paints expressive portraits of women and children, often in very large scale. Painting in huge, unfussy brushstrokes, she is unconcerned with stray drips and blobs of paint, and sometimes leaves old outlines visible.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Eliot Hodgkin


October
1935
oil on wood
101.6 x 76.2 cm
Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom

 "In so far as I have any conscious purpose, it is to show the beauty of natural objects which are normally thought uninteresting or even unattractive: such things as Brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide. People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this… For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before." (Hodgkin)

Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987) was an English painter, born in Purley Lodge, Purley-on-Thames near Pangbourne, Berkshire. He was a painter of small fruit and flower pieces, also landscapes and mural decorations, and writer. By the middle of the 1930s, he had established himself as a painter of still lifes and landscapes, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy.
Hodgkin began painting in tempera in about 1937, using a medium based on a recipe given to him by his friend and former teacher.Although he began with oil painting, most of his finest works were in tempera, specializing in highly detailed still lifes. "Tempera has no attraction for me simply because it was used by the Italian primitives, most of whose work does not greatly appeal to me. I use it because it is the only way in which I can express the character of the objects that fascinate me. With oil paint I could not get the detail without getting also a disagreeable surface: moreover I should have to wait while the paint dried before continuing." (Hodgkin)

During World War II, he was working in the Home Intelligence Division of the Ministry of Information, and proposed making some drawings of plants growing in London's bomb sites. In 1959 he turned down the opportunity of becoming an Academician, but continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy throughout his career, exhibiting a total of 113 paintings at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition exhibitions between 1934 and 1981.

During the last years of his life, he suffered from a crippling diseased, described as an ataxia of unknown origin. In 1979, he stopped painting because of worsening eyesight. He died in 1987 at the age of 81 and is buried at St John's Notting Hill. "I like to show the beauty of things that no one looks at twice." (Hodgkin)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lucian Michael Freud


Girl with a white dog
1952
oil on canvas
76.2 x 101.6 cm
Tate Gallery, London, UK
-Fair use-

"I paint people, not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." (Lucian Michael Freud)

Lucian Michael Freud (1922-2011) was a German-born British painter, known for his work in portraiture and the nude. Sometimes called a realist, he painted in a highly individual style, which in his later years was characterized by impasto. He was widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time. His works are noted for their psychological penetration, and for their often discomforting examination of the relationship between artist and model.

He was born in Berlin, a grandson of Sigmund Freud, the son of the architect Ernst Freud, and elder brother of the late broadcaster, writer and politician Clement Freud. He came to England with his parents to escape the rise of Nazism in 1931, and acquired British nationality in 1939. He was trained at the Central School of Art in London, where he was as much known for his unconventional behavior as for his drawing talent, and at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham.

His earliest love was drawing, and he began to work full time as an artist after being invalided out of the Merchant Navy in 1942. In 1951 his painting won a prize at the Festival of Britain, and since then he built up a formidable reputation as one of the most powerful contemporary figurative painters. Portraits and nudes are his specialities, often observed in arresting close-up.

It was Freud's practice to begin a painting by first drawing in charcoal on the canvas. He then applied paint to a small area of the canvas, and gradually worked outward from that point. For a new sitter, he often started with the head as a means of "getting to know" the person, then painted the rest of the figure, eventually returning to the head as his comprehension of the model deepened. A section of canvas was intentionally left bare until the painting was finished, as a reminder that the work was in progress. The finished painting is an accumulation of richly worked layers of pigment, as well as months of intense observation. His subjects, who needed to make a very large and uncertain commitment of their time, were often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. He painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. In May 2008 his painting was sold by Christie's in New York for $33.6 million, setting a world record auction price for a living artist.

He died in London on 20 July 2011 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery. He is rumored to have fathered as many as forty children although this number is generally accepted as an exaggeration. Fourteen children have been identified, two from Freud's first marriage and 12 by various mistresses. Freud and Guinness beer heiress and writer Lady Caroline Blackwood married in 1953 and divorced in 1959. She is said to have been the only woman who truly broke his heart. After their divorce, his friends noticed a change in him; he began drinking heavily and getting into fights. Francis Bacon became concerned that he was suicidal.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stuart Pearson Wright


The Six Presidents of the British Academy (Gallus Gallus with Still Life and Presidents)
2001
oil on linen
167 x 147.5 cm
Collection of British Academy, UK
-Fair use-

"Stuart Pearson Wright’s work is masterly and contemporary, as well as slightly unnerving and surreal." (Sarah Howgate, contemporary curator, National Portrait Gallery, London)

The commissioning of this painting coincided with the British Academy’s centenary in 2002, and depicts the six Presidents of the Academy who were then living. The painting won the NPG/BP Portrait Award in 2001.
The British Academy was established by Royal Charter in 1902, under the full title of 'The British Academy for the Promotion of Historical, Philosophical and Philological Studies'. It is an independent and self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for distinction and achievement in one or more branches of the academic disciplines that make up the humanities and social sciences, and is now organized in 18 sections by academic discipline.

"As soon as you put chickens in an unusual context they become macabre. The skin of a plucked chicken reminds me of the skin of a human being, particularly an old human being, so that the presence of a chicken for me becomes a memento mori." (Stuart Pearson Wright)

Stuart Pearson Wright (1975-), born in Northampton, a seaside town in southern England, living and working in East London, is a prize-winning painter, best known for his portraits of leading figures in the arts and literature. He is considered the most gifted portraitist of his generation with twenty-seven paintings in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. He drew with enthusiasm from an early age and after flirting with the idea of becoming an actor, finally opted for art school. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, University College of London (1995-1999), receiving a B.A. in Fine Art. During his time at the Slade, in 1998, he won a travel award from the National Portrait Gallery. He set out in a van on a trip around Britain, producing sketches and paintings as he went. In 2001, his career had taken an unexpected turn when he won the first prize in the BP Portrait Awards for his painting Gallus gallus with Still Life and Presidents. It was described as "astounding", showing the men surrounding a dead chicken.

As part of the BP awards first prize, he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create a portrait of the children's author J.K.Rowling. This portrait took him nearly a year to complete and saw his work moving in a new direction. The portrait was conceived in the manner of a regency toy theatre, with the figure painted onto a flat cut-out and mounted in a three-dimensional space. In 2005, he won the Garrick/Milne Prize.

He refers to his own paintings as "pseudo portraits" presenting as they do a subject's "inner state" rather than just an accurate record of their outward appearance. His work is included in the collections of the British Museum, Government Art Collection, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum USA, and the Barings Bank collection, Brussels.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Leonora Carrington


The Old Maids
1947
oil on board
58.2 x 73.8 cm
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
-Fair use-

Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was born into a wealthy industrialist family in Lancashire, England, she learned at a very early age the injustice of society.
Since her parents were both very strict Irish-Catholics, they sent her away from convent to convent and then to boarding school. Finally after many rebellious acts and expulsions from school, in 1937, she succeeded in convincing her parents to let her study art at the Amedee Ozenfant Academy in London. There she lived on a modest pension from her family and established herself as a painter and a writer. In 1937, she met Surrealist Max Ernst in London, and lived with him together until the outbreak of World War II in southern France after he divorced his wife. Most critics dismissed women Surrealists, but Ernst encouraged Leonora, and she exhibited with the Surrealists internationally.

World War II put an end to Surrealism in Europe. Ernst was temporarily imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Leonora fled to Spain. There, she was institutionalized by the intervention of her family in England at a psychiatric hospital, suffering from extreme emotional distress due to her lover Max Ernst's imprisonment in a concentration camp. In fact she had several mental breakdowns. She and Ernst never resumed their relationship, and she eventually married Mexican diplomat Leduc to facilitate her flight from Europe. Following a period in New York, where she was reunited with many expatriate Surrealists, she traveled to Mexico with Leduc. In Mexico, she found a vibrant artistic community and remained in Mexico City for the rest of her life. Eventually she divorced Leduc and married Hungarian photographer.

She was honored with her first one-woman exhibition at New York’s Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1948, followed by solo and group shows around the world. Through her paintings and sculptures, she often explored notions of femininity in the whimsical, dreamlike style of Surrealism. She has written a myriad of articles, novels, essays, and poems. She has produced thousands of paintings, sculptures, collages, and a number of tapestries. She has also made many public appearances. On in particular, was the women's movement in the early 1970's, where she spoke about women's legendary powers and the need for women to take back the rights that belonged to them all along. Leonora Carrington, just as Frida Kahlo and Leonor Fini, is truly a remarkable human being and artist.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bacon, Francis


Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X
1953
oil on canvas
153 x 118.1 cm
Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, USA
-Fair use-

Francis Bacon (1909-1992), was an Anglo-Irish painter. His figurative work is renowned for its boldness and barrenness that contained an unfiltered visceral intensity. Isolated, abstract figure frequently appear in distinct and desolate landscapes in his paintings.

He was born in Dublin, Ireland. His parents were of British extraction. His father had fought in the Boer War. Some have suggested that his father was a descendent of the philosopher Sir Francis Bacon’s older half-brother. His mother came from a Sheffeild family that had made its money in steel and coal.

He began painting during his early 20s and worked only sporadically until his mid-30s. Unsure of his ability as a painter, he drifted and earned his living as an interior decorator and designer of furniture and rugs. During World War II, he was deemed unfit for active duty. Still interested in serving his country, he joined the Air Raid Precautions rescue service. The particulates from the bombing inflamed his asthma. Later, he admitted that his career was delayed because he had spent too long looking for a subject that would sustain his interest.

His breakthrough came with the 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion which sealed his reputation as a uniquely bleak chronicler of the human condition. He often said in interviews that he saw images "in series", and his artistic output typically focused on a single subject or format for sustained periods. His output can be crudely drawn as consisting of sequences or variations on a single motif; beginning with the 1940s male heads isolated in rooms, the early 1950s screaming popes, and mid to late 1950s animals and lone figures suspended in geometric structures. These were followed by his early 1960s modern variations of the crucifixion in the triptych format. From the mid-1960s to early 1970s, he mainly produced strikingly compassionate portraits of friends, either as single or triptych panels.

In 1964, George Dyer broke into Francis Bacon’s residence. Francis Bacon began a relationship with the young petty criminal. This was the first relationship Francis Bacon had been with a younger man. He felt a connection to George Dyer’s vulnerability and trust. Both men were alcoholics who were concerned with their physical appearance. In 1971, George Dyer committed suisie and Bacon's art became more personal, inward looking and preoccupied with themes and motifs of death.

Two visual motifs that he returned to frequently were The Crucifixion and The Scream. In his works, The Crucifixion could be any space in which a body could be injured and in which other figures can witness. This theme could be used to open the various potential meanings. In this motif, he was originally influenced by Pablo Picasso, Diego Velazquez, Matthias Grunewald, and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. The other motif that he returned to was that of The Scream. He became obsessed with this theme. He drew inspiration from a still from an injured woman on the Odessa steps in the Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein and medical text books.

The darkness inherent in his work, many observers say that he seemed quite joyful in his personal life. During his lifetime, he was equally reviled and acclaimed. Margaret Thatcher described him as "that man who paints those dreadful pictures", and he was the subject of two Tate retrospectives and a major showing in 1971 at the Grand Palais in Paris. On April 18, 1992, he died of cardiac arrest that was a complication of his asthma. Since his death, his reputation and market value has steadily grown.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cecil Kennedy


French Bouquet
year unknown
oil on canvas
51 x 64 cm
Private collection
-Fair use-

Cecil Kennedy (1905-1997), born in Leyton,  is widely regarded as the finest British painter of flowers of the 20th Century. He was born into a very large Victorian family who were all very artistic. In his work he often juxtaposes modern exotic hybrid blooms with traditional English flowers and grasses as well as plant species celebrated in the work of the Old Masters. He knew much about flowers and his use of all white flower arrangements reflected his awareness of 20th Century horticultural trends. His work is celebrated for its exquisite detail and artful composition and his paintings can be found in Royal, Corporate and Private collections throughout the world.

In the Second World War he was called up and he fought in the Eighth Army in Europe. During the winter of 1944 he was based in Antwerp and it was here that he familiarized himself with the Dutch and Flemish Old Master flower paintings at first hand. He befriended Flemish painters and this interaction brought about a definite change in his painting style and technique.

He was awarded a silver medal at the Paris Salon in 1956 and a gold medal in 1970. He had many important patrons during his life including the Duke of Windsor and the Astors. Queen Mary is quoted as saying "When I see Cecil Kennedy's pictures I can smell the flowers and hear the hum of the bees". It was she who noticed a ladybird that Kennedy had painted on the stem of a flower and he always incorporated a ladybird into his paintings thereafter. Lord Thomson was also a great admirer of Kennedy's work. His carefully delineated flower paintings have been likened to those of the Dutch 17th Century Masters in approach and devotion to detail. He has held exhibitions in London, Paris, New York and Johannesburg and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, The Royal Hibernian and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hockney, David


Large Interior, Los Angeles
1988
oil, ink on cut-and-pasted paper, on canvas
183.5 x 305.4 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

"Picasso is still influencing me. Of course, I haven't got that kind of energy, or skill." (Hockney)

Hockney, in this painting, applies a cubist treatment of geometry to open up the interior of a large, modern, urban living space. Here the conventional tunnel perspective of a regular image is exploded giving us a fisheye panorama of the entire space.

David Hockney (1937 - ) is an English painter, stage designer and photographer, who is based in London. He is an important contributor to the Pop art movement of the 1960s, and is considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century.

Hockney was born in Bradford, England in 1937. He loved books and was interested in art from an early age, admiring Picasso, Matisse and Fragonard. His parents encouraged their son’s artistic exploration, and gave him the freedom to doodle and daydream.
Hockney attended art school in London before moving to Los Angeles in the 1960s. He settled in Los Angeles, California, in 1964, where he immediately fell in love with the light, the culture and the urban landscape of the West Coast. There, he painted his famous swimming pool paintings. In the 1970s, Hockney began working in photography, creating photo collages he called joiners. He continues to create and exhibit art, and in 2011 he was voted the most influential British artist of the 20th century.
"I'm always excited by the unlikely, never by ordinary things." (Hockney)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Oswaldo Guayasamin


Mural of Misery 2
1969
Acrylic and wood
244 x 122 cm
Guayasamin Foundation Collection, Quito, Ecuador
-Fair use-

Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999), born in Quito, Ecuador, was an iconic Ecuadorian master painter and sculptor of Quechua and Mestizo heritage. Besides being Ecuador's most famous artist, he was also a politically active intellectual who supported the causes of the poor and victims of slavery, exploitation, wars, famine and other tragedies on the continent. He was a close friend of Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fidel and Raul Castro, Francois Mitterrand and Rigoberta Menchu, among other important progressive figures from the second half of the 20th century. Most of his pieces express a profound sense of sorrow, which can be interpreted as a condemnation of the suffering that millions bore because of social injustices and wars. Despite this, his art is strikingly beautiful.

He was born to a native father and a Mestiza mother, both of Quechua descent. He was the first child of ten children in his family. His family was poor and his father worked as a carpenter, taxi and truck driver. He showed an early love for art and he graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Quito as a painter and sculptor. He also studied architecture there. While he was attending college, his best friend died during a demonstration in Quito and this event helped him to form his vision about the people and the society that he lived in. In 1957, at the Fourth Biennial of Sao Paulo, he was named the best South American painter. He traveled to many of the diverse countries in Central and South America, visiting Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and other countries. Through these travels he observed the indigenous lifestyle and poverty that appeared in his paintings. In Quito, he built a museum that features his work.
His images capture the political oppression, racism, poverty, Latin America lifestyle, and class division found in much of South America. He dedicated his life to painting, sculpting, collecting; however, he was an ardent supporter of the communist Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular. He was given a prize for "an entire life of work for peace" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

His death on March 10, 1999 was marked by a day of national strikes by the indigenous people (whom he spent his life supporting) and other sectors of society, and was considered a great loss to Ecuador. He is still lauded as a national treasure.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Emilio Boggio


Fin de la Jornada (End of the Day)
1912
oil on canvas
110.5 x 137.5 cm
Galeria de arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela

Emilio Boggio (1857-1920) was a pioneering impressionist painter of Venezuela.

He was born in Caracas, Venezuela to parents who were in trading business and were prosperous. His father was a naturalized Italian while his mother was Venezuelan of French descent.

At age 15, he was sent to France to finish his studies of commerce. After returning to Caracas, he became an assistant in a fabric trading business but could not achieve anything as he was not inclined to pursue that profession. His parents were hoping that he would join the family business in trading however, in 1877, when he attended the Exposition Universelle in Paris, he decided that he would pursue the art of painting as his vocation. He then enrolled in the Academie Julian, a school of painting. His field of special interest was Impressionism. He interacted with impressionist painters like Camille Pissarro.

In 1918 or 1919, he, in his sixties, returned to Venezuela to hold an exhibition of his paintings in Caracas. His stay provided an excellent opportunity to the young artists of Caracas to learn about impressionist paintings. He guided them and helped them to free themselves from the traditional academic painting and imbibe knowledge of the European Impressionist trends in painting. He not only encouraged them but also explained the techniques of his paintings and accompanied them during their field trips to paint.
He returned to France in 1920 and soon thereafter died at Auvers-sur-Oise in France. He was influenced by Vincent van Gogh.
Boggio is credited as the "first Venezuelan to become an impressionist".

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Amaya Salazar


Jungle Fever
2008
oil on canvas
58 x 58 in.
-Fair use-

Amaya Salazar (1951-), born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is known for her faceless personas that inhabit mystical and magical environments where light and the Antillean flora are present. She studied at the Academia Artium, Madrid, Spain and the School of Fine Arts, Boston, U.S.A. She is mostly inspired by the female form and by mother and child images. She captures those intimate moments where women are escaping the reality of life and entering the warm of the Caribbean light.

The flora is an integral part of her work. The banana leaves, the palm trees, the bamboo trunks are part of the environment that surround the characters; in some cases they are the only element of the piece. The rays of the sun and moon create kaleidoscope of tones throughout the landscape. In the nightscapes the palette turns dark almost black, but there is always an internal light that shines. 

She also works in bronze, steel, and marble as well as creates charcoal on paper drawings and water color and Chinese ink on paper. Her work can be found in important collections worldwide.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Antonio Guerrero


Justice
2009
Mixed media on canvas
20 x40 in.
location unknown
-Fair use-

 "Painting is my language, my voice, my vision. My work is my eternal quest for freedom , peace and harmony and a defining voice against human oppression".  (Antonio Guerrero)

Antonio Guerrero (1968-), born in Matanzas Cuba, under the Castro regime, is a contemporary Cuban American Artist. He grew up in a household where artistic expression was appreciated and encouraged; although materials were not always available, his dreams and ideas were always abundant.

In 1986 he was drafted into the army and was immediately transported to Africa to fight in the Ethiopian War. Being inspired by the people and scenes of Africa, he developed an interest in modern expressionism and began to experiment with modern forms of visual art. The popularity of his work led to exhibits of his paintings at the military base. In 1988, he returned to Cuba and he resumed his job as an artist, specializing in painting, wood carving, sculpting and metal work.

Feeling increasingly oppressed by Cuba's government, and unhappy with the worsening living conditions, he, along with two other men, climbed into a raft they had secretly built. Floating off from the coast of Matanzas, they were at sea for five days before being rescued and brought to the U.S. In 1996, his work was exhibited by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Washington D.C. as a part of the “Cubans in exile”exhibit.

In 2012 he  was one of four Cuban artists in the world chosen by Bacardi  to express the feeling of liberation and the openness of the Cuban spirit during the time of Bacardi’s legendary parties to celebrate  its 150th anniversary. He is a founder of The Cuban Art Project. He lives in Miami Beach, Florida.

He sees the world as a cosmic stage for human activity. "I'm in the system like a computer programmer writing codes with my sketchbook and brushes, playing the critic, here to create and program the unconscious. Apart from all the trouble we cause ourselves, I believe we are immersed in a powerful and beautiful mystery. The fact of our existence is a great riddle to me."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Joaquin Torres Garcia



Tres figuras (Figuras de cinco colores)
1946
oil on canvas
130 x 148.6 cm
location unknown

Tres figuras is a complex painting, merging the pictorial with the abstract. Three figures whose shapes recall his toys of the 1910s-1920s, are scaffolded within a stained-glass-style grid of red, blue, yellow, white and black.

Joaquin Torres Garcia (1874-1949) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. A groundbreaking artist and theorist, he is best known as the founder of an abstract, symbolic painting movement he entitled Universalismo Constructivo. His work brought a new dimension to modernist painting, and his influence has been a defining one, particularly on the Latin American avant-garde.

After spending fruitful periods in Barcelona, New York, Paris and Madrid, he returned to Uruguay in 1934, where he imparted his lasting legacy through a workshop before his death in 1949.

After his family relocated to Barcelona, Spain in 1891, he began his art studies at the age of 17. By the turn of the century, he established friendships with the leading artists including Pablo Picasso, began to paint frescos and worked on stained glass windows for Antoni Gaudi's buildings. In 1913, he published his first book of artistic theory. Before he left for Paris in 1920, he began a project to manufacture toys. From Paris, he journeyed to New York City. There, he met Max Weber, Joseph Stella, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray. In 1922 he returned to Italy, founding the Aladdin Toy Company, and then returned to Paris in 1926. He exhibited and befriended leading cultural figures including Jean and Sophie Arp, and Piet Mondrian. He left Paris in 1932 for Madrid, and formed Grupo Constructivo. In 1934, he decided to return to Montevideo. In 1935 he published the book, Estructura, and established the Asociacion de Arte Constructivo. In 1944, he was honored with the Premio Nacional de Pintura.

Torres Garcia explored pre-Columbian and indigenous forms, as well as Egyptian, Greek, and Indian cultures. In order to invent a universal hieratic language, he crafted unique, archetypal figures. This pared-down alphabet of symbols, deployed in a compartmentalized, planar space, was his hallmark.