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The Roots of Modern Spanish Art Looking at the history of traditional Spanish Painting through the work of Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. By : Tanya Rogish Wood.
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By : Tanya Rogish Wood
From the dawn of time, man has felt the need to create art. Throughout the years each artist has strived to be unique and push the boundaries of what is conceptually and aesthetically pleasing. Traditions and cultural heritage have also played a major role in an artists' inspiration. No matter how hard one may try to rebel against their upbringing these traditions are still present, subtle though they may be.After seeing an exhibition at the Guggenheim titled, "The Roots of Spanish Art: From El Greco to Picasso", I became conscious of just how many of Picasso's Cubistic paintings were based on the classic religious and iconographic forms merely because of the way he chose to represent them. In this weeks painting class, my goal was to attempt to re-create some of these time-honored scenes using a realistic figurative approach but also incorporating a modern/abstract feel to it.
This exhibit was broken down into sections, based on various themes running through the past five centuries of Spanish culture. It shows similarities between the art of old masters & that of the modern era. Some people may say that this comparison between time periods and artistic styles challenges conventional art philosophy. When viewing these paintings side by side the viewer is able to see radical juxtapositions that cross time revealing a fundamental understanding of the Spanish customs.
Juan Gris – 1916 Oil on Canvas Still Life with Newspaper
Juan Sanchez Cotan – 1602 – Oil on Canvas Still Life with Fruits & Vegetables
The Picador – Pablo Picasso - 1900
Here is an example of a modern painting portraying a traditional idea. We see on the left, Goya’s representation of a bull fight and then above Picasso’s rendition of the same thing. In order to go forward with new ideas we must also examine our past.
Pass with a Cape – Oil on canvas
When he visited the Prado in 1865, Edouard Manet observed that the Spanish School had made its greatest contribution of all in the field of the portrait, which took on a distinctive naturalism in the hands of painters such as El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, and Juan Carreño de Miranda. This section of the exhibition explore the shifting terms of portraiture over the past five centuries.
Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), Francisco Pacheco? ca. 1619–22
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Portrait of Jaime Sabartés 1939
A similar duality of psychological depth and surface affect reigned over portraiture of women in 17th century Spain, but it was aggravated by a social sensibility that obligated women to behave with modesty and made female portraits rare outside the heraldic context of royalty. In this moral setting the splendid attire that a true "lady" donned in public—to demonstrate both her elevated social rank and her skill at handling appearances with care—was always viewed with a degree of suspicion, as if social ostentation covered over coquettishness, seduction, deceit, or libertinage. Ambivalence between introspective reserve and decorative display became essential to Goya, who in the context of the Enlightenment, managed to shatter conventional stereotypes by combining them in defiant individualistic portraits of duchesses and other prominent women. In the twentieth century, even as the figure of the lady gave way to new social roles, the old, paradoxical understanding of femininity persisted in the works of Picasso and his avant-garde colleagues, who represented women as dual sources of pleasure and peril.
Francisco De Goya (1746–1828) The Duchess of Abrantes, 1816
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), Portrait of Marie-Thérese Walter with a Garland, 1937
(below) - El Greco (1541-1614) The Vision of Saint John, ca. 1608–14. Oil on canvas
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Winter Landscape1950
The cultural fuel for this vision came from mysticism, which proposed an emotional involvement with landscape through the medium of sacred lyric poetry in the 16th century, around the time El Greco first began to treat the subject. Although this tendency was soon curtailed, it left smoldering embers that were fanned back into a flame centuries later by artists like Francisco de Goya, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró. For Goya the agitation of his landscapes had a great deal to do with the cult of the sublime, and Picasso's long-standing interest in El Greco led him to bring the spirit of that artist's landscapes back to life.
Juan Pantoja de la Cruz - The Infantes Don Felipe & Dona Ana
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), The Infanta Margarita María from The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas), after Velázquez, 1957
Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), Portrait of Queen Mariana, ca. 1656. Oil on canvas
“The only thing that the world will not have enough of is exaggeration.”
- Salvador Dali -
(On Left) Salvador Dalí in front of his painting The Madonna of Port Lligat (1950).
Under the influence of the surrealist movement, Dali's artistic style crystalized into the disturbing blend of precise realism and dreamlike fantasy that became his trademark. His paintings combined meticulous draftsmanship and detail with a unique and stimulating imagination.
(Right) - Salvador Dalí
Madonna of Port Lligat (first version), 1949 Oil on canvas
Since ancient times Mediterranean culture has been saturated with matriarchal symbols. Most important within the Spanish tradition of such imagery was the notion of the Immaculate Conception, which during the Counter-Reformation became an official dogma of the Catholic faith, thanks in large part to the Church in Spain. The significance grew out of anxieties regarding the moral purity of a maiden's virginity contrasted with the love of the mother, who, to become one, had first to be sullied. There was hardly a single Spanish painter throughout the 17th century who did not address this theme, and it became a fundamental part of artistic heritage in the modern era. Its trace survives even in a manifestly atheist painter like Picasso, as well as in many other 20th-century Spanish artists, most notably Salvador Dalí.
Archeological Reminiscence of Millet's Angelus - 1935
by Salvador Dali
Along with the influence of the surrealist movement, Dali's artistic style came together in the disturbing blend of precise realism and dreamlike fantasy that became his trademark.
Metamorphosis of Narcissus – 1936-1937 20 x 20 - Salvador Dali – Oil on canvas
His paintings combined meticulous detail with a unique & stimulating imagination.
The images he created perplex, confound, and intrigue the viewer.
The Elephants – Salvador Dali - 1948
Dali lived in the United States during the 1940s and early '50s, and developed his extravagant and eccentric public persona during this time. He returned to Spain in 1955, and lived an increasingly reclusive life until his death in 1989.
The Temptation of Saint Anthony – 1946 Salvador Dali – Oil on Canvas – 89.7cm x 119.5cm
Christus Hypercubus-Corpus Hypercubus Salvador Dali
Christ of Saint John on the Cross – Salvador Dali - 1951
I planned out a series of paintings that would encompass Christ's life from conception to resurrection/ascension into heaven. On my first attempt, I drew my figures very realistically and thought that the colors and textures of the paint would give it the modern feel that I thought it needed. Upon completion of this painting, I realized that it did not have the look I was intending. It had a Van Gogh/Impressionistic feel to it due to the colors & textures used. I was introduced to Aboriginal and Asmat Art which allowed my figures to emerge from the Asmat sculptural influence and the background was influenced by the Aboriginal dot work. I think the India Ink tied the styles together and also gives it a more contemporary feel. I believe that I successfully conquered my problem and have developed a style that I can pursue further.
Immaculate Conception 2 By: Tanya Rogish Wood
This painting has the realistic figurative qualities of Dali while the bold colors and Impressionistic mark makingand lack of facial features gives it a more abstract feel.
This painting has a more Cubistic figurative approach which was inspired by African Asmat Art and the background was inspired by Aboriginal Dot work.