The artist also known as Hans Arp began his studies in his hometown in 1904. On his first trip to Paris his interest in the works of Matisse, Maillol and Rodin began. Between 1909 and 1911 he began experimenting with abstraction and participated in the second exhibition of the Der Blaue Reiter in Munich.
Coinciding with the outbreak of World War I, he moved to Paris in 1914. There he came into contact with Max Jacob, Pablo Picasso, the Delaunays, Guillaume Apollinaire and Amadeo Modigliani among others.
In 1916, he founded the Dada movement in Zurich with Hugo Ball, Emma Hennings, Richard Hulsenbeck, Marcelo Janco and Tristan Tzara. The contact with the Dadaist and Surrealist circle encouraged a renewal in his work, leading him to abstraction and “essential forms”. His determination to break with traditional art made him opt for spontaneous expression in his search for simplicity.
Jean and his wife Sophie Taueber-Arp moved to Meudon Val Fleury in 1929. He began to work in direct contact with nature, developing a personal language that beyond the apparent abstraction, never forgot its natural reference point. Little by little, his work became pure, emulating growth in nature. The transformation of one form into another, or its fusion and metamorphosis, were to become characteristic of Jean Arp’s sculpture. That’s why Jean Arp should be considered on his own merits as the great reformer of naturalism. Inspired by the model of his immediate environment and discovering new forms according to organic laws helped him discover and create a primitive syntax.
Since the 1950s, Arp’s sculptural work has enjoyed international recognition and success by means of various trips and exhibitions in Europe and the United States. However, it was not until 1954 that his international recognition was affirmed thanks to the Grand Prize for Sculpture awarded to him at the Venice Biennale.
On 7th June 1966 he died in Basel and was buried in his house-studio in Locarno, where his marble sculpture Star presides over his tomb.
"We want to produce as a plant produces a fruit, and does not itself reproduce"
Barceló inherited his mother abilities as a landscape painter, along with his creative eagerness. However, what really marked his development was his exposure to art in his youth. He identified spiritually with Jackson Pollock and Joan Miró, with Cy Twombly and Robert Ryman, painters of enormous sensuality; as well as Beuys and Art Brut. He also drew from Pollock’s drip technique, absorbed all the while in the search for figurative form. Once he had figurative form covered, Barceló shaped images from material incorporating elements that evolve with the passage of time and give life to the material. This soon became the protagonist of his paintings, with the incorporation of literary elements and allusion to creative imagination.
In the 1980s, Barceló felt comfortable with poor aesthetics, painting on the floor and incorporating random materials. He explored still lifes; one of his main themes along with transitory allegories. Barceló came to international prominence following the Sao Paulo Art Biannual in 1981 and the Documenta VII in Kassel in 1982 contributing to the diffusion of his work and an important demand for his work from museums and international galleries. Barceló is considered to have consolidated his style in 1984.
In 1987, while he was in New York, he investigated transparency, focusing on the use of varnishes and glazes. The connection with Chinese painting of the seventeenth century became equally evident, especially in the attempt to evoke figures minimally.
In 1988, while in Gao, Mali he became fascinated by West Africa. It would become a place of annual pilgrimage. He discovered the importance of light: “Light in Africa is not colour. Light is much stronger than colour. Colour is almost corroded by light”. By 1989 his work was already much more purified, bordering on the metaphysical and minimizing figures to black dashes.
In 1993, he began a series of large format paintings with deformed bundles on grid structures. An allusion to the artwork on the walls of the Altamira caves. With the recurring theme of time and its multiple intervals, he has chosen techniques like piling until reaching his more recent ceramics that represent towers of skulls.
His work was recognized in 2003 with the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. In the same decade he was commissioned with two of his great masterpieces: the ceramic altarpiece in the Chapel of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Palma (2007) and the controversial decoration of the domed ‘dripping ceiling’ of the Hall of Human Rights and the Alliance of Civilizations, at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
"The main theme of the work of Miquel Barceló is the inexorable passage of time. It is what reflects his obsession for the incessant transformation of medium or frequent staging of the everyday mysteries of life and death"
E. JUNCOSA, “Los cielos terrestres”, en Miquel Barceló. Work on paper 1979-1999, Madrid-Granada-Brasil-Israel, 1999.
The life of the “santanderina” María Gutiérrez Cueto Blanchard was marked from birth by several physical deformities. She suffered from double deviation of the spinal column, which gave her a prominent humpback. Such misfortune was precisely what motivated her father to encourage her artistic career, from which she built her own world, alien to suffering and a source of happiness.
Her initial training took place in Madrid (1903-1908), where her potential was rewarded with a scholarship that allowed her to study in Paris (1909-1914). Thanks to her stay in the French capital she witnessed the birth of Cubism and immersed herself in the works of Picasso and Braque.
The Parisian period was cut short by World War I and at the end of her scholarship in 1914, she returned to Spain. On returning to Madrid she devoted herself to realism with an unequivocally Spanish style palpable in La comulgante, one of her most representative works. She taught art in the Normal School in Salamanca, a city she fled in 1916 after being ridiculed because of her physical deformities.
Leaving behind Spain and her surname, she returned to Paris, becoming known from then on as María Blanchard. This marked a turning point in her life and work. From 1916 to 1919, she expressed herself through Cubism in an attempt to prove that she was, at least, artistically on a par with the best painters of the time: her friends Rivera, Lipchiz and Gris.
The most mature stage of her work began in 1919, returning to a figurative style in which she made use of the human figure as the bearer of her inner experiences. By incorporating an important autobiographical element in the works towards the end of her career, she endowed the characters with a strongly transcendental character. Weakened by her physical condition and serious illness and immersed in her most personal work, Maria died in 1932 in Paris.
"Cubist influence, kaleidoscopic and suggestive, and the unique realistic contribution are the basic strategic axes of her complex pictorial universe"
M. J. SALAZAR, María Blanchard, catálogo razonado de pintura, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía y Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, 2004.
Fernando Botero, painter and sculptor from Colombia, received his artistic training in Bogota. It was there that began painting, exhibiting works influenced by Picasso and Gauguin. Later, he moved to Madrid to study at the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, where he could admire great Spanish masters such as Goya and Velázquez. After a disappointing trip to Paris in an attempt to find the French avant-garde, Botero travelled to Florence in 1953 and it was there, marvelled by Renaissance art where he developed a classic technique.
On his return to Europe in the late 1960s, Botero exhibited extensively in museums and galleries in the United States, Latin America and Europe, but it wasn’t until 1969 that he was able to exhibit in Paris thanks to the Claude Bernard Gallery. During this period, he lived in Europe, Colombia and New York, settling definitively in the French capital in 1973. It was during these times that he began creating sculptures. Towards the end of the decade and in midst of an important creative output, the consecration of his unique style can be appreciated.
This style, which proved controversial with critics, showed the ability of the Colombian artist to detach himself from trends or movements and avoid well-trodden paths. Like the thinness of Giacometti’s figures, big volumes define Botero’s figurative work. He has shown an ability to find an aesthetic and turn it, by means of repetition, into a normal deviation from the rule without risk of caricature. We discover an artist who has forged his unique and undoubted style through a serious and thoughtful analysis of the representational canon of the greatest artistic periods and the great masters of the History of Art.
"The contemplation and enjoyment of the paintings, drawings and sculptures of this placid artist immerses us in a space full of traditions and intellectual winks. Something that subjugates us and fascinates us by the wise and at the same time ironic and enchanting ingenuity that floods us"
Solana Madariaga, Javier en Fernando Botero. Pinturas. Dibujos. Esculturas. Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Ministerio de Cultura, 1987, p. 10.
The Chilean artist Claudio Bravo Camus showed interest in painting early on. At the age of eleven he began his artistic studies in Santiago de Chile, where he exhibited for the first time in 1954, in the well-known Salon 13. Curiously, for an artist whose work is unmistakably academic, his training lasted only three years. For this reason, he has been considered self-taught on many occasions.
At the beginning of the sixties, he moved to Spain, dedicating some time to portraiture in the style of Sargent and Sorolla. Tired of being the fashionable portraitist worshipped by Madrid’s high society, he opted for an extreme realism of everyday life which ultimately led him to success in New York. When he exhibited in 1970 it was at the moment of the Hyperrealist boom, a movement that would be consecrated in the Documenta V in Kassel in 1972.
In 1972, he toured Morocco with his friend and sculptor Enrique Valdivieso. It was there he found a theme that definitively characterized his work, and he finally decided to settle there. His immaculate home in Tangier was transported to the canvas in his search for perfection. He started out with live models, changing and transforming them with his fantasy, his sensitivity and his subtly de-realizing technique. It was his technical mastery that allowed him to convert the real world into a better one and, in turn, the reason why he has been associated with movements of modern tradition like the realist or even hyperrealist against his will.
A passion for Greek civilization developed in his childhood and was reflected in his work, which always moved along the lines of classicism, eroticism and fusion of cultures. Classicism understood as a connection with the classics: Claudio Bravo reinterprets, with his own contributions, compositions of Renaissance and Baroque painters, in particular. Eroticism, for its part, is understood as the aura that impregnates a naked body.
His collection included more than twenty Greco-Roman sculptures that he combined with works of Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon or Manolo Valdés; Ancient Chinese lacquers and Roman glass; sculptures by Botero, Rodin, Benjamín Lira and Vicente Gajardo, and a fantastic collection of contemporary furniture.
He died in Morocco from two heart attacks provoked by an epileptic attack on his way to the hospital, on 4th June 2011.
“The life that is refracted in its images is not true life, but illusion, an exalting lie”
Mario Vargas Llosa
The British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro is not only one of the most emblematic artists of his country, but considered also one of the most important sculptors of the second half of the twentieth century, along with David Smith, Eduardo Chillida, Donald Judd and Richard Serra. He graduated with a degree in Engineering from Cambridge and subsequently studied sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in London. This allowed him to work as an assistant to Henry Moore between 1951 and 1953. Caro taught at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London from 1953 – 1981. His relationship with learning grew, and he became a great reference in the world of sculpture thanks to his way of questioning new formal and thematic possibilities.
In his first solo exhibition (Milan, 1955), he exhibited sculptures in clay and plaster. His perspective changed definitively during a trip to the United States in 1959, when he abandoned his earlier figurative work and his connections with some of the figures from the abstract movement; critic Clement Greenberg, the painter Kenneth Noland and the sculptor David Smith.
In 1960, he began to work with welded and bolted steel and aluminum. The exhibition that promoted him took place at the Whitechapel in London in 1963, where his big abstract sculptures were painted with bright colours and placed directly on the ground, so that they rose to the same height as the spectator. This signalled a radical change in sculpture making; indeed, it was said that he knew how to draw in spaces, something that had also been said of Julio González, one of his most important artistic references.
In the seventies, his work, eminently rectilinear, became heavy and immense. It also dispensed with polychrome, looking instead for a colour finish on steel. Around this time, he started his table pieces, developing the table-based sculpture in ways which took the component elements beyond the supporting surface into the surrounding space. Over the years, Caro endowed his works with a monumental quality and experimented with a wide range of materials such as bronze, silver, lead, ceramics, wood, terracotta and paper.
In 1987 he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and in 1997 received the Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded by the United States International Sculpture Center. In 2000 he received the Order of Merit of the United Kingdom, becoming the second sculptor to receive it after Henry Moore. Many of the world’s great museums have devoted extensive retrospectives to him: The MOMA in New York (1975), the Contemporary Art Museum in Tokyo (1995), and The Tate Britain in London (2005). His works are in museums and collections all over the world; specifically, in Barcelona, where his works are displayed in the Fundació Joan Miró, Fundació Antoni Tàpies and in the MACBA.
He remained creative until the end of his life, the retrospective exhibition dedicated to him by the Correr Museum in Venice was on at the time of his death at the age of 90.
“I understand by sculpture that which is cut, because that which is modeled already belongs and resembles painting”
Anthony Caro, in BORRÀS, M.L., ANTHONY CARO, Galeria Joan Prats (cat. expo.), 1983.
Born in 1913 in Barcelona, Antoni Clavé produced a wide range of unclassifiable artworks, all varying greatly due to his personal style as he experimented with different techniques.
At the beginning of his career, the Spanish Civil War left a profound mark on him, eventually leading him to join the Republican side. He was devoted to cinema posters, newspaper illustrations and theatre scenery, preparation for his following years as a painter.
As a result of the Republican defeat he went into exile in France, where in his first exhibition (Perpignan 1939) he exhibited a series of works on paper, including one of the concentration camp where he was imprisoned for three years. He was a member of the School of Paris, a group of artists that included Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Óscar Domínguez, Baltasar Lobo and María Blanchard, among others. His first contact with Picasso was in 1944 when a long friendship that would greatly influence Clavé’s artistic language began. He began to experiment with new techniques and materials such as collage, printing and assemblages.
The fifties proved to be very prolific decade for Clavé, as he could exhibit in European and American cities, such as London, Rome, Prague or New York. From 1956, Clavé started to leave behind figurative art and began producing his well-known series of Kings and Queens, in which he approaches reality squarely. Alongside his traditional palette of colours; ochres, browns and greys he began using a chromatic triad of black, red and blue, that would become a fixture in his future work.
During the sixties and seventies, his experimentation increased progressively until the eighties, when he travelled to Japan. It was a turning point in his career. Highly inspired, the resulting series titled Regreso de Japón (Return from Japan) was exhibited in 1987. During the period he created great dynamic and dramatic works using strong and powerful technique and colours.
Antoni Clavé died in Saint-Tropez in 2005, after leaving an eclectic and extensive work seen in a great number of cities around the whole world.
"What every great artist aspires to is to give us symbols. And this man [the man of today] who one day exploded in innumerable fragments in paintings, engravings and volumes of Antoni Clavé is contemplated, whole, from the privileged position of the creator, who participates in his adventure and is at the same time observer and witness"
Corredor-Matheos, José. Antoni Clavé: La realidad como metamorphosis, en Pinturas y esculturas 1972-1991. Zaragoza, Banco Zaragoza, 1991, p.13.
De Chirico was born to an Italian family in 1888 in the small Greek town of Volos. His early creative vocation as well as his emerging interest in the beauty of the classical ruins, led him to begin his drawing studies as early as 1899. This would be complemented later on by his training in Munich where he read Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He also studied the symbolist painting of Arnold Böcklin, his inspiration during this first artistic period.
During his convalescence from a severe intestinal disease, in 1910, he experienced a vision. As he gazed at the Piazza della Santa Croce in Florence, he felt that everything around him took on spectral life. This perception led to his first metaphysical painting, The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon (1910). From 1912 he came into contact with the artistic circles of the time. In addition, he met and collaborated with Apollinaire, who, for the first time used the term “metaphysical”, in reference to his works. De Chirico, at the same time, would continue to construct his artistic personality by calling himself Pictor classicus in 1919.
The development of his imagery, ranging from architectural and sculptural motifs to classic figures, had a great influence on the theory and aesthetics of surrealism. André Breton introduced himself to the group, exhibiting at the famous Première Exposition Surréaliste in París in 1925. In the same year, the gallery of Léonce Rosenberg dedicated a monographic exhibition to him. This lead him to break with the surrealists as he did not agree with their “return to order” or their claims on the classics as an artistic model. De Chirico transitioned into his metaphysical period. From 1925 he began to work with light and Mediterranean mythology and developed his classic themes of archaeologists, horses on the coast, trophies and gladiators.
In 1936 he exhibited in the gallery of Julien Levy in New York and numerous works ended up in the collection of Albert C. Barnes. At the outbreak of World War II, an antiquarian friend from Florence offered asylum to De Chirico and his wife of Jewish origin. It was at this point that he explored his facet of sculptor and began to transfer his classic subjects, like the archaeologists, to terracotta. The bronzes would begin in the late 1960s. De Chirico also developed his facet of writer and was very active throughout his career.
On achieving outright recognition of his work, The Royal Society of British Artists in London dedicated a monographic show to him in 1949. Even at a later stage in his life his work was worthy of participation in a retrospective in Palazzo Reale of Milan (1970) and in the New York Cultural Center (1972).
In his eighties he began another research phase known as Neo-metaphysics, in which he reworked versions of his works from 10, 20 and 30 years before, revisiting the use of light, brighter colours and serener ambiances. He died in Rome at the age of 90.
"Ephesians teaches us that time does not exist and that, on the great curve of eternity, the past is the same as the future"
Giorgio de Chirico, Letter to Guillaume Apollinaire (Ferrara, 11th July 1916)
Robert Delaunay was born in Paris in 1885. At the age of four, his parents separated and he was entrusted to his mother's sister and her husband at La Rongère, near Bourges. His first contact with painting was through his uncle. The period he spent training between 1902 and 1904 in Eugène Ronsin’s studio in Belleville made him definitively lean towards painting. He left the studio to devote himself to it exclusively.
In 1904 he exhibited for the first time some of his first impressionist works in the Salon des Indépendents. During the first decade of the 20th century he discovered Seurat and Van Gogh’s paintings as well as the Synchromism of Paul Gauguin and his work became more post-impressionist. Cézanne’s retrospective, as well as his contact with Fernand Léger and the Braque and Picasso exhibitions at the Kahnweiler Gallery, led to development of a more personal style in 1909, when he already showed an interest in simultaneous contrasts.
In 1907 he also met the artist Sonia Terk, who became his wife in 1910. She shared his artistic concerns and a multitude of projects. At this time, they worked vehemently on the definition of the principles of Orphism, a dissident movement of Cubism that proclaimed the supremacy of colour. His artistic production demonstrated this interest from 1909 with series like Sinte-Severine (1909-1910); The Windows and Circular Forms (1912): The Tour Eiffel, the City of Paris (1912-1913, which will he would resume around 1925) and Discs (1914-1915). In turn, he began to correspond with Wasily Kandinsky, who invited him to participate in the exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter.
In 1914, the couple moved to Spain where the outbreak of World War I caught them by surprise. The artist was not enlisted due to ill health and the family decided to remain in the Iberian Peninsula during the war. They resided mostly in Spain although they also spent a period in Portugal.
At the end of 1921 they returned to Paris attracted by the effervescence of new ideas and artistic trends. They mixed in the Dadaist and Surrealist circles. In the 1930s, Robert resumed some of his series from the 1910s, which gave rise to new series such as Rythmes joie de vivre and Rythtme sans fin. His international recognition led him to participate in the exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Together with Felix Aubulet, they planned and managed the decoration of the Railway and Air Pavilion of the Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, held in Paris in 1937. This was the final opportunity for Robert to elaborate a painting that created an architectural order, in his mind the definition of art and its usefulness in modern life. Both also participated in the Salon des Tuileries.
As a result of the German invasion, they moved to Auvergne in 1940 and later to Mougins. A year later, Robert’s illness worsened and he was transferred to Montpellier, where he died that same year.
“Colour is form and theme. Is the only subject that develops and transforms itself, regardless of any analysis, psychological or not. Colour is a function in itself”
Robert Delaunay: Notes sur le développement de la peinture de Robert Delaunay, in Francastel, Pierre: Du Cubisme à l’art abstract. París, 1967, p. 67.
Óscar Domínguez, a surrealist painter from the Canary Islands moved to Paris in 1927 to work in the family business. The blatant avant-garde climate of the city adapted effortlessly to Domínguez’s needs. As a result, the French capital became his place of residence for most of his life.
Once established there, he attended gatherings, visited academies, drew, painted and visited exhibitions. In 1929 his surrealist work was well-known but it wasn’t until 1934 that he became part of the movement. Welcomed by Breton and the other artists and writers of the group, Domínguez contributed works such as the famous decalcomanias, among others. During the thirties he exhibited individually and collectively in Tenerife, although he returned rarely. In Paris on the other hand, his popularity transcended the artistic circles of the daily life. He was known in Montmartre and Montparnasse for his peculiar personality and physical appearance.
His artistic output between 1929 and 1938 has been considered his surreal period in which we find an early phase of spontaneous surrealism and a series influenced by Dalí. Objects were seen by the surrealists as the opposition to sculpture. He took up the decalcomania, a technique which was also used in his circle. This period was followed by the cosmic period (1938-1939) and lithochronism (1939 – 1942).
In 1942 he ended his relationship with Breton, distancing himself from Surrealism. This coincided with his so-called metaphysical period (1942-1943) which was clearly influenced by De Chirico.
During World War II his admiration for his friend Picasso marked a turning point in his work. The Picassian period (1944-1948) is remarkable for its art marked by Domínguez’s personal universe which evolves in the schematic period (1949-1950). Contour line, geometry and colour come together to become an unprecedented success. At the end of 1950s he returned to the decalcomanía technique.
In 1958 the artist decided to end his life to leave behind his illness and grief.
Domínguez´s career was marked by a constant change as a result of his concerns, but he remained faithful to himself, his irrationality, his character and his dreams.
"In fact, through the various forms of an already abundant work, through the many influences that acted on his style, one finds without ceasing the concern, always in the first place, of constructing a new world, of taking What it is to get what it should be, what it will be. Every time he goes deliberately to the adventure and his methods are very personal"
GEORGES HUGNET, 1954. Preface to the Galerie Roux-Hentschel Exhibition.
Dubuffet attended art classes from an early age. In 1918, he moved to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, which he left after six months. During this time, Dubuffet befriended Max Jacob, Suzanne Valadon, Elie Lascaux and Charles-Albert Cingria. He also met Fernand Léger and Juan Gris through Kahnweiler, and visited the studio of Raoul Dufy and André Masson. From 1921 he became interested in music, linguistics and literature, and fascinated by Hans Prinzhorn’s book on psychopathic art. He travelled around Italy and South America between 1923 and 1924, and on his return, he decided to abandon painting for about ten years. During that time, he devoted himself to industrial design and later, to the family wine business.
The autumn of 1942 would mark a turning point in Dubuffet’s career as he made the decision to devote himself solely to art. His international success and recognition were almost immediate. His first solo exhibition was held at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris in 1944. During the 1940s, the artist met Paul Éluard, André Breton, Georges Limbour, Jean Paulhan and Charles Ratton, although his style was more influenced by Paul Klee. From 1945 he began to collect Art Brut. It was a term that he popularized to refer to different artistic techniques; spontaneous and direct and created by marginalized people; the mentally ill and children outside of the established art scene. He also founded the Compagnie de l’Art Brut organization (1948-51) along with writers and critics and members of the Dadaist and Surrealist circles. For the first public exhibition of Art Brut at the Galerie René Drouin in 1949, he published a manifesto “L’Art Brut prefere aux arts culturels”, in which he proclaimed the superiority of style over officially recognized art.
Dubuffet described his pictorial style as Art Brut and posed a radical challenge to established aesthetic values. Inspired by graffiti and the art of self-taught creators, he insisted that his work challenged the deceptive and established notion of beauty. In addition to his devotion to the art of primitive cultures and untrained artists, he was interested in the use of found objects and materials. He tried to restore the values and materials scorned by Western aesthetic conceptions of the time, taking an interest in everything that was a challenge, a provocation and a sign of rebellion.
From 1951 to 1952 he lived in New York where he established a friendship with Yves Tanguy. Subsequently he exhibited at important institutions around the world such as the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris; Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago; the Palazzo Grassi in Venice; the Tate Gallery in London; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
A collection of Dubuffet’s writings, Prospectus et tous écrits suivants, was published in 1967, the same year that he began his architectural structures. Shortly afterwards, he began numerous projects for monumental outdoor sculptures, and from 1971, he began to produce his first pieces for the theatre, so-called “playable ones”.
In 1981 the Guggenheim Museum in New York, celebrated the artist’s 80th anniversary with an exhibition and in 2001 he was the subject of an important retrospective at the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris.
He died of a heart attack on 12th May 1985 in Paris, aged 83.
"For me, madness is sanity. Psychotics are the normal thing. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity"
Having shown his artistic talent as a young man, Pablo Gargallo entered the workshop of the sculptor Eusebio Arnau i Mascort. This was his first contact with sculpture. In the early 1900s, he began at La Llotja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona and spent time at Els Quatre Gats where he became friends with Picasso, Canals and Nonell. Thanks to a scholarship, he moved to Paris in 1903 where he studied Rodin’s work with special attention. A year later, he would return to his old workshop in Barcelona, now occupied by Picasso. On his return to the city, he produced important work including an exhibition of his work in Sala Parés and sculpture at Hospital de Sant Pau for the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Years later, the Catalan architect would also ask Gargallo to sculpt for the Palau de la Música Catalana.
After his stay in Barcelona, he returned to Paris and created his first mask with iron sheet titled Little mask with Lock of Hair. The discovery of this new material and its expressive qualities led him to develop a new artistic language, calling into question the association between the concepts of sculpture and solid volume to favour concave modelling and subsequently the expressive value of the hollow space. Thus, influenced by Cubism, he began to compose his characteristic sculptures based on trimmed and assembled shapes, using the curvilinear line or human figure as the main theme.
While still in Paris and thanks to the intermediation of Juan Gris, he was able to contact the art dealers Léonce Rosenberg and Antoine Level who acquired their first works in sheet metal, adding value to Gargallo’s art.
During the 1920s he was able to return to Spain after obtaining a teaching position at the School of Arts and Crafts of Barcelona. He lost this position as a result of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, forcing him to return to the French capital.
As he got older, Gargallo also experimented with works far removed from his more avant-garde side, such as Academia o Eco, based on the use of solid forms typical of the classical tradition and the Mediterranean style.
In 1934 on moving to Reus for an exhibition of his work, he died from pneumonia.
"Gargallo's work seems to us, in short, an excellent illustration of this aesthetic of the minimum that Jean Cocteau advocated and which is not that of the least effort, but that of a lightness reconquered by means of the line"
Paul Fierens, Sculptures d'aujourd'hui, 1933.
The Parisian Albert Gleizes showed early interest in painting as a child, and his father was responsible for his artistic training. He was a graphic designer of printed fabrics and became familiar with drawing and painting techniques. In 1902, he exhibited for the first time in the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In 1905, he joined a group of writers from the Le Vie magazine to promote the Ernest Renan Association, a kind of popular university to encourage fraternization between workers and intellectuals. The following year he founded the Abbaye of Créteil with the writers and poets Georges Duhamel, René Arcos and Alexander Mercerau. This colony of intellectuals and self-sufficient artists was funded by the publication of books and engravings until 1908.
Gleizes’ initial work evoked Impressionism and then quickly evolved towards a representation of the human figure in geometric line and composition. In 1910, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in París and formed an artistic group with Metzinger, Delaunay, Léger and Le Fauconnier.
In 1912, together with Metzinger, he published the treatise Du Cubisme, the first theoretical work of the movement before presenting his most ambitious painting to date, Le Dépiquage des moissons at the Section d’Or Salon. The following year his art took on an international dimension when he participated in the Armory Show in New York. At this stage, he insisted on the importance of mathematical laws, bringing to life the flat surface of a painting.
At the end of World War I, during which Gleizes was called to the front, he moved to the United States, where he resided until 1919 and came into contact with F. Picabia and M. Duchamp. During this period, he also went to Barcelona, where he gave his first solo exhibition at Galeria Dalmau, in 1916. On his return to France he suffered a personal crisis. However, he devoted his time to painting large compositions of abstract appearance and to continue his theoretical activity.
In 1920 Gleizes announced his project of creating sincere painting, paintings from which he could extract his own reality and value. He rejected the most decorative aspects of his earlier work, prioritizing instead form and colour. The series, Femme au gant noir clearly reflects this. The composition is conceived according to the principle of opposing primary colours to obtain greater expressive force. It offers the synthesis of the picture-object, simple structure in painting, in the words of the critic Peter Brooke.
His social and religious concerns became the engine of his work and in 1927 he founded the Moly-Sabata group in the Rhone valley; a religious, artistic and craft community that wanted to be a place of salvation within a society destined to collapse. He later took the paleo-Christian and medieval world as inspiration for his canvases.
In 1947 the artist’s biggest retrospective was held at the Chapelle du Lycée Ampère in Lyon.
He died in Avignon on 23rd June 1953.
“The painting must respond to the desire to make the canvas vibrate (…) respecting the truth of flat surface, cubism bares the forms of its temporal, picturesque reality. It returns them to their geometric purity. Not having resorted to illusions of illumination, it presents in light flat colours. The result of this discipline is a painting of shapes”.
GLEIZES, Albert, Of Cubism and the ways to understand it, Paris, 1920.
Born into a family of goldsmiths and wrought iron craftsmen, Julio González is without doubt the father of modern iron sculpture. He began learning metal work in his father’s workshop. His interest in art was demonstrated by his presence at meetings at Els Quatre Gats and attendance at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts, La Llotja. In 1899, after various visits to Paris he decided to move to Montparnasse, fascinated by the wide range of new opportunities that the city offered.
In the following years he spent time with Spanish artists living in the capital in the hope of finding a studio for metalwork. At the same time, he drew extensively and exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1907. He didn’t wish to leave Paris but at the outbreak of World War I, he and his family decided to move to Barcelona where he would continue to paint and work as a goldsmith and jeweller. In 1918 he worked as an apprentice welder at the Renault factory in Bologne-sur-Seine, where he learned the technique of autogenous welding. He would later use the technique in his sculptures. Ten years later, after great critical reaction to his exhibitions in the French capital, González began to collaborate with Pablo Picasso. Together, they discovered in metal the true manifestation of purity of line; allowing Julio González to draw in space with metal. At the end of the 1920s he exhibited his first wrought iron sculptures at the Salon d’Automne and the Galerie de France. At the same time, he made friends with members of the Cercle et Carré and Abtraction Création. This relationship brought about the biggest abstraction in his characteristic space constructions while maintaining the balance between modernity and tradition.
In 1939 and the outbreak of World War II, he went to Mirabelle-par-Montcup where he expressly drew “Cactus-man” and frequently worked with clay, due in part, to the scarcity of materials. In 1941 he returned to Paris to devote himself to drawing until 1942 when he died in his home in Arcueil.
González´s use of painting and sculpture, perfect balance of tradition and avant-garde, figurative and abstract and continual determination to formally experiment and incorporate new materials made him essential to the sculpture revolution of the 20th century.
"A harmonious work is achieved by the marriage of matter with space, by the union of real forms with imagined forms (...). To project and to draw in the space with the help of new means, to take advantage of this space and to build with it, as if it were a newly acquired material, there is my whole endeavour "
Julio González, Notations, 1952
The man who would become Juan Gris was born José Victoriano González-Pérez in Madrid in 1887. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and between 1902 and 1904 he alternated his training with illustrations for the Madrid magazine Blanco y Negro.
After his first period of training he travelled to Paris in 1906 where he continued to be an illustrator for French magazines such as Le Charivari or Le Témoin. He shared a studio with Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacobs among others in the famous artist commune, Bateau-Lavoir.
In 1911 he began painting, participating in the Salon des Indépendants and the exhibition of Section d’Or in 1912. He exhibited his works with great avant-garde artists such as Fernand Léger, André Lhote and Jean Metzinger.
1913 was an important year in his career. He adhered to the so-called Synthetic Cubism and experimented with collage thanks to his contact with Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. He also signed his first contract with the German gallery owner and art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.
By 1916 his more unorthodox Cubism gave way to a more complex production, richer in materials, he moved away from the simplicity of his early compositions. It has been described as his best and most recognized stage. At the end of the decade, his work began to be defined as a “purified” Cubism. Its starting point was based on the realization of abstract formal compositions and compositional structures and distanced itself from thematic decomposition. His paintings became “conceptual” and synthetic and discovered a language based on new techniques.
Towards the end of a life marked by health issues, he participated in the International Exhibition of Modern Art organized by the Société Anonyme in the Brooklyn Museum of New York in 1926.
Juan Gris died on 11th May 1927 in Bologne-sur-Mer. He left behind a remarkable pictorial evolution in Cubism, worthy of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
“[…] a painting of measure, of moderation, of serene purity, which summarizes and contains the interior works at the same time that it renews it…”
Born in Paris, Hugnet spent much of his childhood in Argentina. He returned to the French capital to carry out numerous and varied jobs related to the world of art and culture such as poetry, publishing, cinema, performance and design.
Hugnet’s early rebelliousness instilled in him a combative and obstinate nature that led to disputes with his family, editors, artists and friends.
In 1920 he established a friendship with Marcel Jouhandeau which influenced the young poet and put him in contact with Max Jacob.
Initially, he wrote in various art magazines and showed an attachment to the surrealist group. He joined the group by means of André Breton from 1932 to 1939. He came into contact with other influential artists of the early Twentieth century European avant-garde such as Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Tristán Tzara, Man Ray and Jean Cocteau. Once he left the group he began to develop his important photographic collages.
In addition to his career as an artist and with the financial support of his father, a furniture manufacturer, he established the editorial The Montagne. Excelling in the world of literature and editing, he published his own works along with the works of his close friends who included Tristan Tzara, Pierre de Massot and Gertrude Stein.
In 1940 he joined the French resistance against the German occupation and told of the resistance in the publication,Non vouloir.
Up until his death in 1974, Hugnet continued to publish new works and brought out new editions of his previous publications. He also concentrated on trading in and collecting unusual books and manuscripts of friends from the French literary world.
“He states that, as they are cut with scissors and reassembled, magazine images lose their initial purpose and their banal meaning and are manipulated in a manner that turns (or detours) everydayness into a land of wonder (merveilleux in the original)”
ERAM, Cosana: Georges Hugnet’s Surrealist Monsters and women, (about collage) en: S. Posman, Ghent, A. Reverseau, S. Bru, Leuven, D. Ayers, Canterbury, and B. Hjartarson: The Aesthetics of Matter: Modernism, the Avant-Garde and Material Exchange. Walter de Gruyter, 2013. Pg. 359.
Béla Kádár has been called the chameleon of art of the 20th century, perhaps because he experimented with so many styles while not belonging to one in particular. Kadar managed to mould and merge these techniques into an unquestionably personal style of his own.
Born to Hungarian Jewish parents, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and won the Kohner prize in 1910. Kádar exhibited at the Gallery der Sturm in Berlín. He later showed his work at the Anonymous Society of New York, founded by Duchamp and Katherine Dreier and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, among others. Kádar is one of the most famous members of the early 20th-century Hungarian avant-garde.
He lived in Budapest, where he was born and died, but he travelled constantly to Austria, Russia, France, Czechoslovakia and Hungry, where peasants and tradition inspired themes and figures for his work. The characters that appear in his work are not concrete characters but archetypes. Kádar depicts mothers, lovers, peasants, soldiers, etc. These archetypes coupled with landscapes, serve to translate into gouache, oil and watercolour Eastern Europe traditions and lifestyle prior to the outbreak of World War II.
Between 1944 and 1945 Kádar spent a year in the ghetto of Budapest and made about 50 drawings in which he represented the suffering and pain suffered during the holocaust. He died in 1956 in Budapest.
Kádár did not adhere to one particular style or language. He was ever changing and always assimilating answers. He ventured into expressionism, futurism, constructivism, neo-primitivism and also cubism, which he learned from Picasso. The result of all this was the purest orthodoxy in colour containment and faceted volumes. In his autobiography, Kádar tells us:
“In my works, the subject, motive, is never a consequence of an arbitrary decision, but an intuitive recognition of some inner force”
That’s why he is not concerned with style but with theme, that’s why the subject give us archetypes, because on his journey of introspection he seeks essence.
Laurens is considered along with Jacques Lipchitz to be a cubist sculptor par excellence. He had the privilege of having the very best of teachers: in 1911 he met Georges Braque, with whom he shared a long friendship and whose work would have a decisive influence on his career. From 1913 he applied the precepts of analytic cubism to his production and just two years later, he plunged completely into a fruitful experimental stage of three-dimensional pictorial reality through collage, polychromatic wood and metal constructions. This work occupied him until 1918, when he drifted towards working in stone, terracotta and bronze in a parallel to Lipchitz’s own experimentation.
At the end of the decade, and the beginning of the next decade, Laurens participated in the “call to order”, an expression coined by Cocteau describing the change in cubism after the Great War. Artists as dissimilar as Gris and Severini, but also Lipchitz, Braque and Laurens himself, fed on a wave of renewed classicism whose main defender was Maurice Raynal. It’s main channel of diffusion was the magazine L’esperit nouveau by Jeanneret and Ozenfant. It published articles on Poussin, Cézanne or Corot, as well as other artists considered masters of the “tradition”. This classicism was destined to provide artistic “constants” in the search for modernity and, therefore, to define a new aesthetic. Laurens’ work during these years formed part of this new order, moving away from the cubism of previous years. There was an evolution in modeling that forced the artist to concentrate all his efforts on one surface. At the time these were considered “decorative” works; they expressed the artist’s effort to achieve an integrative harmony in the space for which it was intended.
Laurens used mainly terracotta from the twenties onwards, appreciating the tonalities achieved during the firing process which, demonstrated at the same time the strength and delicacy of the material. - When a sculpture is red, blue, yellow, it will always be red, blue, yellow. But a sculpture that has not been polychromatic bears the movement of light and shadows on it and is constantly changing - he said.
From the 1930s, Laurens began to use large volumes and curved lines distancing himself from his previous style. His female figures that exploit a new sensitivity and eroticism through the use of undulating line, date from this period. This dynamism is also noticeable in his ink drawings and gouaches.
In 1938 he exhibited together with Braque and Picasso, in 1947 at the Venice Biennale as well as at the Galerie d'Art Moderne in Basel and one year before his death, in 1953 he was awarded with the Grand Prize at the Sao Paulo Biennial. He died in Paris in 1954.
"To preserve and express the essential with simple and personal means; join the tradition. There it is, that is what I think is Cubism’s aspiration. Tradition must be continuous under the different appearance of time"
Fernand Léger considered along with Picasso, Braque and Gris to be one of the pillars of Cubism, was born in Argentan, Normandy, to a peasant family. He began his career as a graphic designer in an architecture studio in Caén, moving to Paris at the age of 19 to study at the École des Arts Décoratifs and at the prestigious Julian Academy (1903-1905).
The influence of Parisian movements and artists would have a profound effect on his artistic creation. Cézanne was decisive for Léger as well as for the cubists in general, and Rousseau’s emphasis on colour accompanied him throughout his career.
Between 1910 and 1914 he shared a cubist period with Picasso and Braque, eventually managing to create his own style thanks to his peculiar contrast of colours and shapes, as well as his new way of dealing with perspective. It was also during this period that the renowned gallery owner Kahnweiler became interested in his work and in 1912 encouraged him to exhibit individually in his gallery in Paris.
Coinciding with his close relationship with Delaunay, between 1913 and 1914, his fascination with colour contrast led to a heavy emphasis on geometry and became increasingly abstract with an absence of figures. Léger maintained his relationship with the artist for a long time, but his work was removed from abstract approaches.
On the outbreak of World War I Léger was called up to fight. What he experienced there strengthened his sense of reality and enhanced his interest in mechanical shapes. As a result, work represented figures and machine-like forms in primary colours. His vision of the machine was positive but didn’t idolize in the way futurism did. Nor did he grant it revolutionary power as the Russian constructivists did. His fascination stemmed from the fact that he saw it as an element of the environment and capable of engendering a new beauty.
Léger’s painting celebrates life, the modern city and the machine. In urban landscapes the human figure is included as a mechanical element. During peacetime, he met Le Corbusier with whom he shared a great interest in the machine, Man Ray with whom he collaborated on the film Le Ballet Mecánique and Ozenfant with whom established a free school. All these friendships coincide with Léger’s most purist period.
In 1931 he travelled to the United States for the first time and in 1935 he exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Art Institute of Chicago. Four years later, he moved there to flee World War II and didn’t return to France until the conflict ended. During the following ten years his creative activity was prolific. He was commissioned to paint among other pieces murals for the United Nations in New York.
In 1955 he died in France, shortly after winning the grand prize at the Sao Paulo Biennale.
"Looking for radiance and intensity, I have used the machine as others have used the naked body or still life"
Born in the French city of Bordeaux, André Lhote presents himself as an experimental figure with painting, because he was able to reconcile the novelty of the avant-garde movements with the figuration of the interwar period.
In 1907 he participated in the Salon of Autumn, being able to present his works to the general public, which show a tendency related to fauvism, with a bright palette and a vigorous brushstroke. Likewise, an obvious concern for the structuring of the plans would be a step before a Cubism painting. In this way, Lhote belonged to the group of painters that Apolinaire described in 1910 as the “Scourge of impressionism” in L’intransigeant.
Finally, the discovery of Cubism by Paul Cézanne in 1911 made his paintings find a classical reminiscence with Cubism forms. This led him to become one of the members of the Section d’Or in 1912, showing the representative works of a new aesthetic. The critics considered him as a painter close to Cubism, although not the most faithful representative but a member of tradition and this new aesthetic. For this reason, Lhote assembled a large number of followers and made numerous orders, such as mural painting for the Paris exhibition in 1937.
Later, he would discover Synthetic Cubism when he came into contact with artists like Braque, Blanchard, Metzinger and Severini in 1917, never abandoning his characteristic figuration and even claiming the importance of the represented object.
The French painter also had a passion for teaching, and without a formal education, he founded the Lhote Academy on the Rue d’Odessa in Paris in 1922, where he taught painting and he was able to convey his aesthetic thinking.
André Lhote died in Paris in 1962 being a great teacher and leaving an important work that moves away from the more strict Cubism to give way to a unique and personal interpretation.
“As the color is not pattern and should be extend smooth, assuming the value of "locality" its necessary to resort to a lawful resource to animate its surface. Cézanne, replacing the verb pattern with modulate, indicated the procedure…”
André Lhote, Landscape Treatise. Poseidon, 1985.
Masson was born in 1896 in the French town of Balagny, but he and his family moved to Lille where they lived between 1903 and 1911. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, entering the School of Fine Arts in Paris in 1912. Immediately after, he made several trips to Italy and Switzerland.
In 1915 he fought in the army as an infantryman and in 1917 he was seriously wounded in the Battle of the Somme. Experience of war affected him deeply on a psychological and artistic level. He became interested from then on by the nature and destiny of man, as well as the belief in the symbolic unity of all things.
In 1920 Masson returned to Paris, sharing a studio in the Rue Blomet with artists such as Joan Miró, Antonin Artaud and Jean Dubuffet. With them he experimented with altered states of consciousness to produce art free of rational control. He made a number works of pen and produced by automatic drawing. In 1924, he gave an individual exhibition in the Galerie Simon of the German art dealer Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, one of the most outstanding figures in the modern art market in Paris. It was there that he met André Breton and began to delve into the exploration of the most authentic and enigmatic Surrealism. In 1928, three years after participating in the mythical Première exposition surréaliste at the Pierre Gallery in Paris, he left the surrealist group and shortly after, ended his relationship with André Breton. In 1934 he moved to Catalonia with Ros Makles, who would later become his wife. He rekindled his relationship with André Breton, beginning a second surrealist period in 1937 and he participated once again in the famous Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris.
During World War II he was forced to move to the United States; where he became a great influence on the American abstract expressionists. He didn’t return to Europe until 1947, settling in Le Tholonte near Aix-en-Provence, where he painted numerous landscapes.
Despite exhibiting numerously in the main European capitals between 1950 and 1960, he gained his greatest recognition during the retrospective exhibitions of the Museum of Modern Art of New York and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, which were dedicated to him in 1976.
He died on 28th October 1987 in Paris.
His extensive and varied artistic universe was represented by a pictorial style that came close to Cézanne, expressed interest in Cubism and finally plunged into a stormy relationship with surrealism. It was during the last period that he touched on the abstract.
Currently his work is present in national and international museums and collections, such the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía Art Centre or the Joan Miró Foundation in Spain, MOMA in New York and the Tate Gallery in London.
"The artist must work with the thought that the viewer can understand half of things, not completely described"
Both as a painter and writer Metzinger was at the forefront of the Cubist movement. He was fascinated by modernity and wrote about modern art. Metzinger published Note sur la Peinture in 1910, writing that Picasso and Braque had stripped themselves of the traditional perspective. In 1912, Metzinger together with Gleizes, created the first major treatise and theoretical synthesis of the movement with Du Cubisme.
He arrived in Paris in 1903 to study medicine. However, he soon became a painter, critic and poet. According to Metzinger, a painting by Ingres which fascinated him made him change his mind. His early works influenced by Neo-impressionism, led him to exhibit in the Berthe Weil gallery, where he met Apollinaire and Picasso. He then worked in the Fauvist style, later abandoning it to immerse himself in the Cubist universe. He soon became a key figure in the Puteaux group. His production around 1909 bears witness to his movement towards what was later defined as “Analytic Cubism”, initially totally rejected by critics. In 1911 he participated in the Salon des Indépendents and in 1912 he organized with Picabia, Gleizes, Valensy and Marcel Duchamp the Salon of the Section d’Or, which marked a turning point in Parisian avant-garde art.
At the end of World War I, he would gradually abandon Cubism in favor of what he called “Constructive Realism”. It returned to figure painting within a scheme that still retained a cubist structure. In 1916, the gallery owner Léonce Rosenberg offered him a three- year contract that he later extended to fifteen years. He met Léger in the Galerie de L’Effort Moderne. The period from 1924 to 1930 demonstrated an interest in the mechanical world shared by Léger. Metzinger interpreted it with his very own marked artistic individuality.
After World War II, he undertook a new cubist variant, seeking a plastic stylization of the forms that would lead him to consolidate the forged national and international success that many of his exhibitions document.
The artist died in Paris on 3rd November 1956. His legacy however is still kept alive thanks to collections and public and private institutions around the world.
"Each part of the work has to fit in logically with all the others and each one of them must find its justification in others to the smallest detail"
The world-renowned painter Joan Miró was born in Barcelona in 1893, although as Jacques Dupin stated, he was native to Tarragona and his father’s hometown of Mont-Roig. It was there that he painted his famous La Masia in the early 1920s; a masterpiece of his early style.
Thanks to Josep Dalmau, he met Maurice Raynal and Francis Picabia in 1917. After his first exhibition in 1918 in Galeries Dalmau, he embarked on a trip to Paris in 1920. In the French capital, he was able to meet Picasso while working in Pablo Gargallo’s workshop in Rue Blomet. The Catalan painter also came into contact with the surrealist circle through André Breton in 1925, an introduction that would greatly influence his personal conception of nature. The following year, he moved to a studio located on Rue of Toularque which was shared with Jean Arp and Max Ernst. It was during these years that Miró began his first collages.
In the 1930s Miró had a marked creative crisis that led him to an arduous reflection on painting. His creation focused on the work of new materials such as drawing, collage, and sculpture or bas-relief and being able to explore three dimensions.
In 1937, alongside Picasso’s great work, Miró was able to participate in the famous Spanish Republican Pavilion at the Paris Exhibition. In the early 1940s, the German troop invasion forced him to return to Spain. He settled in his mother’s hometown of Palma de Mallorca. This period is marked by a deep and long-lasting friendship with Matisse and his consecration in the United States, after his retrospective exhibition in 1941 at the MOMA of New York. It was during this vital decade that Miró created his famous series, Constellations, and also began introducing ceramics thanks to Llorens Artigas.
Throughout the sixties and early seventies, his work was characterized by an expressive violence capable of altering his signs. Black would take on a significant force in his work. He worked in depth on the subject of the eye both in the human figure and birds.
On 25th December 1983 Miró died in Palma de Mallorca at the age of 90, becoming one of the key figures to understand the historical development of twentieth century art.
"When Miró picks up a pencil, he seeks to assert himself before others and, above all, before himself, affirm his existence and his freedom, his power over things. Objective representation will provide this security much more easily than a capricious outpouring, whose poetic and marvellous suggestions are only sensitive to adults"
Dupin. Miró. 1993. Pp. 26-27.
Amédée Ozentfant was a French cubist painter. Together with Le Corbusier he established the Purist movement. They did this from both a theoretical point of view and through the critiquing of paintings which included the architecture, the object and the art of technical reproducibility. The movement existed as a result of an attempt at a synthesis between figure and geometry.
Born in Saint-Quentin, he began at the local drawing school in 1904 and the following year he moved to Paris, where he studied architecture and painting. In 1915, he founded the magazine l’Elan, on which Apollinaire, Picasso, Matisse and Gleizes collaborated. Edited until 1916, l’Elan was a platform for developing his theories on Purism.
In 1918 he met Le Corbusier and they began to collaborate closely on the publication of Après le Cubisme, in which they established the principles of Purism. They gave their vision of Cubism committing to a return to clear, precise and expressive forms based on order. The publication coincided with the first purist exhibition, held at the Galerie Thomas in Paris in 1917, in which Ozenfant exhibited. Together they would also establish the influential magazine L’Esprit Nouveau (1920-1925). In the same vein, Ozenfant and Le Corbusier published La peinture modern, also collaborating in the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in the Pavilion of the L’Esprit Nouveau in Paris in 1925.
Another of his great collaborators was Fernand Léger, with whom he opened a painting school in 1924. It was a free workshop where they taught together with Alexandra Exter and Marie Laurencin.
From 1926 he began to abandon the purist style, in favor of compositions with figures. In 1935, he moved to London and in 1939, to the United States. He opened a painting school in New York, a period in which he devoted himself extensively to teaching. He returned to France in 1955, remaining there for the rest of his life. His last works included landscapes where he sensed a partial return of the spirit of Purism. He died in Cannes in 1966.
His work can be seen in different public museums: the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Hermitage Museum, the Kunstmuseum, Basel, the Louvre, the MOMA, the National Gallery of Australia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art of San Francisco or the Tate Gallery in London, among others.
"Purism fears the capricious and the original. Look for the pure element to reconstruct; based on it, some organized paintings that seem to be made by nature itself. (...) art has all rights except that of not being clear"
Ozenfant and Jeanneret; Purism, 1918, in: Calvo Serraller, González García et al., 1999, pg. 84).
Gaston-Louis Roux was born in Provins in 1904 but moved to Paris with his family at the end of World War I. In the French capital he attended the Académie Ranson where he mastered the symbolist painters such as Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier. In 1922 began work as an assistant decorator in Raoul Dufy’s workshop.
At the young age of 23, he met the prestigious gallery owner Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler who would later offer Roux a contract that would last until 1956 when he gave up surrealism and surrendered to realistic painting. In 1929, he gave his first solo exhibition which was remarkably successful. The curator of exhibition; Roger Vitrac would become his great friend. In collective exhibitions he shared exhibition space with great artists like Picasso, Masson, Braque, Gris and Léger, among others. During the thirties his work was also exhibited in Germany and New York.
Roux became involved in the surrealist movement; captivated as he was by the novelty of it. His creations were always tinged with humour. However, he was never an active part of the movement led by Breton. In fact, many of his friends disagreed with the doctrine proposed by Breton. His work had an individuality and spontaneity to it in its use of vivid colors and ease of reflecting the most amazing reality. The combination of biomorphic and geometric forms resulted in surrealist paintings in perfect harmony with what some of his contemporaries like Picasso, Masson, Arp, Max Ernst and Óscar Domínguez experimented with.
In 1932, he became part of the Dakar-Djibouti mission headed by Michel Leiris and designed the cover of the second issue of the magazine Minotaure, dedicated to expedition. He later worked on several Cahiers d’Art publications.
In 1944, Roux’s work regained the brilliance characteristic of the beginning of his career. In 1950, he withdrew from Surrealism and began a new direction in figurative painting. In 1956, he ended his relationship with Kahnweiler and exhibited in many galleries in Paris.
After having become representative of the avant-garde, he felt the need to return to reality. He began work on his new realistic stage considered less substantial than surrealist, until his death in 1988.
"The work of Gaston Louis Roux marvels us because of its poetic strength. We are also surprised by its dynamism. His canvases radiate youth, euphoria of sensibility. They are filled with shapes in motion, aggressive creatures, elemental, cruel as few”
Alejo Carpentier: Chronicles: art, literature, politics. Volume 9. 21st Century, 1986.
Leading internationally renowned artist, Susana Solano represented Spain at the Venice Biennale from 1988 to 1993, exhibited at Documenta in Kassel from 1982 to 1992, and also participated in the Sculpture Project in Münster in 1987. At home her talent has not gone unrecognised and as a result, she was awarded the National Prize for Plastic Arts in 1988 and the CEOE prize for the arts in 1966. In addition, her work is present in the most important public and private collections in Spain.
She began studying Fine Arts in Barcelona. Her foray into sculpture didn’t come until later on in her career. Although she initially focused on painting, her work did not cease to be the most intense on the Spanish sculptural scene in the eighties. Her work is based on an industrial aesthetic with the use of iron or bronze while at the same time bestowing a spiritual concept that combines strength and sensitivity.
Between 1980 and 1981 she created her first work in wood. Work inspired by her fascination with Brancusi and on which the critic Barbara Rose says she grounds the basis of her art. The relationship between artist and art is based essentially on craft and technique, far from any theoretical concept. The artist polishes and forges, but also allows evidence of the roughness and imperfections of the material; an experimentation that has characterized her work.
Perhaps as a result of her exposure to metalworking, her father was a blacksmith, her attitude towards the material is of extreme accessibility, which obviates and confronts the stigma that at certain times the sculptural avant-garde has attached to this medium.
Her process is direct and her mode of execution decisive. Solano doesn’t create a maquette but they appear posteriori. Sculpture rarely needs a sketch that completes and defines the work: the result is already in her mind, and the intermediate steps between the idea and the work should be minimized, giving a sense of immediacy by modelling the iron to her liking. But this apparent simplicity is tinged with experiences and sensations that the artist keeps in her memory and shapes in the metal.
"Today's art is not far from preoccupations of other times, there are only changes in its form of representation"
"You can say that they are endowed with a psychological transparency, which is not to be understood as an absence of mystery, but on the contrary: an invasion of dark intimacy, a subjective incarnation of matter"
CALVO SERRALLER, Francisco: Susana Solano, Galeria Maeght, Barcelona. 1987
Of Breton origin, Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy was born in Paris in 1900. The early deaths of his father and brother Henry marked him as a child, and he had a melancholic and introverted personality.
After his difficult childhood, he joined the Merchant Navy and sailed to Africa, South America and England. Finally, in 1922 after meeting Jacques Prévert, he would return to Paris to paint but with no intention of becoming an artist. However, Tanguy decided to become an artist when he was deeply impressed by Giorgio de Chirico’s work on exhibition in the gallery of the Parisian art dealer Paul Guillaume in 1923.
He quickly joined the surrealists headed by André Breton, assimilating the group’s principles in his canvases. A year after his discovery of Chirico, Tanguy was already actively collaborating in the paper Révolution surréaliste and participating in various activities.
His first canvases date back to 1926 and his work would be exhibited individually in the renowned Galerie Surréaliste in Paris. Likewise, participation in the Galerie au Saere du Printemps allowed him to display his works with artists important as Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró.
During the 1930s, Tanguy was immersed in a bohemian Parisian lifestyle and participated in the most liberal circles. The end of his marriage and the beginning of the relationship with Kay Sage coincide with the period considered by critics as the artist’s most creative. Indeed, between 1933 and 1939 essential changes in his work are perceptible. These included the application of a more lyrical chromatic palette and the use of atmospheric effects.
On completing this masterly stage, he moved to the United States with Kay Sage. They married and converted an old farmhouse into an artists' studio.
Yves Tanguy passed away in January 1955. In September of that same year, the Museum of Modern Art of New York gave a retrospective exhibition of his work, showing the importance of the artist.
"He has succeeded in representing the desert, the coldness, the distance from life, the better, the cosmic inhumanity and the infinite abandonment of horizontality"
Tàpies was born into a bourgeois family in Barcelona. His grandfather´s influence was felt in two areas of Tàpies´ education: his passion for reading (his link to the publishing world) and his association with Catalan republicanism and the cultural environment of the time.
Lung disease which was followed by period of long convalescence, awoke his interest in painting. He decided to abandon his law degree and train himself as an artist. In 1948 Tàpies co-founded the group Dau al Set. He met Miró in person and was influenced by the work of Paul Klee. Three years later he met Picasso in Paris, a city that catapulted him to international success. He participated in the Venice Biennale and exhibited for the first time at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. In the early fifties he discovered his own personal language beginning with material investigations in which he worked with sand, collage and incisions.
His good relationship from 1955 onwards, with the critic and great defender of Informalist art, Michel Tapié, allowed him contact with many of the international avant-garde representatives: Marcel Duchamp, Franz Kline, Willem De Kooning and Saul Steinberg, among others.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he protested against the Franco dictatorship both in his works and in acts of opposition in which he participated.
Later, he was consecrated in the Asian continent thanks to two retrospective exhibitions, one in 1989 in Beijing and another in 1996 on tour in diverse Japanese museums. From then on, oriental culture and thought would become one of the greatest influences on his work, especially Buddhism.
The recognition of Tàpies in his native city culminates in 1990; the year in which his Foundation was inaugurated. The same year, a second inauguration came from the hand of the Sala Antoni Tàpies in the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, institution that also houses his emblematic work The four great chronicles.
Tàpes died in 2012 in his house in Barcelona, he was 88 years old.
“I think a work of art should perplex the viewer, make him meditate on the meaning of life”
The painter Joaquín Torres-García of Uruguayan origin spent much of his life in Europe. He moved to Barcelona in 1891 where he was influenced by Novecentismo and sporadically collaborated with Antoni Gaudí on La Sagrada Familia. Despite these beginnings, Torres-García admired greatly the symbolism of Puvis de Chavannes, classic and above all Greek art as we see in his fresco paintings reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. Torres Garcia experimented with all the trends that influenced him decisively. He didn’t limit himself to the aesthetic that prevailed in the Catalan Novecentismo; he knew how to renounce the classical model both in Italy, where he would approach Futurism and Cubism, and in Paris where he developed a Constructivist language.
Once settled in the French capital from 1926, his work became characterized by formal purification and a geometrization of form, which approached abstract painting. He edited along with other artists like Theodor van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian the constructivist publication Cercle et Carré.
In 1929 he returned to Spain and settled in Madrid in 1932, where he became friends with Federico García Lorca, Benjamín Palencia and Ángel Ferrant. Years later, he returned to his hometown and founded the Association of Constructivist Art.
In the final stage of Torres-García’s work he moved away from strict Cubism and gave way to landscape painting. The painter himself acknowledged that this allowed him to rest from the strict geometric rules of the constructivist ideology. Today several canvases still remain from this period from his stays in Paris, Barcelona or Brussels. They were mostly painted between 1940 and 1948 and show a desire for original composition without falling into the trap of naturalistic copy.
In 1949 he died in Montevideo, an artist widely recognised both in Europe and America.
“My school is the denial of any school”
Georges Valmier was born in Angoulême in 1885 but moved to Paris with his family at the age of 5. He soon developed an interest in drawing and trained until 1907 when he was accepted into studio of Luc-Olivier Merson, where he continued to receive instruction in painting.
After a brief Impressionist period, Georges Valmier’s work inspired by an exhibition of Paul Cézanne acquired new nuances. The Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne in 1907 as well as the exhibition of Georges Braque a year later marked him. From 1910, form in Valmier’s became geometric. This new style was on show at the Salon des Indépendants in 1913. A year later he was drafted into the military and assigned to Toul, where he would meet Albert Gleizes. The small body of work of that period is deeply marked by Cubism and, no doubt, by his contact with Gleizes, whose affinities surpassed the artistic and embraced the spiritual. In 1918, he signed a contract with Léonce Rosenberg who, recognising Valmier´s talent, organized his first individual exhibition in the Galerie l’effort moderne from 3rd to 25th January 1921. The gallery also housed the work of Gleizes, Léger, Metzinger, Herbin, Laurens and Lhóte, artists with whom he shared exhibitions, talk and friendship.
From then on Valmier began to work in oils. These were always preceded by several preparatory studies executed on very thin paper that allowed to follow the evolution of the idea until its execution. It was meticulous work that earned him the nickname “the Fouquet of the modern painting”. Valmier revolutionised forms in his painting, making them more geometric, and touched on abstraction without yet arriving at it.
1928 marked the beginning of his final evolution; the straight line was substituted by curving line. Figures were outlined in black, colours were satin-like, shaded and in greater relief; the theme became cosmic, spiritual. This phase ended at the beginning of thirties, when he turned towards the non-figurative and joined the Abstraction-Creation group.
Valmier’s work is characterized by a rich and complex production, marked by a constant pursuit of perfection through an exceptional colour palette and an unparalleled decorative delicacy among his contemporaries.
"Georges Valmier introduces freshness into cubism, one could almost say naivete, which no one had yet thought to introduce, or which no one had been able to introduce. It may seem paradoxical to speak of naivety by referring to an art which, by its very definitions, confesses to being very wise and cerebral. Valmier has the merit of having known, despite all his science, to preserve this lightness, both in the inspiration and in the expression”
Maurice Raynal, The creators of Cubism, 1935
Van Velde, a Dutch painter was mostly known for his abstract works. However, his artistic career would always alternate between the figurative and abstract. The subtle sometimes monochrome colours are a reflection of his long meditation on light. Through indescribable movements a linear architecture that gradually gives way to depth is created.
Born into a very humble family environment and after moving to different cities, the family finally settled in The Hague in 1903. In 1910, he developed his interest in painting as a result of his work as an apprentice designer, with the important decorative firm Schaijk & Eduard H. Kramers. In 1925 he began to devote himself definitively to painting, trying to carve out a living with his brother after the Great Depression in Paris. He exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants, and after a few years working within figure, Realism and later Fauvism, was attracted to the Cubist movement.
In Paris, in 1937 he met Samuel Beckett, the Irish writer. He became a very important man in Van Velde’s life. It was Beckett who introduced him to influential figures such as Peggy Guggenheim. Her gallery in London exhibited his works in 1938. In the same year, Geer and his wife Elisabeth moved to the South of France, where he met the painter Pierre Bonnard. This brought about a change in his personal and professional life. The Mediterranean light significantly influenced not only his palette of colours, but also his visual language. His contract with gallery owner Aimé Maeght was also of great importance.
He settled in Cachan in 1946, where he spent the rest of his life. Two years later, he was associated with Orphism in the Section d’Or of Jacques Villon. He transformed it within the context of the post-World War II École de Paris into a post-cubism of refined abstract elements. After the war, Van Velde’s works were exhibited at the Gemeentemuseum in the The Hague (1947) and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1950). In 1951, he won first prize at the Menton Biennale, and from 1949 to 1971 he participated annually in the Salon of May. He died in 1977 in Cachan, France.
Currently his works are distributed in several museums and collections in the Netherlands and France.
"I have tried all my life to paint the light. I try to reach the sources of light. The light in question is something spiritual, an absolute notion, as well as the space I want to paint"
Geen Van Velde
Gyözö Vásárhely was born in the Hungarian city of Pécs. He abandoned his medical degree at the University of Budapest when he realized that his true vocation was art. From his scientific training he retained a sense for method, objectivity and an insatiable eagerness for knowledge. He enrolled at the Mühely Academy in Budapest, whose theories were similar to those of the Bauhaus School of Dessau.
In 1930 he moved to Paris, where he began working in prestigious advertising agencies as a graphic artist, beginning his graphic period and giving him a solid foundation for his future as an abstract Kinetic artist. His designs first came to life thanks to an exhibition at the Denise René Gallery in Paris in 1944. The following year he was already devoting himself entirely to painting. In his search for synthesis in art Vasarely found in abstraction his own language of expression. He abandoned the brushstroke and opted for a precise and impersonal technique. In his Cristal-Gordes period it became more defined, based on vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines of 45 degrees, demonstrating that the strength of his work resides in the balance. His personal Hommage à Malevitch, 1952 would establish the starting point for future work that would lead him to be considered the father of Kinetic Art.
1960 marked the rise of his career with works such as R. Cassiopeia, which would soon become an icon. In 1962 he returned to colour and produced series of innumerable prints, putting into practise his ideas on the democratization of art. He promoted a paradigm shift, arguing that art should be understood as a common collective treasure. He achieved his objective thanks to his Multiples (reproduction of his works) and the Polychrome City (staging his art in public buildings). He worked on numerous publications in which he explained that his art was the representation of the universe, because it was based on the principles of physics and astronomy.
His greatest recognition would come thanks to the exhibition in the MOMA, The Responsive Eye in 1965, dedicated to Optical and Kinetic art, which led to his worldwide recognition as the father of Op Art. He was awarded the Guggenheim International Award and the Gran Prix of the Sao Paulo Biennale. His ideas were adopted by a variety of media; from advertising, television and fashion magazines to architecture.
The seventies came and with it the artist was able to savour his greatest tributes: the inauguration of three Vasarely Museums (in Gordes, Pécs and Budapest). His foundation in Aix-en-Provence was one of his greatest achievements. It represented the culmination of his visual arts research and demonstrated that art and architecture could be one.
Eventually, Vasarely fell victim to the excessive popularity of his art. In the very same seventies, his fame began to decline because of hyper-reproducibility and the resulting devaluation of his works. By his death in 1997 he had ceased to be a great figure in twentieth century art.
Over the last decade, Vaserely’s posthumous fame has changed. There is a growing interest from art lovers, an effort by gallery owners to exhibit his work, the market for his art is booming and museums have renewed interest in his work. This revaluation demonstrates Vasarely’s achievement in his time. His excessive success was condemned, but he deserves to be remembered as the father of Op Art par excellence.
"Each work must have two lives: its own life at the scale of the individual, and its multiple life at the scale of the human community"
Vasarely, Victor: Notes brutes, 1960.
A photographer of American origin, Edward Weston began photographing at age of 16, before enrolling at the Effingham School of Photography, Illinois in 1909. After his academic training he carried out several jobs around the country until finally in 1911, he was able to open his own studio in Tropico, California. During this period, Weston alternated his work with the publication of articles in various magazines like Photo Miniature, Photo Era or American Photography. He gained a great reputation as a photographer and won several awards.
In 1912 he met one of his most recurrent models: the photographer Margrethe Mather, of who he would make numerous portraits, especially nudes.
By 1922 his photographs took on a new language by focusing more on detail and experimenting with abstraction. He also contacted Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler and Georgia O’Keeffe while travelling to New York.
After years in his native country, Weston moved to Mexico City where he opened a new photography studio. He was accompanied by his apprentice Tina Modotti, with whom he maintained a romance and who would be his model for the following nudes.
In 1926, Weston expanded the subject of his work to include natural shapes and landscapes. He investigated the representation of textures in close-up when photographing vegetables. Towards the end of 1929 in Carmel, California, he founded the f/64 Group, in reference to the lens overture, along with Sonya Noskowiak, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams and Willard Van Dyke. The main characteristic of his work was based on seeking maximum sharpness in both foreground and distance. His latter works focused on nudes and images of dunes at Oceano, California.
Early symptoms of Parkinson caused Weston to take his last photograph in 1948 at the Point Lobos Natural Reserve. Due to his outstanding and extensive career, the Museum of Modern Art of New York held a major retrospective of his work.
In 1958 Edward Weston died at his home in Carmel, California, after a long illness.
“Weston was an impressive photographer whose images continue to resonate with a contemporary public and whose legacy remains a model for a host of photographers active today”
Abbott, Brett. In focus. Richard Weston. Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Getty publications, 2005, pg. 10.
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