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SPANISH PAINTING

Baroque

Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary baroque period, important as a portrait artist. In addition to numerous renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance, he created scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family, other notable European figures, and commoners. In many portraits, Velázquez gave a dignified quality to less fortunate members of society like beggars and dwarfs. In contrast to these portraits, the gods and goddesses of Velázquez tend to be portrayed as common people, without divine characteristics. Besides the forty and 22 portraits of Philip by Velázquez, he painted portraits of other members of the royal family, including princes, infantas (princesses), and queens

Rococo

Francisco Goya was a portraitist and court painter to the Spanish Crown, a chronicler of history, and, in his unofficial work, a revolutionary and a visionary. Goya painted the Spanish royal family, including Charles IV of Spain and Ferdinand VII. His themes range from merry festivals for tapestry, draft cartoons, to scenes of war, fighting and corpses. In his early stage, he painted draft cartoons as templates for tapestries and focused on scenes from everyday life with vivid colors. During his lifetime, Goya also made several series of "grabados", etchings which depicted the decadance of society and the horrors of war. His most famous series of "grabados" are the Black Paintings, painted at the end of his life. This series features works that are obscure in both color and meaning, producing uneasiness and shock.

20th Century

Picasso's Blue Period (1901–1904),which consisted of somber, blue-tinted paintings was influenced by a trip through Spain. The Museu Picasso in Barcelona features many of Picasso's early works, created while he was living in Spain, as well as the extensive collection of Jaime Sabartés, Picasso's close friend from his Barcelona days who, for many years, was Picasso's personal secretary. There are many precise and detailed figure studies done in his youth under his father's tutelage, as well as rarely seen works from his old age that clearly demonstrate Picasso's firm grounding in classical techniques. Picasso presented the most durable homage to Velázquez in 1957 when he recreated Las Meninas in his characteristically cubist form. While Picasso was worried that if he copied Velázquez's painting, it would be seen only as a copy and not as any sort of unique representation, he proceeded to do so, and the enormous work—the largest he had produced since Guernica in 1937—earned a position of relevance in the Spanish canon of art.


Salvador Dalí was one of the most important painters of the 20th century. In 1922 Dalí moved in to the "Residencia de Estudiantes" (Students' Residence) in Madrid. Exhibitions of his works in Barcelona attracted much attention, and mixtures of praise and puzzled debate from critics. Upon Francisco Franco's coming to power in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Dalí came into conflict with his fellow Surrealists over political beliefs. As such Dalí was officially expelled from the predominantly Marxist Surrealist group. Dalí's response to his expulsion was "Surrealism is me." Andre Breton coined the anagram "Avida Dollars", by which he referred to Dalí after the period of his expulsion; the Surrealists henceforth would speak of Dalí in the past tense, as if he were dead. The surrealist movement and various members thereof (such as Ted Joans) would continue to issue extremely harsh polemics against Dalí until the time of his death and beyond. The fact that he chose to live in Spain while it was ruled by Franco drew criticism from progressives and many other artists. In 1959, Andre Breton asked Dalí to represent Spain in the Homage to Surrealism Exhibition, celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary of Surrealism, among the works of Joan Miró, Enrique Tábara, and Eugenio Granell. In 1960 Dalí began work on the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí in his home town of Figueres. In 1982 King Juan Carlos of Spain bestowed on Dalí the title Marquis of Púbol.

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