Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture

By Eamonn Rodgers; Valerie Rodgers | Go to book overview

P

painting

In 1990, the largest exhibition of Velázquez’s paintings ever held was mounted by the Prado Museum in Madrid, and was visited by half a million people. Further exhibitions on Ribera in 1992 and in honour of the 250th anniversary of Goya’s birth in 1996 attracted similar numbers of visitors (see also art exhibitions). These facts suggest important implications for the state of Spanish cultural life in the last quarter of the twentieth century. One is the increase in the general public’s interest in painting and the visual arts generally since the early 1980s, an interest not confined to the great artistic achievements of the past. Already in 1983, the International Festival of Contemporary Art, sponsored in Madrid by the ARCO Foundation, had generated huge interest in both viewing and purchasing works of modern art, and was only one of a very large series of exhibitions and regular art fairs held in the 1980s and 1990s.

Undoubtedly, some of this bourgeoning interest was speculative, and reflected the international trend towards acquisition of works of art for investment purposes. There was nevertheless a more generalized desire, reflected also in other areas of cultural life, to make up for the stagnation and neglect of the past. The Velázquez exhibition of 1990, which displayed seventy-nine of the more than ninety canvases he is known to have executed, was the first occasion on which so many works of one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time had ever been on view together. The volume of interest in this exhibition, and the protests of those members of the public unable to gain entry, can be seen as a reaction against cultural deprivation, official inertia and chronic under-resourcing: only a small percentage of the 7,000 or more paintings owned by the Prado are normally on permanent view. Despite a 70 percent increase in state funding for the arts in the 1980s, by 1995, the costs of transport and insurance were making it more difficult to mount exhibitions. Though it is true that most European Union states, with the exception of Italy, cut their arts budgets in 1996, Spain did so by the biggest margin, 13 percent.

Fortunately, however, the arts do not depend solely on state or regional government support, as collecting and exhibiting is an important activity of banks, business firms and private foundations (see also arts funding). This has often made it possible to bring together the work of important artists, some of them Civil War exiles, which has been dispersed through various collections in Spain and other countries. In 1993, for example, Telefónica, the state-owned telephone undertaking, consolidated its collection of paintings in a central location in Madrid, enabling it to give proper recognition to artists who had been marginalized by the Franco regime, such as Juan Gris and Luis Fernández. In the same way, the Mapfre insurance conglomerate mounted an important exhibition in 1993 of the work of the neglected Extremenian artist Juan Baroja, and a retrospective of Julian Grau Santos.

The expansion of interest in painting in the 1980s and 1990s is not confined to the work of Spanish artists, but has taken on an international dimension, especially through the acquisitions

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Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction x
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Structure xiii
  • Architecture xiv
  • A 1
  • Further Reading 7
  • Further Reading 11
  • Further Reading 29
  • Further Reading 37
  • Further Reading 41
  • B 44
  • Further Reading 47
  • Further Reading 65
  • C 70
  • Further Reading 81
  • Further Reading 93
  • Further Reading 100
  • Further Reading 113
  • Further Reading 128
  • D 135
  • Further Reading 136
  • Further Reading 140
  • E 152
  • Further Reading 155
  • Further Reading 166
  • Further Reading 171
  • F 173
  • Further Reading 185
  • Further Reading 206
  • G 213
  • Further Reading 227
  • Further Reading 229
  • Further Reading 231
  • Further Reading 242
  • H 245
  • I 261
  • Further Reading 266
  • J 276
  • Further Reading 280
  • K 283
  • L 285
  • Further Reading 292
  • M 313
  • Further Reading 332
  • Further Reading 335
  • N 359
  • Further Reading 362
  • Further Reading 365
  • O 376
  • P 384
  • Further Reading 429
  • Q 430
  • R 433
  • Further Reading 435
  • Further Reading 436
  • Further Reading 439
  • Further Reading 443
  • References 452
  • S 464
  • Further Reading 471
  • Further Reading 475
  • T 502
  • Further Reading 508
  • Further Reading 509
  • U 526
  • Further Reading 536
  • V 537
  • Further Reading 538
  • Further Reading 539
  • Further Reading 544
  • W 545
  • X 550
  • Y 552
  • Further Reading 553
  • Z 554
  • Index 557
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