Lot 13
  • 13

Manolo Valdés

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  • Manolo Valdés
  • IVY
  • stamped M. V. and numbered 2/4
  • aluminium

Catalogue Note

Much of Valdés’ œuvre is concerned with the legacy of the great classical masters, notably Goya, El Greco, Zurbarán, Ribera and, above all, Velázquez. Taking images from iconic works and transposing them into his own through endless permutations of colour, scale and medium, he creates what he has called ‘the product of relived experiences’ – a commentary on artistic tradition. Valdés takes inspiration not just from the Old Masters, but from modern artists, too. The present work, Ivy, is partly inspired by a Matisse painting; the elegant countenance, distinguished only by the brow and line of the nose, bears the influence of the Fauve’s early portraits such as Woman with a Hat. But this work was also the fruit of happenstance, as Valdés has explained: ‘one day, while strolling in Central Park, I saw a group of butterflies that had landed on top of a sculpture and the idea of the headpiece was born.’ The elaborate headpieces which epitomise Valdés’ sculpted female heads recall the early portraits of Matisse and Kees van Dongen, further establishing the link with tradition.

The beguiling fan-like headdress imbues the sculpture with a sense of movement and weightlessness, its solid forms dissipating into the surrounding space. At once monumental and accessible, patent yet enigmatic, Ivy is characterised by a unique approach to volume and materiality that has become the defining quality of Valdés’ large-scale sculptures and accounts entirely for their powerful, mesmerising presence.

New York based painter and sculptor Manolo Valdés began his career as a member of Equipo Crónica, a group of three young Spanish artists active between 1964 and 1981 whose large-scale Pop-inspired canvases incorporated social commentary and art historical reference with stylised pastiches of Masters old and modern. The group disbanded in 1981 upon the death of one of its members, Rafael Solbes, precipitating a new direction for Valdés as a solo artist; that year saw Valdés’ first stand-alone exhibition at Galerie Maeght in Barcelona and the emergence of an artist whose work has sought to engage contemporary art with tradition and to revive the figurative tendency in both painting and sculpture.