L’année où il peint ces deux toiles, il vient de rejoindre les forces républicaines dans leur lutte contre Franco. Il dessine des affiches anti-fascistes et s'engage dans la direction d'une usine de munitions. La violence des combats inspire sa grande réalisation de 1937 intitulée Guerra Civil où il utilise la même technique, la gouache sur une grande feuille de papier, et le même vocabulaire pictural que dans nos deux tableaux.
En 1938, Lam est forcé de fuir l’Espagne et rejoint Paris où il rencontre Picasso et les Surréalistes. Il entamera alors une autre phase de son œuvre avant de repartir pour Cuba en 1941, où il demeurera jusqu’à son retour en Europe en 1952.
A Surrealist painter born in Cuba, Wifredo Lam recently made an important come back with the major retrospective currently organized at the Tate Modern in London. A Latin-American artist of Spanish and African origins, Lam plays with different pictorial traditions, including Surrealism and with absolute originality. The Doble desnudo feminine and El Pianista are two masterful canvases painted in 1936 at the dawn of the Spanish Civil War, in which the artist participated in the defence of Madrid. Awarded a study grant upon his arrival in Spain in 1923, Lam threw himself into studying the old great masters of the Prado museum with his mentor, the academic painter and director of the museum, Fernando Alvrez de Sotomayor. At the same time, he discovered European modernist movements. Quickly integrated into the Spanish avant-garde circles, he studied the work of Cézanne, Matisse, Braque, Juan Gris and Picasso. The Surrealist movement particularly interested him and during these years he developed an interest in ethnography and African statues.
These two major compositions are fascinating for their apparent influence by Matisse and Cubism whilst demonstrating Lam’s very specific vocabulary. Decorative, ethnic elements are visible in the background behind the two nudes. The influence of totemic masks can also be glimpsed in the figure of the pianist. This committed and cosmopolitan artist revealed himself in these colourful works.
The year he painted these canvases, he had just joined the republican forces in their fight against Franco. He designed anti-fascist posters and took part in the direction of a munitions factory. The violence of the fighting inspired his great composition of 1937 entitled Guerra Civil where he used the same technique of gouache upon a large sheet of paper, and the same pictorial vocabulary as in our two paintings.
In 1938, Lam was forced to flee Spain and arrived in Paris where he met Picasso and the Surrealists. He then began a different phase of his work before leaving for Cuba in 1941, where he stayed until his return to Europe in 1952.
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