Contemporary Curated

Contemporary Curated

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 33. MANOLO VALDÉS | LA DAMA DE ARGEL.

Auction Closed

November 19, 12:29 PM GMT


120,000 - 180,000 GBP

Lot Details



b. 1942


signed, titled and dated 2011 on the reverse

oil, collaged burlap and thread on burlap

221 by 137.2 cm. 87 by 54 in.

Marlborough Gallery, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Poignant and grand, La Dama de Argel is an exceptional work from Manolo Valdés’ prolific and celebrated artistic output. Joyfully executed with an emphasis on craftsmanship, this monumental painting portrays a graceful woman in a statuesque profile, partially concealed by a deep green and red veil. Working in oil on layers of burlap, Valdés builds his portraits from swathes of impasto paint to create richly textured and vibrant compositions. The lavish coatings of paint over coarse material lend the appearance of patchwork, and indeed Valdés weaves together an array of sources in his expressive works.

Created in 2011, La Dama de Argel takes inspiration from from great masters of art history – from Sandro Botticelli to Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez to Jan Van Eyck. Further, the defined profile of the female protagonist, her light-toned complexion, and sophisticated headpiece, are reminiscent of the motif of Botticelli's 1484 masterpiece Portrait of a Young Woman. Employing his own immensely personal and visual language to skilfully pay tribute to these Old Masters, Valdés uses their work as a pretext to create an entirely new aesthetic. In the present work, by augmenting the figure’s scale and minimising facial details, the artist creates an abstract expression which places the subject into a modern setting. Valdés has explained the connection to his prominent art paragons, “When I touch on historical painters, I make comments based on the specificity of my language and not on that of literature or poetry. I am just a narrator who comments on the history of painting in various ways, using new materials: it is like a game that consists of changing the code and the key to the artwork… Many of my colours, materials and textures are the product of relived experiences of other masters. My painting involves much refection” (Manolo Valdés cited in: Exh. Cat., Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Manolo Valdés: 1981-2006, 2006, pp. 20-21).

The vibrancy emanating from La Dama de Argel is characteristic of Valdés’ highly personal creative oeuvre. His portraiture actively addresses issues ranging from representation and appropriation to heritage, style, and tradition. In the present work, the artist’s original and technical skill are immediately apparent; the diverse media, large-scale composition and direct concern with art history.