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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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Londres

Manolo Valdés
B. 1942
MENINA
marble
133 by 103 by 63 cm. 52 3/8 by 45 1/2 by 24 3/4 in.
Executed in 2012.
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Provenance

Marlborough Fine Art, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Description

Having initially come to fame in the 1960s through Pop art group Equipo Crόnica, Manolo Valdés has since made a name for himself creating simple beguiling sculptures, most famously those which quote works by Old Masters including Rubens, Matisse, Ribera, and Velázquez. Menina directly references Velázquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas (1656) – a portrait of the Infanta Margarita, the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain and his second wife Mariana, and her ladies-in-waiting. Valdés concentrates on the sole figure of the princess, decontextualising her from her original surroundings and reducing her to her most basic forms. The infanta’s dress, so richly detailed in Velázquez’s painting, is simplified to a series of smooth rounded forms, embellished only by the natural imperfections in the marble. Despite the immense weight of the material and the life-sized proportions of the sculpture, Menina maintains a delicate air facilitated by its modern aesthetic. Guided by this streamlined set of aesthetic principles, Valdés’ paraphrasing of the Old Masters provokes a meditation on ideas of cultural inheritance. In doing so, Valdés goes beyond mere appropriation of Velázquez’s work and instead reinterprets it for the contemporary age.

More than any other artist, Velázquez has served as a point of reference and inspiration for Valdés. Of the masterpiece Las Meninas, Valdés has said: “Indeed, I feel a great fascination for this painting…It is an image that I can instantly relate to different motives, a subconscious motivation that may resemble a bell or other similar analogue images. Now, however, I no longer tried to limit myself in that aspect, but Las Meninas is an image that continues to interest me and, for me, provides great strength” (Manolo Valdés cited in: Exh. Cat., Barcelona, Fundació la Caixa, Manolo Valdés in Barcelona: Esculturas Monumentales, 2008, pp. 109-12). Perhaps what captivates Valdés about the infanta Margarita is her unreadable expression, translated in Menina as a faceless figure. The tactility of the marble surface with its cracks and crevices responds to the intangibility of the infanta’s emotional state.

Valdés serves as a translator of art history, reinterpreting old masterpieces into a language understood by contemporary audiences to create a dialogue between past and present that breathes new life and understanding into our cultural experience. While the life-size scale and technical mastery of Menina is enough to secure Valdés' place as a master of contemporary Spanish art, it is his ability to reconsider the past for the present age that confirms it.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
Londres