Meadows Museum announces new acquisitions by modern Spanish painters
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Meadows Museum announces new acquisitions by modern Spanish painters
Carlos Vázquez Úbeda (Spanish, 1869–1944), Mozos de escuadra (Catalan Police Arresting a Romani Couple), 1906. Oil on canvas, 78 x 94 in. (198.1 x 238.8 cm). Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase with funds from The Meadows Foundation, MM.2022.03. Photo by Kevin Todora.

DALLAS, TX.- The Meadows Museum, SMU, announces the addition of three paintings to their acclaimed collection of Spanish art, thus supporting the Museum’s mission to advance the appreciation of the arts and culture of Spain in the United States. The charming Portrait of Vicenta Beltrán de Lis Espinosa de los Monteros (1845), by Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz; the social realist work Mozos de Escuadra (Catalan Police Arresting a Romani Couple) (1906), by Carlos Vázquez Úbeda; and the abstract oil on canvas Yellows Contained (1970), by José Guerrero join the Meadows Museum’s permanent collection. Each of these paintings are the first by their makers to enter the Meadows collection. Two etchings from Pablo Picasso’s The Vollard Suite (Suite Vollard) (1933), were also acquired by donation.

“We are excited to welcome these works to the Meadows Museum, where in addition to engaging our audiences, they will become unique teaching opportunities for students. Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, Carlos Vázquez Úbeda, and José Guerrero were accomplished artists working with varied subject matter and techniques during the modern period. Whether for a wealthy patron, a salon, or a commercial gallery, each work responds to the demands of the market,” said Amanda W. Dotseth, the museum’s Linda P. and William A. Custard Director. “While these artists may not be household names in the US, their work engages with broader international trends in which, naturally, Spanish artists were participants. The three paintings not only attest to technical and stylistic shifts, but to the movement away from elite portraiture to that of social realism and, ultimately, to the international, and presumably democratic, language of abstraction.”

Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (Spanish, 1815–1894), Portrait of Vicenta Beltrán de Lis Espinosa de los Monteros, 1845. Oil on canvas, 45 1/4 x 34 1/4 in. (115 x 87 cm). Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase in memory of Dr. Mark A. Roglán with funds gifted by Linda Perryman Evans, MM.2023.01. Photo courtesy of Galería Caylus, Madrid.

Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz came from one of the most prominent artistic dynasties in Spain; the Madrazos were painters, brokers, museum professionals, and diplomats. Federico’s father, José de Madrazo, was the first director of the Prado Museum. His brother Raimundo de Madrazo was a celebrated artist also represented in the Meadows collection. His sister Cecelia de Madrazo married the painter Mariano Fortuny. This painting highlights Federico de Madrazo’s ability to capture likeness at a time when photography was just becoming popular. His vibrant use of color and realism, together with varied technique–more precise for the facial features but loose and painterly for her dress and the landscape beyond–present a compelling argument in favor of painting for the genre of portraiture. The young girl holds an oak leaf in her right hand, which seems to be a playfully simple gesture to the autumnal landscape beyond, but in fact references her family crest, which contains an oak tree and is therefore an overt nod to her nobility. The jump rope in her left hand celebrates her childhood, while the statue of a woman on the patio foreshadows her impending womanhood. Apart from painting society portraits like this one, Federico de Madrazo also acted as an intermediary between Spanish aristocratic families who wanted to sell their collections and the often foreign buyers seeking to build up their own. He kept excellent inventories of his activities and, it is thanks to these, that details of this commission are known. Indeed, Madrazo was contracted to paint a “full-length portrait of a granddaughter of Bertran de Lis Vicentita” in 1845. The painting will go on view in the fall.

Carlos Vázquez Úbeda (Spanish, 1869–1944), Mozos de escuadra (Catalan Police Arresting a Romani Couple), 1906. Oil on canvas, 78 x 94 in. (198.1 x 238.8 cm). Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase with funds from The Meadows Foundation, MM.2022.03. Photo by Kevin Todora.

Carlos Vázquez Úbeda began drawing at a young age before seeking formal academic training at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Madrid when he was seventeen. Soon after, he moved to Paris, where he studied under the famous academic painter Léon Bonnat. Vázquez Úbeda was an early and important participant in the development of Modernisme, an artistic movement centered in Barcelona that connected and transcended the visual and literary arts. The movement is perhaps best known outside of Spain as the one that nurtured the young Picasso’s talent before he moved to Paris. Vázquez Úbeda frequently exhibited in the Salons and International Exhibitions, where in 1892, 1899, and 1901, he was awarded medals. He won an additional medal at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris, where he also exhibited several times at the Salon and was appointed as a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1929. Catalan Police Arresting a Romani Couple is perhaps the best-known and most celebrated painting of Vázquez Úbeda’s career. This large canvas depicts an imagined historical episode from a major event in the history of Spain’s Romani population known as the Great “Gypsy” Round-up (Gran Redada de Gitanos) in which, by secret order, Romani families across Spain were separated and incarcerated. In the years surrounding the painting’s creation, its execution and social-realist subject matter received critical and public praise internationally. The painting was incredibly well-received in the 1907 Paris Salon, earning Vázquez Úbeda the silver medal and granting him an appointment to the Knights of the Order of Alfonso XII. The painting will go on view in the museum’s galleries in the fall.

José Guerrero (Spanish, 1914–1991), Yellows Contained, 1970. Oil on canvas, 59 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (152 x 127 cm). Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase, MM.2023.02. © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid. Photo courtesy of Alcalá Subastas, Madrid.

José Guerrero is one of the most significant abstract Spanish painters of the second half of the twentieth century. In contrast to many of his contemporaries who emigrated to Paris, Guerrero spent most of his career in postwar New York City just as it emerged as the international capital of the art world. In New York, he developed a gestural abstract style that responded to his contemporaries in Abstract Expressionism such as Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Robert Motherwell. In 1954 his work was acquired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and shortly after, the prominent gallerist Betty Parsons (1900–1982) organized his first solo exhibition. By the late 1960s, he began to pare down the immense gestural brushstrokes for which he was known in favor of more restrained compositions. By 1970, he channeled this interest into one of his most celebrated series entitled Fosforescencias (Phosforesences). Yellows Contained is an early work from this series and explores the formal qualities of matchboxes in which that familiar, everyday object served as a pretext for Guerrero to experiment with form, color, and the repetition of shapes. Thanks in part to their scale, the match heads transform into a sequence of seemingly architectural black arches; the rectangular matchsticks create a row of yellow columns; and the purple outlines loosely, if luminously, project these figures to the fore. Yellows Contained demonstrates Guerrero’s enduring investment in creating dialogues between vibrant colors and contrasting forms. The painting will go on view this summer.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Minotaur Caressing a Sleeping Woman (Minotaure caressant une dormeuse), plate 93 from The Vollard Suite (Suite Vollard) 1933. Etching on paper, 13 1/4 x 17 1/4 in. (33.7 x 43.8 cm). Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Gift of the Gould Whaley Family, MM.2022.05. © 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Kevin Todora.

Pablo Picasso created The Vollard Suite, a collection of 100 etchings, for Ambroise Vollard (1867–1939), one of the most important French art dealers of the twentieth century. Picasso adopted the minotaur as an alter ego in the 1930s and used this figure as a vehicle by which to explore his fascination with Classicism. In Minotaur Caressing a Girl, the central figures are flanked on the right by two classical characters crowned with flowers. Surveying the entire episode from the background is a large portrait sketch of a bearded figure; he is either part of a work of art that decorates the wall, or perhaps Picasso’s interpretation of the omniscient artist watching over the scene. The minotaur is portrayed many times throughout the The Vollard Suite, often in a sketchy, one-dimensional manner, like in Minotaur Caressing a Girl. Minotaur Caressing a Sleeping Woman depicts a woman asleep in bed with the minotaur looming over her body. Here, however, the minotaur is composed differently and brings dimension to the composition, in a way that contrasts with the form of the sleeping woman. Like Minotaur Caressing a Girl, as well as many other scenes from the suite, these compositions can be interpreted to imply an assault by the minotaur on the female figures; to contemporary viewers, they raise questions about consent and the artist’s intentions.

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