Manolo Valdés (b.1942) is one of Spain’s most important and respected artists and is considered to be one of the most original and versatile artists working today. For Valdés the history of art is a major source of inspiration as he looks to the old masters, such as Velázquez, Cranach, van Eyck, Fra Filippo Lippi , as well as the modernists, Picasso and Matisse. However, he finds more than just inspiration in the works of these artists; he does not simply copy the work of his artistic forebears but uses their work “as a pretext” (“como pretexto”) to create an entirely new aesthetic object. He employs his painterly arsenal: mounds of dense oil pigment, torn and reassembled bits of burlap, to create a large scale head derived from a Matisse painting or a sculpture consisting of an assemblage of pieces of alabaster or rare and exotic wood evoking three dimensional marquetry to create the imposing “Menina” or the “Dama a Caballo” derived from the paintings of Diego Velázquez.* Velázquez has had the greatest influence on Valdés’ art; the 17th-century Spanish Baroque master has guided Valdés over the years through a broad range of endeavors, from large scale painting to monumental sculptures. His series of large bronze figures with billowing gowns, are composites distilled from images in Velázquez’s masterpiece of 1656, Las Meninas, in the Prado in Madrid.* Furthermore Valdés’ relationship with art history and historical places can be seen in his installation of the Reina Marianas and Meninas in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris (2005), a further installation of paintings and sculptures in the Chateau de Chenonceau (2005) and more recently the 2010 installation in the Chateau de Chambord. •
His work is included in more than forty public collections including the Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Menil Foundation, Houston, Texas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
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