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Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso.

Spanish art once followed Italian trends and traditions, but in the mid-1800s, that changed. Simultaneously pushed and pulled out of Spain by social unrest at home and artistic freedoms abroad, Spanish artists left both their country and painting traditions behind. An exhibit dedicated to exploring that period of Spanish art is currently on display at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. The "Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso" includes paintings by Mariano Fortuny, Eduardo Zamacois and Joaquin Sorolla. Works by Sorolla, who was the Spanish artist that enjoyed the most success during his own life before Picasso burst onto the scene, are especially prominent in the show.

"Prelude to Spanish Modernism" is the first exhibition that explores the works by artists that eventually became the bridge between the Golden Era of El Greco and worldwide phenomenon of Picasso. The second in a series of three exhibits to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Albuquerque by the Spanish in 1706, "Prelude to Spanish Modernism" focuses on Spanish expatriate artists during 1860 to 1910, an era was a turning point for Spain. With a revolution brewing at home and devastating wars abroad, social and cultural changes swept across the country. Many of those painters eventually returned to their native country but many others never again stepped on Spanish soil.

The artists represented in "Prelude to Spanish Modernism" were among those that embraced foreign cosmopolitanism while continuing the traditions of Spanish Old Masters. Almost completely unknown in Spain, these artists were able to achieve international acclaim and financial success outside of their homeland.

Fortuny visited Morocco, Italy and France, eventually living in Rome and Paris as well as Barcelona and Granada. His painting of nostalgic images of 18th century life became very popular during the 1860s in Paris.

Joaquin Sorrolla and Ignacio Zuloaga also spent time in Paris where they incorporated modernist trends into their work and soon became the leaders of Spanish modernism. Sorolla captured light similar to that of French Impressionism, but with the sense of realism of Spanish master Velasquez. One of his most famous paintings, "Las dos hermanas, Valencia" (1909), is a highlight of the show.

Zuloaga, influenced by El Greco, painted portraits of common people, such as his defiant bullfighter in "El toreador, El Segovianito" (1912), one of the most well known paintings in the exhibit. Zuloaga had wanted to be a bullfighter in his youth and painted several portraits of toreadors. In "El Segovianito" his insight into the sport along with his determination to show more realistic images, rather than the heroic, always victorious bullfighter, resulted in a portrait of a sad, dour young man. The painting was part of a group of Zuloaga's works that traveled throughout the United States between 1916 and 1918, where unlike Spain, Zuloaga enjoyed significant success.

Comprised of works on loan from many private collections as well as American and European museums and institutions, "Prelude to Spanish Modernism" was curated by Dr. Mark Roglan, Senior Curator of the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University and Ellen Landis, Curator of Art Emerita of The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. The two mounted the exhibition and organized the publication of its accompanying bilingual catalog.

"Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso" closes on November 27 and then travels to Southern Methodist University in Dallas where it will on display December 11, 2005 to February 26, 2006. The third and final exhibition in the series, "Picasso to Plensa: A Century of Art from Spain," will open at The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History in mid-December.

For more information about The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the "Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso" exhibit and "Picasso to Plensa: A Century of Art from Spain, " visit museum online.
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Title Annotation:Spanish paintings from mid 1800s; exhibition
Date:Nov 6, 2005
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