New 19th and 20th century Paintings for the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

1. Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Collage-Painting, 1934
Graphite on paper and ink
on sandpaper - 37 x 23 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art
de Catalunya
Photo : MNAC

30/11/11 - Acquisitions - Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya - Following its acquisition of two 16th century altarpieces (see article in French), the MNAC, bounding forward in time, has acquired four works from the late 19th, early 20th century which joined the museum in July 2011 through a tax deductible "acceptance in lieu". Executed by Catalan artists who worked in Paris, they reflect the artistic exchanges between France and Spain at that period.
The first is an "assassination of painting", the assassin being Miró who, in 1933 and 1934, rejected traditional pictorial techniques and produced a series of collages, with a particular emphasis on the use of sandpaper (ill. 1). Surprisingly, the MNAC until now had only one work by this artist who wished to become an "International Catalan" : a Composition for a René Char Poem, the Complaint of the Lizard in Love (1948). In the 1930’s, Miró visited Catalonia on a regular basis, residing somewhere between Mont Roig and Barcelona ; he of course influenced the artists in this city and notably the association ADLAN (Amigos del Arte Nuevo), directed by Joan Prats and Joaquim Gomis.

2. Ramon Casas (1866-1932)
Moulin de la Galette Interior, c.1890-1891
Oil on Canvas - 78.5 x 68.5 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Photo : MNAC

Ramón Casas, some of whose works are currently showing at the Orangerie in Paris (see article in French), enjoyed observing the customers at the famous Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre during one of his lengthy stays in Paris. This newly acquired canvas does not convey the usual commotion of the renowned café, rather the loneliness of a young woman who is either staring into space or else watching the whirling dancers not shown in the composition, and seated across from a couple absorbed in each other’s company (ill. 2). Above her, much like a daydream floating in her mind, a musician is playing the piano ; we understand the layout of the place more clearerly in another canvas by Casas held at the Museo del Cau Ferrat in Stiges, while yet a third provides an outdoor view. The painting here clearly reveals the influence of Degas, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec ; on his return, the artist transplanted some of that Parisian universe to Barcelona by founding the Quatres Gats cabaret, modeled on the Chat Noir, as well as a journal to promote Catalan Modernism for besides creating portraits, caricatures and posters, he also participated very actively in renewing Catalan painting alongside of his friend Rusiñol.
Moulin de la Galette Interior, exhibited in November 1891 at the Sala Parés in Barcelona, is a perfect complement to the magnificent ensemble of paintings and drawings by the artist already held by the museum, which highlighted his work in an exhibition there in 2001.

3. Hermen Anglada Camarasa (1871-1959)
The White Ball, c.1900
Oil on Panel - 49 x 75.5 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Photo : MNAC

4. Hermen Anglada Camarasa (1871-1959)
The Box, c.1901-1902
Oil on Panel - 32 x 40 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Photo : MNAC

Anglada Camarasa belongs to the second generation of Modernist painters. Two of his works have now joined the museum : The White Ball (ill. 3) and The Box (ill. 4) correspond to his first, or Parisian, period, influenced by Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, during which he illustrated scenes from the city’s night life. This world of glitter is made up of dissolute forms and lifestyles, inhabited by luminous, vague and suggestive figures who despite their whiteness are anything but pure. There all is but luxury, drugs and voluptuousness, gallantry and prostitution in these establishments devoted to entertainment, seen here under the new electric lighting. The artist, who gained international fame, is not well represented in the museum. Later, his work turned to Spanish folklore for inspiration, becoming more exuberant and colorful. He also produced sophisticated portraits, of female nudes or scantily clad in brilliant veils, before finishing his career in Mallorca where he devoted his time to painting landscapes and still-lifes.

5. Feliu Elias (1878-1948)
The New Hat, c.1935
Oil on canvas - 65 x 54 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Photo : MNAC

6. Marià Fortuny i Marsal (1838-1874)
Carmen Bastián Granada, c.1871-1872
Oil on Canvas - 45 x 62 cm
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Photo : MNAC

In concluding, two women, one coquettish, the other a gypsy, exhibit their distracted or provocative nudity on the walls of the MNAC. The first is by Feliu Elias, painter, caricaturist and art critic (ill. 5) ; the second, purchased from the Oriol Gallery for 300,000€, is by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (ill. 6), a pillar of 19th century Catalan painting, who produced works illustrating historical anecdotes and Oriental themes which met with widespread international success (see article in French). Both artists toy with the perception of nudity, all the more noticeable and everyday because it is only partial. However, they are no match for Manet, master of them all at this very game.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, vendredi 2 décembre 2011

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