Puerta del Sol: Visual Arts

Botero on Abu Ghraib

June 22, 2005


Fernando Botero, the Colombian artist best-known for his depictions of which are often seen simply (and wrongly) as postcard cute, and whose statues are dotted over Madrid, has converted his sense of injustice at the abuses of Abu Ghraib into a series of startling paintings which form part of a retrospective of his work in Rome that started last week. Further paintings here: prepare to be shocked all over again. None of the paintings are for sale, with Botero preferring to keep them on display in the world's museums, lest we forget. There's a nice thread on the story at the Daily Kos, from about a month ago: I've been slow on this. Feeling the world needed to know, I also posted on this subject to the often wonderful Metafilter, where it provoked a fairly lengthy thread. If you'd like some lighter Botero after that, go for a classic interpretation of Las Meninas.


Californian Man Pissarro'd Off

May 11, 2005


Disturbing the past: 84-year-old Claude Cassirer of San Diego has filed a lawsuit to recover the above strokes of genius by Camille Pissarro, "Rue Saint-Honore, Afternoon, Rain Effect", claiming that it was taken from his family by the Nazis. It now hangs in Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. A fine painting, which fills me with nostalgia for the good old days when it used to rain.


Dalí in Philadelphia

April 28, 2005

"...what is most solid and substantial about Dalí is very specific and not wildly complex qualities: the particular gleaming surfaces of his paintings, with their often large areas of a single, pulsating color; his feeling for the transient, soft light of dawn or dusk and for the brilliantly hard light of a sunny summer afternoon by the Mediterranean; and his astounding ability to delineate and make us feel the simmering strength in tiny, tightly wound concentrations of lines, dots, or shapes." Today's reading: a Philadelphia exhibition of Salvador Dalí gets the NYRB treatment this week.


January 2, 2005

Click here for an enlarged view of this image
The Prado exhibition on the Spanish portrait is wowing them worldwide with another month to run. I've made two attempts to get in so far, but the queues were too long and time too pressing, making John Berger's observation in an otherwise entertaining article that "the chance is that there are not too many other people at the exhibition" look slightly odd. "What is hanging in the air," writes Berger, "is a multitude of unspoken questions and answers emerging from a hundred lives." Meanwhile, enjoy El Greco's curiously modern Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino. (The typically lavish catalogue - in Spanish only, I should imagine, knowing the Prado - can be bought here.)