Many things happened last week in the world of Spanish and Latin American visual culture.
London’s Sir John Soane Museum announced a new series of annual lectures and prizes intended to raise the profile of architects, artists and writers who broadened society’s understanding of architecture and the built environment. The inaugural lecture, scheduled for November 1 at the Royal Institution in London, will be delivered by Rafael Moneo, designer of the Prado’s Jeronimos Extension, which opened in 2007. As reported by The Art Newspaper, Moneo will be awarded the Soane Medal, a copy of the medal presented in 1835 to Sir John Soane by “the Architects of England”, in recognition of his “essential services to architecture”.
On 21 July The Art Newspaper reported that Spanish Police recovered three paintings by Francis Bacon stolen from the private collection of Bacon’s acquaintance José Capelo in Madrid in 2015. A tip-off from the Art Loss Register enabled the recovery, which follows the arrest of ten people associated with the robbery in the past two years. Bacon portrayed Capelo in a work of 1987 now owned by the Swiss Galerie Gmurzynska and in one of his last paintings, the 1991 Triptych now at the MOMA.
A less positive news comes from US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The daughter of Brazilian artist Lygia Pape, whose monographic exhibition A Multitude of Forms closed yesterday at Met Breuer, has sued LG Electronics, several retailers and Getty Images Korea for copyright infringement. According to the complainants, LG Electronics approached the Pape estate (Projeto Lygia Pape) to license her work Ttéia (2003), which they wished to use as default wallpaper and packaging for their new phone K20 V. Pape’s estate refused LG’s request, citing the artist’s life-long resistance to the commercialisation of her work. Nevertheless, LG persevered in their use of the image, using a too-close unauthorized derivation of the work on the phone’s wallpaper and packaging. As a result, Pape’s daughter has asked the Court to recall the packaging, advertising, and other materials that contain the infringing image, including the phone itself if necessary. As noted by the plantiffs’ lawyer John Cahill, ‘This is an extreme, perhaps unique, case in which a multinational corporation—fully aware that it was doing wrong—abused a work of fine art in the service of the profit motive.’ A positive resolution of the case may ensure better protection for artists’ rights in the future.
To end on a lighter note, Dalí’s famously exuberant mustache is still in perfect shape, almost 30 years after the artist’s passing. The information was reported by Narcís Bardalet, the embalmer who took care of the Surrealist’s body after his death in 1989, following the exhumation of Dalí’s corpse last week. Ordered by a Spanish Court, the exhumation will enable a DNA examination to determine whether María Pilar Abel Martínez is an illegitimate daughter of the artist, as she claims since 2007.
A unique landscape by artist Diego Velázquez, painted for King Philip IV of Spain, is on loan from the National Gallery in London for the first time, and is exhibited at the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy in Dorset.
La Tela Real takes pride of place in the dining room, while Kingston Lacy’s The Judgement of Solomon by Sebastiano del Piombo is on loan to the National Gallery, where it joined a major exhibition charting Sebastiano’s extraordinary friendship with Michelangelo, master of the Italian High Renaissance.
La Tela Real is a landscape scene depicting a type of boar hunt, staged by the Spanish kings on feast days and to honour special guests. The quarry was hunted within a canvas (tela) enclosure (so giving the name La Tela Real, i.e. ‘The Royal Enclosure’). Owing to the tremendous expense and labour involved, only the king could afford such a spectacle.
Identifiable figures include Philip IV, in the right mid-ground, meeting the charge of the boar. Immediately to his left is the powerful Count-Duke of Olivares (first minister to the king) and beyond him most likely the Infante Don Carlos, Philip’s brother. The king’s first wife, Isabella of Bourbon, watches the events from the comfort and safety of one of the carriages inside the enclosure.
La Tela Real is exceptional amongst Velázquez’s body of work. An extremely rare and individual landscape, it was designed around 1636-8 for The Torre de la Parada, Philip IV’s hunting lodge near Madrid. At Kingston Lacey it will be possible to enjoy an intimate encounter with this artwork, similar to that enjoyed by the king and his court in its original private, royal setting.
Moreover, it will be possible to enjoy the painting together with Kingston Lacy’s remarkable collection of Spanish paintings, assembled by William John Bankes and proudly displayed in his opulent ‘Spanish Room’. The finest works include Velázquez’s portrait of Cardinal Camillo Massimi, and a near-contemporary copy of the artist’s Las Meninas, one of the most enigmatic and famous images in the history of Western art.
To reveal the story of La Tela Real and the fascinating associations with Kingston Lacy’s own outstanding collections, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, will give a lecture looking at Velázquez as an artist along with the history surrounding Philip IV of Spain and the art of boar hunting.
The lecture will take place on 21 July. Tickets are £12 per person, with a welcome drink from 6.30pm, time to explore the state rooms at Kingston Lacy, before the lectures start at 7pm.
Tickets must be booked in advance on 0344 249 1895 or online.
Visitors can see La Tela Real on display until September. The house at Kingston Lacy opens via a timed ticket system. Tickets can be booked online.
The Coll & Cortés Medieval Spain Seminar in the Research Forum South Room in the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. By Dr Encarna Montero, University of Valencia
6-7pm, Monday 18th January, followed by a drinks reception. Free attendance, open to all
A significant number of sources for the study of architectural practise survive from medieval Spanish kingdoms when compared to other European territories. Apprenticeship contracts, drawings, sketches and masons’ inventories shed light on the means by which architectural knowledge was transmitted in the Iberian peninsula between 1370 and 1450. This body of evidence – much of it newly discovered – also challenges many long-held assumptions, even if several key problems remain unresolved: the training requirements for masons’ apprentices, the specific skills that defined a master, or the role of drawing in the building process.
This is the second in the Coll & Cortés Medieval Spain Seminars, which take the theme of ‘Gothic Architecture, New Approaches’ from 2015-17. The first lecture in the series was delivered by Eduardo Carrero in October 2015.
The first in a series of lectures on Spanish medieval architecture, hosted by the Courtauld Institute, and sponsored by Coll & Cortes
Since the late 19th century, scholarship on 13th– and 14th-century Spanish architecture has largely depended on formal analysis and systems of cataloguing. From this have emerged fundamental studies of cathedrals, including those of Burgos, León and Toledo, of monasteries such as Las Huelgas in Burgos, or of parish churches such as Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona. But what are the premises of such approaches? As interest in gothic architecture wanes amongst early 21st-century art historians, some of Spain’s most significant buildings still lack basic analysis. And yet perhaps the biggest problem is not the absence of studies but their methods, mediated by contemporary contexts.
The lecture is open to all and free to attend, though it is recommended that you arrive by 5.20 in order to secure a seat.
Eduardo Carrero Santamaria is Professor of Art History at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Institute of Advanced Study, Palace Green, Durham Friday, 22 May 2015
To register for the event, please email the organizer (firstname.lastname@example.org) indicating if you have any special dietary requirements. There is no registration fee, but all participants will be asked to complete a short impact questionnaire. There are a maximum of 20 places available.
09.30–09.40 Welcome and Introduction
09.40–10.20 Edward Payne (Meadows Museum, Dallas), ‘Skin as Subject and Surface: Flaying in the Art of Ribera, Carreño and Giordano’
10.20–11.00 Yarí Pérez Marín (Durham University), ‘Skin and Markers of Disease in the Medical Literature of Early Colonial Mexico’
11.20–12.00 Andy Beresford (Durham University), ‘The Flaying of St Bartholomew in Early Spanish Altarpieces’
12.00–12.40 Tom Nickson (Courtauld Institute), ‘“Stuffed in the most artistic manner”: The Sacred Made Real in Medieval Castile’
13.40–14.20 Bogdan Cornea (University of York), ‘Skin and Surfaces in Jusepe de Ribera’s Paintings of Flaying’
14.20–15.00 Lesley Twomey (Northumbria University), ‘Decorated Exteriors and Resplendent Interiors: The Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Reliquary as Figures for the Virgin Mary’s Physical and Spiritual Beauty in Late-Medieval Spain’
15.00–15.40 Piers Baker-Bates Open University), ‘Sebastiano del Piombo: The Suffering Skin between Italy and Spain’
16.00–17.00 Round Table Discussion