Ángeles Santos Torroella (1911-2013) was a Catalan artist forgotten and rediscovered many times. Connected to the Generation of the 27, she had friendships with Juan Ramon Jiménez, Gómez de la Serra, Federico García Lorca, etc. She became an artist at an early age, who when she was 18 years old painted one of her masterpieces, Un Mundo (A World), currently in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Her production , however, is clearly divided in two very different periods.
First of all, the young Ángeles Santos adopted surrealism and expressionism, her most valued period, and which the work we are exhibiting belongs to; an avant-garde style, obscure, mystical and critical, which brought her immediate success in various Spanish cities.
As of 1936, when she began to exhibit in Barcelona, she suffered an artistic crisis and her style changed radically to adopt a much more pleasant, sweet and traditional language. This change could have been due to the little success that her works had had in the city of Barcelona, where at that time noucentism dominated and where her style was considered to be gloomy. Anyway, with these more pleasing works she was able to continue painting and selling in the post-war Spain.
The ups and downs of history meant that, after Franco's dictatorship, when the interest for the avant-garde was reborn, precisely the early works of Ángeles Santos would become popular, that situated her in one of the most notable positions of Spanish art of the 20th century.
* Work exhibited in the room 73, the area III.26 of Modern Art.
Like many artists, Dufau (1869 – 1937) was a child with a fragile health who spent long periods in bed and very soon showed aptitudes for drawing. She moved with her family to Paris because she wanted to do artistic studies. She had as her teachers illustrious artists such as William Bouguereau and in 1895 she exhibited in the Salon des artistes where she won a prize. From that point on, she started to receive publicity commissions such as this one of the Exhibition of Hanoi (1902).
Her works obtained very good reviews and were received in Parisian intellectual circles at the turn of the century. She even received the commission from the French State to decorate the new University of the Sorbonne. Nevertheless, in the last decades of her life and her figure, she fell into oblivion. In the 90s, her work was rediscovered.
Isabel Steva Hernández, better known as Colita, is a Barcelona citizen born in the heart of the city in 1940. She is one of the main photographers of whom the journalist Joan de Sagarra baptised as the Gauche Divine, a whole group of personalities from the Catalan capital - architects, novel writers, philosophers, poets, photographers, publishers, people from the cinema, models, designers or interior designers, who in the late period of the Franco years would make a display of disrespect against the customs and the traditional ways of life and that would become cultural references.
Her speciality is to do portraits in black and white. She understands photography as a document, a deposit of the memory. In 1971 she exhibited her portraits of the Gauche Divine in the Galeria Aixelà. It was the shortest exhibition of her life, closed the following day by the police. A militant feminist, in her words, photography has always been what has made her live.
Other works of the artist in the online catalogue: Antonio Gades, rehearsal at the Academia de Juan de Dios and V. Escudero and A. Gades in Barcelona
Edyth Starkie (1867 – 1941) is an Irish painter who produced a pictorial work of international quality and relevance, even though she is remembered above all for being the wife of Arthur Rackham, painter and one of the most important illustrators of England. The fame of her husband was precisely, along with her poor health, one of the major difficulties in her artistic career, given that in the United Kingdom she was seen as "the wife of".
She exhibited on numerous occasions in the Royal Academy of London. At various times she caught the attention of the critics, above all foreign, and she won awards and recognitions at Spanish and French events. Precisely, the painting The Black Veil that nowadays is in the Museu Nacional because it won the Gold Medal of the 6th International Exposition of Barcelona and was acquired by the City Council.
As a teenager, Edyth Starkie went to London and subsequently to Paris for her artistic education, given the fact that in Ireland it was practically impossible for a woman to access the studies of Fine Arts. In many schools they weren't admitted, and even in the Académie Julian, the Parisian school where Edyth went, there was an affiliated school exclusively for women.
* Work exhibited in the area I.7. of the Modern Art rooms.
The newspapers called her “the precious lady of the posters”. Ethel Reed (1874 – 1912), of whom the museum conserves a small collection of posters, had a brief but extraordinary career as a graphic artist in Boston and London during the decade of the 1890s. When she was 21 years old, she achieved international recognition and also became a personage in the media. She came from a poor family and was basically self-taught - from when she was very young her talent for drawing was already very well perceived. She suffered from depressions, insomnia and suicidal tendencies. After the turn of the century she totally disappeared from public and professional life. She went to live in Ireland with her mother and after two failed relations she died from an overdose. Nowadays, the posters of Reed can be found in the Metropolitan, the MoMA or the Victoria and Albert, amongst others.
This poster was selected as the image of the campaign of the new presentation of Modern Art of 2014.
* Work exhibited in the room 67, area II.20 of Modern Art.
Lluïsa Vidal (1876 – 1918) was a notable figure of Modernism and her work was very well recognised during her life. In a period when often the women dedicated themselves almost exclusively to painting flowers, she painted everything that surrounded her, just as her male peers did. She dedicated herself exclusively to costume painting and portraits, in which women were total protagonists.
The reviews she received throughout her life recriminated her for using too much force, too much creativity, that he had too virile an impulse. But Lluïsa Vidal didn't paint the woman as an object from the masculine viewpoint, if not, throughout her work, she dedicated herself to portraying the interior of the feminine universe with simplicity and authenticity.
She was probably the first woman in Barcelona and one of the few from all over Europe who could live from her art, between her paintings and the classes she gave in her own academy. She participated in the feminist movement, collaborating with the magazine Feminal and with the Catalan Institute of the Woman. After her death she fell into oblivion, and taking advantage of the quality of her paintings, several times the signature of her works was changed for more valued artists in the market. In recent decades, extensive studies have been carried out of her life and work to once again recuperate and do justice to this personality of Catalan Modernism.
Also, discover “Lluïsa Vidal, a woman artist in a world of men” in the Blog of the Museu Nacional
Known above all for having been the official painter of the Queen Maria Antonieta, who took her as her favourite, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755 – 1842) is considered to be one of the best portrait painters of the 18th century.
Because of the French Revolution, Madame Lebrun abandoned the country with her daughter. From that point on she would do portraits of the European elite in Italy, Austria and Russia, until in 1805, during the rule of Napoleon, when she would return to France.
Her work, mainly portraits, rococo in style with neoclassical adoptions, was exhibited in the Hermitage of St Petersburg, in the National Gallery of London, or the Louvre, amongst other museums.
* Work exhibited in the room 35 of the Cambó Bequest.
Maria Rusiñol Denís
Daughter of the painters Santiago Rusiñol and Lluïsa Denís, Maria Rusiñol (1887 – 1972) carried art in her blood, although she lived her childhood far away from her father, who was constantly travelling. From the beginning of her artistic production, she inclined towards watercolours and drawing. In her work the representation of feminine figures dressed in old-fashioned dresses would be a constant, which she did to express her criticism of the banalities and appearances of social status. The influence of a certain caricature decadence can be seen, the result of the coincidence Ismael Smith in the workshop of Antoni Serra, with whom she collaborated in the decoration of ceramics like the one we are exhibiting.
* Work exhibited in the room 59 bis, area II/17 of Modern Art.
Other works of the artist in the online catalogue: Vase decorated with female figures
About Mela Muter (1876 – 1967), one of the most recognised Polish artists in Paris during the twenties and thirties, it was said that she painted "like a man". Her art, very often far from the delicacies of how the women were supposed to have painted, was of a luminous and vibrant realism, which would absorb the post-impressionist European tendencies.
She came to Catalonia various times and here she didn't go unnoticed either: she got on well with people from the Catalan culture, among them being the art dealer and gallery owner Josep Dalmau, with whom she established a friendship and for this reason she painted various portraits of him.
During the Second World War she lived in Avignon, but problems with her sight slowed down her production. The war and divorce left her in a precarious situation, alone, marked by the stigma of being Jewish and having participated in the Socialist cause, and without any connection with her original country and homeland. She died when she was 91 years old and left the works she possessed to an NGO.
* Work exhibited in the room 72, area III.25 of Modern Art.
Other works of the artist in the online catalogue: Holy Family
Olga Sacharoff (1889 – 1967) and her husband, the photographer Otho Lloyd, are an example of the artists from all over Europe, who, escaping from the conflict of the First World War, settled down in Barcelona as if it was a second-hand Paris, at a time when the ambience in the French capital was unsustainable. Around the 1920s, she painted paintings that reflected on the institution of marriage. Sacharoff lived separated from her husband because on finishing the war she left for Paris prioritising her art. In 1939, with the advent of the Second World War, she and Lloyd returned to Barcelona where they lived until their respective deaths. Sacharoff formed part of the noucentisme català, (Catalan movement of the beginning of the 20th century) adopting her very own style in which nature and animals played an important symbolic role.
* Work exhibited in the room 72, area III.25 of Modern Art.
Other works of the artist in the online catalogue: A Wedding
We present you some of the women artists of whom the museum conserves works. They are 10 women from different periods, different styles and different backgrounds. All of them, however, with a clear common denominator: before anything else, and more than being wives, mothers, daughters, teachers...all 10 of them were artists.
* This poster, Kunst=Ausstellung des Vereins der Künstleriñen, by Anna von Whal, is the one of an exhibition of the so-called Society of Artists, an association from Berlin founded by four women in 1867 to promote the opportunities and the right to education of the women artists.