Manolo Valdés, ‘A Menage a Picasso’, 2011, Phillips

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Throughout his career, Manolo Valdés has incorporated his many influences, from both the art and the political world, to express his own personal interpretations of the ideas of art and its role in commentary on political realities and on the history of art itself. As founder of Equipo Crónica, Valdés employed the tools of Pop Art to question the Spanish dictatorship of Franco for two decades, and when the group dissolved in 1981, he reinvented his work to centre on art historical motifs, reinterpreting famous images of his predecessors in his own expressive style – and this present lot is an excellent example of this.

Inspired by such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Valdés employs various materials to create his pieces – in the present work he turns to various media on burlap to create a striking image of a woman in profile, at once rough as the material used and elegant. Valdés contrasts the composed pale face of the woman with a dynamic and bright headdress and a solid dark background, adopting the traditions of Picasso’s cubist portraiture to create this work. The artist reinterprets images he finds inspiring to produce an autonomous work: ‘I only interpret or comment on paintings and works that I love. It’s a matter of how to take a work by somebody that you like, which is why you pick it in the first place, and, from that, creating another painting.’ (Manolo Valdés in conversation with Anna McNay, Studio International, June 21 2016). Indeed, in reformulating the familiar imagery from the history of art, Valdés underlines its significance in our conception of art as an evolving body. ‘Paintings and art and creation never come from nothing; they come from other artists and bits and pieces of other works. Everything that comes out new is always a reading of something else that’s already been done.’ (Ibid)
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed and dated 'Valdés 2011' on the reverse

Galería Freites, Caracas
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

About Manolo Valdés

Declaring himself “a consumer of art and its history,” Manolo Valdés ranges deftly across mediums, producing witty, art-historically informed drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures that explore history and contemporary culture, politics and everyday life. Approaching each medium as part of an interconnected whole, Valdés asserts: “That is what art is all about—how to invent many projects from one single image.” Trained as a painter, Valdés grew up imbibing the works of Spanish masters like Diego Velázquez and Pablo Picasso, later becoming influenced by Pop Art. With Rafael Solbes and Joan Toledo, he formed Equipo Crónica group (early 1960s-1981), utilizing the Pop idiom to criticize Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in scathing paintings. References to Spain abound in his work, in portraits resembling its royalty, sculptures recalling Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, or in the recurring, semi-abstracted figure of the Infanta from Velazquez’s Las Meninas (1656).

Spanish, b. 1942, Valencia, Spain, based in New York, New York