Monday, March 15, 2010

Las Meninas, 1970

Born in Valencia, Spain, Manuel (Manolo) Valdés began training as a painter at the age of fifteen when he spent two years at the Fine Arts Academy of San Carlos in Valencia. In 1964 Valdes, along with Rafael Solbes and Joan Toledo, formed an artistic team called Equipo Crónico. Valdés has now emerged as a unique artist in his own right, who fuses and reinvents traditional techniques, styles, and even specific works of art. He does this through a wide variety of media such as drawing, panting, sculpture, collage, and printmaking. His encyclopedic knowledge of art history enables him to draw on numerous influences and reconfigure them for a modern audience. He is often startling in his bold use of familiar imagery to make a new point.

Las Meninas is a reworking of the famous painting by Velázquez, which has influenced many artists with its play on the nature of an artist’s work. Valdés has since made Las Meninas into a modern icon, painting, drawing, and sculpting details of it over and over again. In this version, the princess and her imploring maids are removed from their seventeenth- century palace and placed in a 1960-style living room with a collection of plastic toys. Valdés and Solbes are perhaps inviting us to assign significance to the ball and the toy duck as critics have been assigning significance to every element of Velazquez’s panting over the centuries. The point is that the original enigma created by Velazquez cannot be solved by analysis, only by intuition.

- Stephen Farthing

Equipo Crónico - Las Meninas, 1970 (1970)

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