Manolo Valdés - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, October 5, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galería Marlborough, Madrid
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in February 2001

  • Exhibited

    Madrid, Galería Marlborough, Manolo Valdés: Obre Reciente, 8 February – 10 March 2001, no. 5, p. 15 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Powerful and evocative, Retrato de Dorothy III, through its raw textural composition, is a striking example from Manolo Valdés’ prolific and celebrated artistic output. Held in the same private collection since its acquisition in 2001, the work is executed with an unfaltering focus on craftsmanship. Valdés presents the viewer with his distinctive depiction of the female form, with an intimate focus on his subject Dorothy’s face. The vibrancy emanating from the canvas is characteristic of Valdés’ highly personal creative oeuvre, a visual eulogy to the Spanish Old Masters. Unravelling the layers which comprise the composition, Valdés’ original and technical skill are immediately apparent; the diverse media, large-scale composition and direct concern with art historical subject matter confirms Valdés’ status as one of the great masters of contemporary Spanish art.

    Rather than focusing solely on the subject, Valdés concentrates on the concept and manner in which the art is created. For Valdés, the subject is largely the basis upon which his sculptural canvases are built. Referencing artists such as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Sir Peter Paul Rubens and Henri Matisse, and inspired by the materiality of Robert Rauschenberg, Valdés assembles multiple materials and subjects to create his works. Innovatively combining painting with sculpture, the artist resolutely mixes diverse materials to compose a richly textured figurative composition. Here, applying these varied materials to burlap, the media accumulation produces a visually arresting frontal portrait of a woman. Her posture and gaze are elegant and captivating, yet the work is rough and unpolished. The artist, in true command of his materials, harnesses their natural irregularities and imperfections, contributing to an intensification of the overall appearance of the figure. Enhancing the figure’s elegance through the course, tangible medium, Valdés contrasts the vibrant tones within the face of the woman against the dark background, projecting Dorothy into the centre of the composition. Monumental and expressive, Retrato de Dorothy III exposes the powerful and intriguing fragility and femininity of the visage.

    Throughout his oeuvre, Valdés has consistently expressed his particular concern with Spanish artistic heritage, through the interpretation of historical artistic notions and their role in commenting on contemporary political realities. Born in Valencia in the 1940s, Valdés’ veneration for the works of the Spanish masters, such as Diego Velázquez and Pablo Picasso, blossomed at a young age. In the 1960s, together with Juan Antonio Toledo and Rafael Solbes, he formed the Spanish pop art collective Equipo Crónica, in which he combined renowned paintings, such as Velázquez’s Las Meninas, with his own quick-witted political commentary. Using a rich visual vocabulary adapted from literature and art, Valdés is a master at suffusing layers of meaning into a single image. Using the work of the Old Masters as a foundation upon which to create his new aesthetically fuelled works, the notion of cultural memory and historical precedence is intensified. Commenting on his practice, Valdés notes ‘I am just a narrator who comments on the history of painting in various ways, using new materials: it is like a game that consists of changing the code and the key to the artwork…. Many of my colours, materials and textures are the product of relived experiences of other masters. My painting involves much reflection’ (Manolo Valdés, quoted in Valdés 1981 - 2006, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2006, p. 21). The present work, a masterful and idiosyncratic canvas, bridges the two-dimensional and sculptural through art historical inference.

Property from the Estate of Julian J. Aberbach and Anne Marie Aberbach


Retrato de Dorothy III

titled and dated '"Retrato de Dorothy III" 2000' on the reverse
oil on burlap
231.1 x 190.5 cm (91 x 75 in.)
Executed in 2000.

£140,000 - 180,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £261,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 6 October 2017