Manolo Valdés (1942)
Born in Valencia, Spain, in 1942, Manolo Valdés joined the Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos in Valencia at the age of 15 to study painting. In 1964, he co-founded with Rafael Solbes and Joan Toledo Equipo Crónica one of the most important groups of Pop Art in Francoist-Spain, which proceeded to invert many principles of the history of art.
‘For us, Pop Art is a way to engage in a political battle’, explained Valdés, ‘but it is also an escape and a way to fight against the dominant artistic tendencies linked to informal art.’
With the dissolution of the group in 1981, Valdés began a solo career, which offered him the opportunity to reinvent himself, though without completely renouncing his previous philosophies.
Valdés mastered all artistic disciplines, from drawing to painting to sculpture and engraving, aiming to invert and re-contextualise some of the most emblematic images of the history of art, beginning with the royal portraits of his compatriot Diego Velázquez (Reina Mariana), such that he extracts figures from paintings to create imposing figures in the round, or recomposes them into two-dimensional works inspired by Kandinsky, Matisse, and Braque.
He made numerous portraits of women with a nod to both Matisse and Picasso. His engravings sometimes also refer to Matisse, but also to the Old Masters Rubens and Rembrandt.
He works in series as well, favouring this system to invent variations on a theme and experiment with textures and materials.
Many of his sculptures are made with bronze and ‘pâte de verre’ (modelled and cast glass), while his paintings are worked in many ways, for example folded and sewn burlap canvas containing mass-forming bitumen and pigments.
Manolo Valdés’s work transcends any simple reinterpretation of past artistic production: his objective is to create original and provocative work, uprooting a well-established cultural object and presenting it with irony and humour.
Numerous public and private collections feature the works of Manolo Valdés, including: the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Fundación del Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno in Valencia, the Kunsthalle in Kiel, the Kunstmuseum in Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.
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