Monday, August 16, 2010

A Very Sad Painting

When I was in high school, art was my favourite subject. At one point, I wanted to go to the Ontario College of Art, but I went to a high school where people went on to university, not college. So with my mother's encouragement, I enrolled in Architecture at UofT instead. But I have always enjoyed art and visiting art galleries.Madrid is a great city for those with an interest in art. There are many galleries, most notably the Prado and Thysson-Bornemisza. The museum of more contemporary and modern art is less celebrated. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia has some very impressive works by Dali, Picasso, and Miro. But the gallery itself is not very attractive, nor well laid out. It was not a pleasant experience trying to navigate the spaces.

Nor was it pleasant to come across a painting by Alfonso de Ponce de Leon. A 1936 self-portrait, it showed a person being hit by a car. Sally noted the artist died in the same year that it was painted and we assumed that he had decided to commit suicide by stepping in front of a car.

But I subsequently decided to google the artist, and this is what I found.

An important Spanish artist of the 1930s. Influenced by Surrealism, he developed a more literal, naturalistic approach, with mysterious elements to create a sense of unease. His most famous painting is "Self-Portrait (Accident)" (1936). ... His friends included Luis Buñuel and Federico Garcia Lorca, for whose Barraca Theatre he designed the sets for the plays "La Guarda Cuidadosa" and "El Burlador de Sevilla". Despite these associations his politics veered sharply to the right. In late 1933 he joined the newly-formed fascist Falange and created many propaganda posters and cartoons; this made him a marked man after the Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936. Two months later Ponce de León, his father and two brothers were taken and shot by Republican extremists, and their bodies left in a ditch outside Madrid.

On a related note, a few more surreal pieces, and a very famous Picasso.


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Mitchell Geller said...

Not only do you share my surname but also my taste in art. Ponce de Leon is a long time favorite artist, and seeing his work in the flesh was a much anticipated pleasure on my first trip to Spain in my (long-ago) 30s.