Pinta London, the annual showcase of Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese contemporary art, returns to Earls Court this week.
Running 4-7 June, this year’s show is the fourth edition of Pinta London (itself a spin-off of Pinta New York).
The exhibition brings together works from dozens of small galleries as well hosting stalls and talks. Sponsors include Gaucho restaurants and Branding Latin America, and Ventana Latina magazine is among the media types who will have a stall on the floor.
Pinta’s museum acquisitions programme is designed to help major galleries – including Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre, and El Museo del Barrio in New York – add to their collections of Latin American art. Under the programme, Pinta puts up funds to buy artwork – funds which are then matched (or overmatched) by the museums themselves.
“Pinta London has become a key moment in the European art calendar, in prime position between the opening of the 55th Venice Biennale and Art Basel,” says Pinta chairman Alejandro Zaia.
“We are excited about the high standard of the Latin American talent which this year’s galleries will be presenting, and proud to give profile to these artists at a time when there is increased interest in buying Latin American art. We have no doubt that visitors to this year’s show will be impressed by what they will see.”
Here is a PDF of the floor plan at Pinta London 2013. Tickets are £15.
The Courthauld Gallery is going back to the very start of Pablo Picasso’s career with Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901.
The show draws on paintings from collections in Barcelona, Paris, New York and Moscow to illustrate that formative year. In 1901, Picasso moved to Paris aged just 20, kick-started his professional career, and even adopted his famous signature.
The work on display heralds the start of Picasso’s Blue Period (1901-1904), when most of his work was painted in – well, you guessed it – blue shades. It’s also, for my money, one of his most impressive spells (before all the ‘wonky faces’).
Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 runs from 14 February to 26 May. It is included in the £6 admission price to the gallery, which is small and one of London’s most perfectly formed.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, an oasis of calm in the hurly burly of south London, is turning its main space into a recreation of a Seville church.
The transformation takes place from now until 19 May, as the gallery celebrates the work of Spanish master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682).
Exhibition curator, Dr Xavier Bray, told Dulwich OnView: “We are actually rebuilding our famous enfilade which stretches through the whole gallery and we are installing some mock niches in order to show Murillo’s magnificent large lunettes as they were hanging in his lifetime high under the dome of Santa Maria la Blanca in Seville.”
The show has been organised in conjunction with the Prado in Madrid and will highlight some of the paintings in the gallery’s own Murillo collection, which have been cleaned up and restored for the occasion.
It’s a gem of a place, way up in Washington Heights on West 155th street and Broadway, an area that is largely Dominican these days. Part of a grand 19th-century complex now shared with a local college, the first clue to its existence is the statue of El Cid in the courtyard (not by a Spaniard, but by American artist Anna Hyatt Huntington).
Its name is somewhat misleading to modern ears: the Hispanic Society is dedicated to Iberian art, although it does have some pieces from Latin America in its collection.
The Society was founded in 1904 by Hispanophile collector Archer Milton Huntington and boasts some 800 paintings, 6,000 watercolours and drawings, 15,000 prints and 176,000 photographs – plus a collection of, um, door knockers. Its reference library is available to the public and contains 600,000 books, manuscripts and letters from the 10th century to the present day – a Spanish scholar’s dream.
Some highlights from the collection:
- Goya’s Portrait of the Duchess of Alba (1797)
- A trio of Velazquez paintings (including the menina-style Portrait of a Little Girl)
- Works from all the usual suspects: Zurburan, Murillo, El Greco, de Ribera
- Roman mosaics excavated in Spain
- A remarkably modern-looking sculpture of the young Saint Acisclus from the 17th-century
- Tons of ceramics from Manises, Spain (a place for which I have a soft spot, as I used to teach there)
- An entire room dedicated to Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida’s 14 giant canvases, the Provinces of Spain (1911-1919)
These last are a real highlight – a truly stunning display of scenes from early 20th-century Spanish life in a soft, impressionist style. Sorolla’s ‘visions of Spain’ depict cultural scenes from the country’s provinces: ‘bread day’ in Castille, newlyweds with oranges in Valencia, penitents and bullfighters in Seville.
The scenes are pastoral, rustic, joyful, impossibly exotic and probably quite idealised – but they deliver a knock-out blow all the same. The paintings were commissioned by Archer Milton Huntington for the Hispanic Society itself and the room containing them recently had a makeover courtesy of Bancaja (who says bankers are good for nothing?).
If you’re a fan of Spanish art and eccentric museums, the Hispanic Society is for you – worth the trek to the upper reaches of Manhattan. It’s also free, publishes books and stages regular events. Give generously.
The Museo del Barrio, on the Upper East Side, is the museum of New York’s Latino community.
Recently refurbished, it occupies a grand old pile facing Central Park on East 104th Street. But the neighbourhood it represents is found in El Barrio proper, several blocks back.
El Barrio, or Spanish Harlem (before that, Italian Harlem) runs from roughly East 96th Street to 139th, and has a population of 120,000, many of them Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Dominicans.
Historically, Puerto Ricans made up the largest part of New York’s Hispanic community (this is changing), and the Museo del Barrio’s collection draws a good deal on Puerto Rican art (though many nationalities are represented).
The Museo mixes exhibitions of its permanent collection with temporary shows, while its theatre stages weekly performances and its funky cafe serves up food from the barrio. It was founded in 1969, and shifted about until finding a permanent home on 104th Street in the 1970s.
Until 6 Jan, the Museo’s space is given over to Caribbean: Crosswords of the World, a show so vast it’s shared with the Queens Museum of Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The Museo’s two-sixths of the exhibition are Counterpoints and Patriot Acts: the former focuses broadly on economic shifts in the Caribbean, the latter on creole culture and hybrid identity.
What you get is a huge assortment of work, from formal 19th-century portraits to stunning landscapes, collages, paintings and video art of all kinds. It’s a bit confusing, to be honest: I couldn’t tell which bits were the permanent collection and which the temporary shows – leading me to wonder if the galleries hadn’t been over-curated to the point where no theme at all is discernible.
Still, the work on display is colourful and imaginative, the staff are friendly and the Museo’s bright, white spaces are really welcoming. It’s an impressive landmark for a neighbourhood that is – let’s be honest – pretty scruffy round the edges and overlooked by the rest of Manhattan.
The nearest subway station is 103rd Street on Lexington Ave. Note: it’s a roughly 10-minute walk to the museum from there, including a brief stretch through a slightly offputting housing estate. Alternatively, you could catch the train to 96th street, walk to Central Park East and up from there. Or get a cab.
How do you find something new to say about Picasso?
The Guggenheim’s latest take in New York is to focus on Picasso’s work in black and white, in its exhibition Picasso Black and White (runs until 23 January). It’s a good wheeze, because, as the curators point out, Picasso returned to black and white throughout his career, and some of his monochrome paintings are very good indeed.
Highlights of the exhibition are some very dark images (literally): the WW2-era Charnel House, for example. Though of course Picasso’s finest work in black and white, Guernica, is – unsurprisingly – missing from this show.
The Guggenheim has pulled off something of a coup by getting Picasso’s take on Las Meninas, normally on display at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Remarkably, Picasso reconstructed Velazquez’s original from memory (exiled from Spain while Franco was in power, he could hardly pop back on his lunch break to refresh his memory).
I don’t normally do audio-tours of museums as a rule, but the Guggenheim’s commentary was very insightful – I didn’t know, for example, that the Picasso family stayed in Paris throughout WW2. The painter’s incredibly deep-voiced daughter Maya relates a story of how, when their studio was ‘liberated’, the US press printed photos of her artwork in her father’s studio, proclaiming it Picasso’s latest work – not realising father and 10-year-old daughter shared the same studio space.
So, yes, the Guggenheim has found a very good spin on the old dog. Its show brings home yet again just how remarkable Picasso was, and how often he returned to old themes and styles, just when you thought you’d got a handle on him.
That is, of course, if you’re not distracted by the stunning curves of the Guggenheim, or the vertigo-inducing balconies. Yes – even Picasso has to compete with this showiest of buildings, which is still looking good after all these years: a pristine, space-age vision of a future that never was.
New York’s Christopher Columbus statue finally has a home he can call his own – with a well-appointed living room, sofa, TV, the works.
The 13-foot-tall statue, which dates from 1892, is getting some much-needed TLC, and its restorers have decided to have a little fun with it, by encasing the top of the column in a mock-up of a New York living room.
To see Columbus in his new abode, you have to climb a set of temporary steps on the traffic island in the middle of Columbus Circle (talk about a walk-up, right?). But it’s worth the effort for the incongruity of seeing a 19th-century marble statue (by Italian Gaetano Russo) in a very 21st-century home.
The installation is the work of Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi, and it has been paid for by Public Art Fund, a non-profit that relies on donations from individuals and businesses to support its exhibitions and programmes.
‘Discovering Columbus’ is free but popular, and you have to book ahead for a timed entry. It runs until 18 November, after which Columbus will return to his former guise as an aloof silhouette on the New York skyline. This exhibition is probably the only chance in your lifetime to get up close and personal with this NYC landmark.
Ever the pioneer, perhaps Columbus will blaze a trail for other column-topped statues. I’d like to see Nelson on his column in a queue at Sainbury’s, for example…
(Bonus fact: Columbus Circle is the point from which all distances in New York are measured.)