A History of Spanish Art

A slow start with occasional sparks of brilliance

Spanish art has produced some of the most talked about artists and pieces of art, especially in the twentieth century. For whatever reasons Spanish art has spent a lot of time in the shadows of Dutch, English, French, German, and Italian artists. That would change in the twentieth century, and in brilliant ways.

Spanish art has a long history, even if it took several centuries to become widely noticed. Further more Spanish art has had different influences compared to most other parts of Western Europe as a result of parts of the country coming under Islamic rule until the late fifteenth century. The centuries long reconquest of the country gave it a strong affinity to Roman Catholicism, and artists that often chose to complete pieces of work extensively based on Christian themes.

Spain was probably more closely linked to the Counter Reformation than most other countries in Europe, which goes along way in explaining why artists from other European countries got most of the plaudits prior to 1900. Conversely though Spain had some of the finest art galleries and museums in Europe, if not further be

Pablo Picasso the most brilliant painter in the history of Spanish art

pablo-picasso-1Spain in many ways seemed to have become a cultural back water for far too long, the over bearing influence of the Counter Reformation and an archaic not to mention autocratic monarchy. Yet such a culture would allow for the emergence of Pablo Picasso.

Picasso could turn his mind and his hands to anything, at the start of his career his work was closer to Dada and cubism, by the time he retired people just knew anything by him was a Picasso and that was everything they needed to know.

Pablo Picasso could draw, sculpt and paint, plus do the sort of eccentric things you would expect from an artistic genius of his outstanding abilities. Though he spent long periods of his adult in Paris he remained a man that was proud to be Spanish, and his greatest painting was inspired by the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War. Guernica is a disturbing depiction of the bombing of that Republican held town. You can sense the pain, heartbreak, and anger he felt as he witnessed his compatriots fight each other whilst foreign air forces, and volunteer fighters all took part in the conflict.

Picasso tended to paint in series, or phases, and it could take many years to finish each phase. He had his blue and gray phases, not to mention painting a whole series of a woman’s head. Yet it would be Guernica that probably was his most famous piece of art during his life time, and since his death in 1973.

Continuing in the shadow of brilliance

Spain has not produced an artist anywhere near as great as Picasso since the great man himself. Mind you no other country has been capable of producing an artist of such ability either. Without a doubt he has been the brightest part of the history of Spanish art.

I have been passionate about Spanish art for a long time. My first thought about the word ‘Spanish’ when I heard it was that it rhymed with both ‘mannish’ and ‘banish.’ Then, my parents took me to see my first Spanish arts museum, and I was hooked immediately.

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