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MAXAM Foundation - MAXAM Collection - Artists - Valdés, Manolo

Valdés, Manolo

Valdés, Manolo
Valencia, 1942
Valencia, 1942

In 1957 he entered the San Carlos Fine Arts in Valencia (the town where he was born) and in 1959 he left to devote himself body and soul to painting.

A few years later, in 1964, together with Juan Antonio Toledo and Rafael Solbes he set up Equipo Crónica. Toledo left the group one year later, but Valdés and Solbes continued to work together until Solbes’s death in November 1981. As a member of Equipo Crónica his work developed based on concepts close to pop art, recreating the icons of contemporary art, as well as going through a phase of social criticism, understood in the context of the Franco dictatorship. "Equipo Crónica" was a fundamental standard-bearer in Spanish painting in the sixties and seventies, always admired and influential (with works currently on exhibit at major museums like the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao and the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid).

Since 1981, he has worked on his own, continuing his artistic journey with the ironic recreation of some of the most famous art works in history. He steadily moved away from the coldness and plasticity of his previous period, and his painting acquired a new meaning with the use of materials such as sackcloth and tarpaulin in works in which texture became the fundamental element and in which the influence of Canary Islander Manolo Millares was patent.

With these new premises, his production in recent years has focused on representing the human body, based on the models of Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez and Matisse, as evidenced in the retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim in Bilbao in 2002, which revealed a dramatic and expressive side which had hitherto not emerged in his work. According to the then director of the Valencia Institute of Modern Art, Kosme de Barañano, he decontextualises portrait art and makes it into still life .

An example of this is his "Velázquez como pretexto "(Velázquez as a Pretext) which he presented for the UEE Collection in 2000, his personal interpretation of the Seville master’s hunting portrait of Cardenal Infante Don Fernando de Austria, brother of Philip IV. His was an ironic yet cheerful mixture of comic language with the recreation, of great technical skill, of elements of the great masters. Writer Antonio Muñoz Molina asserted that... "Manolo Valdés enable us to enjoy both painting and the history of painting to the same degree of intensity".

1982-1983 signalled the beginning of his work in sculpture conceived as another way of writing, with variations on Velázquez’s Queen Mariana. In the last few years his production has focused on monumental public sculpture, like his Infanta Margarita in Alcobendas (Madrid) and El Parolet in Valencia. His latest project was an itinerant work on Las meninas first shown in Paris, Zurich and Oviedo in 2005, in the same line of communication and reinterpretation as Dama de Elche, in 2001, on view in New York.

Manolo Valdés is currently one of the most highly-acclaimed artists by both the public and the critics, and has received distinctions and awards such as the National Fine Arts Exhibition in 1985, the medal of the Biennial International Arts Festival held in Bagdad in 1986, and the Spanish Art Critics´ Association award in 2000 at the ARCO contemporary art show.

He currently lives and works between Nueva York and Madrid.


2000, Valdés, Manolo

Velázquez as a pretext
Oil on burlap
153 x 118 cm


Last update 2019.10.10
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