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Borsheim Art Newsletter: Madrid Art Museums

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 5 April 2014

  1. Salon - Greenhouse Fine Art International Competition/Exhibit
  2. Sculptor's Dominion-San Antonio!
  3. Exhibition Florence Italy: "Passages"
  4. Feature Article: Art in Madrid, Spain
  5. Australia in May
  6. Blog Highlights: Rodin in Roma!
  7. Subscription Info.

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Hodler, Ferdinand 1885 "TheReader"
Thyssen Art Museum, Madrid, Spain

Dear Art Lover,

Ohhh, in our case in Italy this year, it was March showers that brought April flowers! Spring is here now, but this past winter I have been working with "things that die." I have joined the ranks of still life painters as a step to more complicated compositions in my future artworks. "Still life" is a much more upbeat label than the Italian natura morta (dead nature). And yet, there are many things to be learned while painting models that are fading fast.

I would like to share with you my first "perishable" project. I am still thinking of a title, so if you have any ideas, please toss them my way! I learned a great deal on this painting. Mainly that even a vegetable has a unique personality. As each one of my models lost his luster and had to be replaced, my painting skills had to adapt to a new model that had surprisingly different attributes than the original. Also, like people, not necessarily better or worse… just different.

I also learned that radishes must be removed from the model stand at the end of the workday and sleep overnight submerged in water. They dry out really quickly and crack. And the leafy stems? Well, paint fast, my friends!

Now, on to a few exhibits going on now:

[Still life oil painting with perishable vegetables radishes]
Still Life with Perishables: Artichoke, Radishes, Potatoes, and Leaves
30 x 50 cm, oil on Vasari canvas by Kelly Borsheim

[Still life detail oil painting radishes artichoke]

Salon - Greenhouse Fine Art International Competition/Exhibit

(all copyrights 2013-2014 reserved by the artist)
[London Pub oil painting accepted into Greenhouse Gallery International Salon 2014]

Three years ago, I was delighted to win an Honorable Mention in the Greenhouse Fine Art's International Salon for "Buskers in Firenze," a painting of two of my street artist colleagues.

I recently entered again and was so happy to have one of my new paintings accepted. "London Pub" will be on exhibit at Greenhouse during the exhibition of the Salon 2014.

April 5 - 25, 2014
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Fine Art
2222 Breezewood Blvd. (note: "new location")
San Antonio, TX 78209

Left: "London Pub"
16 x 20 inches
Oil on board
by Kelly Borsheim

Other Exhibitions:

Sculptor's Dominion - San Antonio, Texas USA

[Artist Kelly Borsheim in Fez Morocco photo by Simone Crew]
Thanks to Philip Hoggatt of Carved Stone in Dripping Springs, and artist Gilbert Barrera, my marble carving "Gymnast" will be on exhibit at least during the month of April at the Dominion outdoor sculpture exhibition in San Antonio, Texas.

Come visit any weekend in April! [small admission fee]

Sculptors Dominion
Villa del Carmen Conservatory Gallery and Sculpture Garden
11354 Vance Jackson St.
San Antonio, Texas USA

Una Mostra in Italia: "Passages, Morocco"

Baraka Cafè
via di Novoli 75 r, Firenze, Italia
Continuing through 14 April 2014 (normal business hours)

Preview some of the artworks here: http://www.borsheimarts.com/news/2013_11-PassagesMoroccoArt.htm

Feature Article: Art in Madrid, Spain

It is pretty safe to say that Madrid, Spain, is a Mecca for artists and art lovers. I finally made it there last September and found the city surprisingly walk-able (at least as a tourist). Of course the metro was easy to use as well, and clean (unlike Rome!). I also spent two days in nearby Toledo to see the El Greco's that my artist mother loves.

I wanted to share with you some of the images of paintings that struck my interest in Madrid. Let me preface by admitting that I am not often allowed to take pictures in many museums. But without a flash, I fail to see the harm. Sometimes it really is better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. And I justify my "bad behavior" because I rarely see postcards or books for sale that show me what I am interested in remembering. However, if memory serves, the Prado did not invite image recording, but the other museums were open to it.

Please join me below for some close-ups on images of some gorgeous paintings and why some things in particular interested this artist. Even if it is just the tip of the iceberg!

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

[Ruben in the Prado Art Museum Madrid] Rubens: how intensely animated and colorful!

[Ruben in the Prado Art Museum Madrid]

I apologize for not noting the artist. I found the detail in the dress of this woman's portrait to be pretty intense. And yet, when one views from up close, one can clearly see how flat the patterns are that lie over a shaded, more three-dimensional painted illusion of form [cloth folding around three-dimensional body parts]. I must admit, it is very hard to create soft edges (that aid in adding depth to any image) on such fine detail. In any event, the painting is masterfully done.

[Lace detail in painting in Prado Art Museum Madrid]

[Madrazo portrait in the Prado Art Museum Madrid] [Madrazo portrait in the Prado Art Museum Madrid]

Madrazo is actually the name of a family of artists. I was particularly taken with this portrait by Raimundo de Madrazo. The subject feels real and the way the artist painted the eyes make the viewer feel as if the woman's eyelashes are going to flutter before him!

[Sorolla in the Prado Art Museum Madrid] [Sorolla in the Prado Art Museum Madrid]

Above: I enjoyed that even for a large finished painting such as this one by Sorolla, how scruffy and simply scrubbed-in the figures seem. And yet, everything is there, including the change in color of the injured boy's flesh as it nears the wound. His cool-colored dying skin is a wonderful contrast to the alive hands of the older man who is trying to save him.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

[Degas in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid] [Delacroix in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

I began to really enjoy strongly colored walls in art museums about a year ago when I went to see Vermeer in Rome. Although that exhibit was a collection of artists and colored walls, Vermeer's works always had a rich purple wall behind them. It worked. Here the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum also uses colored walls to perfect effect! I am also getting accustomed to what I used to see as "gaudy frames," such as on this Degas, left.

I included the above painting on the right, "The Duke of Orleans Revealing to the Duke of Burgundy His Lover" from 1825-1826 by Eugene Delacroix, because it surprised me and made me chuckle for some odd reason. The woman's posture and expression show us that she was not enjoying this little escapade. The unabashed rudeness of these men made me pause.

[Manet in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

Manet: the rough brush strokes and beautiful colors together emphasize a striking portrait design. Note the near-black line that edges the face.

[Sargent in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

Of course, Sargent is the God for many artists that I know. This painting of the onion seller in Venice is wonderful. and it is small enough to see the face well (Most of his famous portraits are about two stories tall!). I apologize for the glare on the glass. I wish museums would invest in Museum Glass, but that is apparently a tradename for a product in the US that I use and at least one of my collectors in Italia could not find it. My framer here told me that they have non-glare glass, but I would have to order so much of it at once. He does not stock it because the demand is very low in Italia!

In any event, I enjoy the mixture of tightness and abstraction of this (and many other) artworks. I like the face in shadow with the light falling mostly on the onions. And I enjoy how seemingly loose the painting of a painting of Venice on the wall is done. It is interesting that what looks easy (or might be thought of as minimalist) was actually a product of hard work and intelligent strokes acquired by LOTS of practice. Good design is like that for the viewer / user.

[sargent in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid] [Sargent in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

"The Sower" (below) by Martin Henri - beautiful color harmony in a high key painting (not the sort I generally like).

[Henri Martin in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid] [Henri Martin in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

[Cavallino Drunkenness of Noah in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid] [Drunkenness of Noah Cavallino in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

Above: "The Drunkenness of Noah" by Bernardo Cavallino from 1640 to 1645.
I enjoyed the unusual way that the artist divided the space inside a circular composition. The figure of a passed-out Noah is exquisitely painted. Perspective is difficult but, besides the large hand, looks believable here. And the redness in the face, the pose and composition including the cloak exposing the lower body are brilliant ways to show the drunkenness idea. At the same time the warm light falling on Noah's head and chest draw your eye to the main subject of the painting. Brilliant!

Below: Ribera's "Lamentation Over the Body of Christ"
Ribera is one of the favorites of many contemporary artists I know in Florence, Italy. While I can see a mastery, I like his work less than many other artists. However, the hand in the detail right is well done. Actually the entire painting is well executed, but I am not drawn to the banana-like design of the horizontal body. I am trying to put my finger on it exactly, but I think it comes down to how the artist designed the difference between the figure in light and the figure in shadow.

[Ribera in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid] [Ribera in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

That said, Jusepe de Ribera did a fantastic design and execution in this painting "The Penitent Saint Jerome" (detail shown here). Stunning, really.

[Ribera in the Thyssen Art Museum Madrid]

Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

[Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

I was surprised in a city the size of Madrid that attracts tons of tourists and in the gorgeous month of September that the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando was as empty as it was for the hours that I was there. They have some of the big name Spanish artists and everything is beautifully exhibited here, but perhaps in an art-rich city such as Madrid, the Prado and Thyssen saturate the brains and eyes of most visitors. Still, this place is worth a visit! [Florence, Italy, also has worthy art destinations that most tourists will never choose to see. It is that rich here. It probably really is a time issue, though.]

Below: A stone carving of Saint Bruno by Pereira Manuel in 1652.

[Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

[Sorolla in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

Above and below: A rather large painting by Sorolla titled "Eating in the Boat"
Like Sargent and many great painters, I again was awed by the appearance of as few as possible cleverly placed brushstrokes to communicate a real impression of form. I am also intrigued by unusual compositions. What I mean in this case is that the area of strongest light is for the background with a noticeably dark foreground. But add to that the idea that it is in the darks where the real subject lies.

To my knowledge, no one has ever accused Sorolla of working from photographs, but I find his multi-figure compositions of people in action to be totally convincing and masterful! This man understands diagonals and animation! And the sail above the figures is really well painted, moving from warm to cool in a perfect way. This was the painting that I spent most of my time with in the Bellas Artes. I even returned to it after having seen everything else beyond it.

[Sorolla in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Sorolla in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

Below: Restoration is an ongoing effort in these art-rich countries! This room was off-limits for obvious reasons.

[art restorations in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [painting restoration in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

[Villaamil in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Genaro Perez Villaamil in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

Above and below left: I love good paintings of architecture! But being symmetrically challenged, I struggle to create beautiful architecture myself. I loved being married to an engineer because John would just walk into my studio and immediately see what I either had not noticed at all, or had struggled with and never pinpointed the problem. When I saw this painting titled "View of a Cathedral's Interior" by Genaro Perez Villaamil, I ached for the artist who took this on!

Look closely at the detail image, below left: There appears to be very little actual information up close... but stand back and whoa! Yet... it is the precise positioning of each light, shade, and color that is necessary.

Below right: Look at the 3-d-ness of that hand! Portraits sometimes bore me, but parts can be good! I actually have no recollection of what the rest of the painting looks like. And I apologize for not recording the name of the artist either.

[Villaamil in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [painting of hand in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

[Jose Gallegos Arnosa in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

Above, plus the four detail images below: Now THIS guy must have been the Norman Rockwell of his day! This artwork is impressive, regardless of style. I do not believe that one has to have tried his hand at painting to be able to appreciate this artwork. I am often in awe of many multi-figure compositions and I like the humanity in this one. But the details and varying textures are rendered masterfully! It is a bit tight for the kind of work that I want to do, but I would not hate to live with this artwork myself. I have retyped part of the write-up in the Bellas Artes museum because I found his path interesting. In a side-note: I have always loved the way they wrote music back in those days! Here goes the history:

José Gallegos Arnosa (Cadiz 1859 - Italy 1917)
Choristers in Seville
Oil on panel. 44.5 x 61 cm. Signed and dated: J Gallegos / ROMA 1889

Arriving in Madrid as a 16-year-old, Gallegos is admitted in the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando and trains under Federico de Madrazo. In 1878, sponsored by a private patron, he goes to Rome where he attends classes at the Accademia Chigi and is smitten with the work of Fortuny. The young painter soon joins the group of Andalusian genre artists headed by José Villegas. After a short stay in Tangiers, Gallegos settles again in Rome, sending many pictures to the Spanish National Exhibitions and to the Fine Arts Circle. In 1886, leaving the Orientalist scenery, he begins a new and successful line depicting traditional rites and ceremonies of the Church. In this attractive picture, Gallegos has caught with witty and unerring eye the boys' earnest attention and the catastrophe of a falling music sheet. He also renders in masterly detail the great baroque organ.

[Jose Gallegos Arnosa in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Jose Gallegos Arnosa in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

[Jose Gallegos Arnosa in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Jose Gallegos Arnosa in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

The following painting by Ramon Bayeu titled "The Empress of Constantinople before Alphonse X the Wise" caught my attention because of the animated expressions of two figures in the background. Is there some sort of scandalous story happening here or just two guys amusing themselves during a boring formal event?

I also find it interesting that the group in the foreground left does not even seem to be aware that something notable is happening nearby. They seem more interested in what is in the crate under the blue drapery. Was this real life? Or did the artist not understand where to the focus attention of the viewer (unlikely since he put the principle figures in light while everyone else is subordinate in tone and location). Or is the artist making some sort of subtle (or not) statement about the event or possibly his patron for the painting that people of the time understood? Note that the extended arm of Alphonse the Wise is pointing to the foreground group.

When I checked my original photo's larger size, I also noticed that the group in the background right are not even looking towards the Empress, but off to some distraction off back and above to the left of us. [What is up with the woman raising both arms into the air? fear, excitement?] I cannot tell if the Empress is pleading with Alphonse or if she is simply moved. His face and gesture, however, are kind and welcoming. The man immediately to the right of and behind Alphonse the Wise had large eyes as he gestures with a finger to his lips of, "Silence!" to the man facing him.

hmmm... I always have more questions than answers!

[Ramon Bayeu in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Ramon Bayeu in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

[Vicente Portana in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

Vicente Lopez Portana's painting "The Catholic Monarch Receiving the Embassy of the King of Fez" (above with details below) got my attention because I liked how the figures darkened in the left foreground created a sort of frame for the figures in light. I also enjoyed how the scene moves from outside to in, and that the painter seems to have had only one model for all the Moroccan men. I also see a sort of symmetry of twos a lot here that lends a great deal of calmness to this subject.

[Vicente Portana in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Vicente Portana in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

[Eduardo Chicharro Aguera in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

There is something about this large painted canvas "Buddha's Temptations" by Eduardo Chicharro Aguera that does not appeal to me. Perhaps it is the colors. However, the idea and the mythology does interest me (and who does not enjoy women with large cats?). I share again what the museum card said:

Eduardo chicharro Aguera
Madrid, 1873 - 1949
"Buddha's Temptations" 1921
Oil on Canvas, 2.90 x 3.66 meters. Signed and dated E. Chicharro 1921.

While serving as director of the Spanish Fine Arts Academy in Rome, Chicharro achieved his most ambitious painting, after many preparatory drawings and sketches. He spent five years on the canvas itself. The name Buddha means Illuminated: this young prince has wandered for years seeking the light and now receives it under a ficus, the sacred tree of buddhism. Motionless and absorbed, he ignores the Apsaras, daughters of Evil, who try to seduce him: Flattery and her sister Adulation, Lust with a panther body, Tenderness, lying at his feet, Voluptuousness on a rich red drapery . .. Lakshmi, India's answer to Venus, appears riding an elephant. Another wicked Apsara, with a many-hued veil, takes on the figure of the beautiful young wife this prince has left behind. This work was awarded the Honors Medal at the 1922 Spanish National Exhibition, and the same year Chicharro was elected a member of the San Fernando Royal Academy.
Purchased in 2001 with the Giutarte Bequest.

[Eduardo Chicharro Aguera in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid] [Eduardo Chicharro Aguera in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

I did not record the artist on this last painting. I just thought it would be fun to end the article with a random group of babies having a bit of fun. [Yes, they are in the Bellas Artes museum.] Thank you for reading this far!

[painting of babies in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Art Museum Madrid]

Recent Blog Topics:

[Rodin in Rome] Join me on a recent trip to Roma to see the marble carvings of Rodin against ancient Roman brick architecture: Rodin in Roma

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Kelly Borsheim
5 April 2014

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