History & Appreciation of Art
Group Leader: Robert Sedgley
Deputy Group Leader: Mike Ponting
When: First Wednesday of the month, 17.00-
Where: Bibloteca de L’Envic – map here.
Numbers: no current limit
If you would like more details or to be an active participant in the group, please contact the leader via the email above.
About Our Group
We have now been running for about eight years and have come in our chronological survey up to the beginning of the Twentieth Century, and are looking at the revolution in the visual arts that we call Modernism. For new members who wish to acquire a background understanding of what went before I recommend reading the notes of previous meetings. These are complete from the earliest paintings on the walls of caves, up to the early moderns: Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism and Futurism.
However, this is by no means compulsory – we are not an exam group!
All are welcome; whether expert or not come and join in the conversation, find out more about the wonderful and surprising world of art!
For more information about the group, click here.
On Sunday 24th April fifteen members of the History and Appreciation of Art group gathered at the Valencia Sorolla station to catch the high speed train to Madrid. We arrived in just under two hours and checked in at the Hotel Mediodia, which is very convenient for the main museums and artistic treasures of the capital. It is also very convenient for the newly restored Atocha station, which is just across the road; but unfortunately that attractive edifice is undergoing works, so we were deposited at the not so appealing Chamartín; a fast fifteen minute taxi ride away. We were there to see the exhibition of early Modern Ukrainian Art at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum; but that was to be on Tuesday, so until then we were free to explore, relax and make our own repasts as we wished. In the evening twelve of us repaired to a local Indian restaurant for a spicy evening meal.
Taking advantage of the beautiful weather the following morning some went on a tour of the city on an open topped bus, while others, unable to overlook an opportunity to look at the art on hand made a beeline for the Reina Sophia Museum, immediately behind the hotel. The Reina Sophia houses Picasso’s Guernica, considered to be one of the most important works of the twentieth century, and is a savage indictment of war in general and the Nazi bombing of the Basque town in particular. It is very large and to see it in reality reveals more detail and subtlety than is evident from a postcard. In fact postcards of Guernica were displayed in many homes to demonstrate opposition to Franco’s regime, such is its place in the hearts of the Spanish people.
In the evenings some partook of the nightlife, some sorted out a Jazz concert or a Flamenco show; three of us visited the Teatro Real to see a modern opera: Nixon in China by the American composer John Adams. A dramatic production and memorable experience, and fortuitously one to tick off my personal bucket list.
Also close to the hotel is the CaixaForum, the arts centre belonging to the Bancaixa. It features a remarkable vertical garden and a very nice top floor cafe with views over the city. There was a very interesting exhibition of 3D printing. I was surprised to learn that not only clothes, tea cups and prosthetic limbs can be 3D printed, but also models of bodily organs in advance of operations, and even mud bricks to build sustainable housing. Every home should have one!
“Ukraine is a nation of innovators, pioneers and inventors who regarded art as as a transporter of new ideas and ways of being.” The avant-garde artists worked not only in their studios but were active in society through the theatre and public events. The exhibition “In the Eye of the Storm, Modernism in Ukraine 1900 to 1930” was put together in something of a hurry with exhibits from Spain, Britain and America, but also with many examples brought out of Ukraine for this special show. While some of the artists born in or associated with Kiev, Odessa and Kharkiv are more well known in the west, such as Kazymyr Malevych, Davyd Burliuk, Alexandra Exter and Sonia Delaunay, (the last three of which moved to Paris, and Burliuk to America) others have been ‘buried’ in the soil of soviet realpolitiks, some literally, such as Mykhailo Boichuk and his wife Sofia, Viktor Palmov and Ivan Padalka, either executed or much of their work destroyed in the thirties during the Stalinist purges. Their works, likewise are emerging from the shadows, having been in many cases rolled up, hidden and forgotten in museum vaults. Influenced in many cases by the revolutionary art of Paris: Cubism, Futurism and the Fauvist’s explosions of colour; and also by the folk art and religious icons of their native traditions, the Modern artists of Ukraine forged a disparate but distinctive range of modernist and national styles; encourage in the early years of the Russian Revolution, but soon to be condemned as bourgeois, individualistic, reactionary and nationalistic.
Following the exhibition and a swift lunch in one of the many eateries in the area, we collected our luggage from the hotel and took a late afternoon train back to Valencia.