The figure of the bull: animal which symbolises strength, courage and fertility has become the theme of the event; so has tauromachia, inseparably connected with it and shrouded in a number of metaphorical meanings.
Organised by Galeria Miejska in Wrocław, the exhibition Picasso Dalí Goya. Tauromachia – The Bullfight will be hosted by the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław from 24 July to 16 November 2014. The curators put primary emphasis on the artists' graphic work as this was precisely where the subject of tauromachia found its strongest manifestation. In spite of this, the exhibition will also showcase ceramic and sculptural works which constitute a complementary element of the event’s programme. The pieces were gathered from numerous excellent collections, including, first and foremost, the Fundación Picasso Museo Casa Natal of Málaga and the private collection of a friend of Picasso's, Lucia Bosé.
Bullfights and the associated corrida are a colourful and, at the same time, controversial element of the culture of Spain, which had been changing over the centuries, gradually taking the characteristics of a sophisticated ritual; a spectacle whose cruelty has been provoking much emotion for years. The Wrocław exhibition is a journey down the history of this phenomenon, taking into account the facts and mythology which has grown around it; it is also a presentation of the process of evolution of the corrida and the multitude of factors that influenced it. The variety of experiences will be also provided by the masters mentioned in the title, since each of them put the problem of tauromachia in a different way.
The exhibition is opened by a series of Francisco Goya's engravings entitled Tauromachia, executed in the etching, aquatint and drypoint techniques. Through his forty compositions, not only did the artist show the history of bullfighting in Spain, but also most of his contemporary techniques of dealing deadly blows by the toreros during the corrida, which resembled the modern-day spectacle of this type only to a small extent. The Wrocław exhibition will showcase the seventh edition of the series, printed from original plates in 1937 and presented by the Government of the Spanish Republic to the writer Ernest Hemingway, great lover of bullfighting.
Undoubtedly, the exhibition will be dominated by the work of Pablo Picasso, revealing not only the artist's skills and extraordinary talent, but also his versatility and freedom of using one artistic technique after another. An important part in the artist's graphic output is the series of eleven lithographs, presented in Wrocław, entitled The Bulls, created at the turn of the years 1945 and 1946, where Picasso, gradually reducing the animal's body to cubic, synthetic forms, strived to bring out the essence of its shape. The organisers have also provided the presentation of the series of aquatints entitled Tauromaquia, published at Roger Lacourière's famous Parisian studio in 1959 and constituting the artist's tribute for the 17th-century matador José Delgado. Besides, Picasso was known as the author of illustrations inspired by literary works, represented here by two cycles: Carmen from 1949 and Le Cocu Magnifique from 1968. These series will be completed by selected engravings from the famous Vollard Suite, created by Picasso upon the order of one of the most famous art collectors of the turn of 19th and 20th century, Ambroise Vollard. In addition to numerous single compositions, depicting toreros, bulls and the corrida, the Wroclaw exhibition will be enriched with linocuts from Lucia Bosé's collection, as well as with the artist's ceramic works dedicated to the same theme, produced in collaboration with the renowned Madoura Studio in Vallauris.
Pablo Picasso used the visual arts medium to express his political views as well. The cycle Sueño y mentira de Franco from 1937, represented in Wroclaw by selected engravings, arose from a desire to provide financial support for the Spanish Republic in its fight against General Franco. These circumstances and time were also the background of one of the artist's most important paintings, Guernica. The exhibition will present the facsimiles of preparatory drawings for this composition and by the carton made in 1955 under Picasso's supervision by Atelier de la Baume/Dürbach, serving as a model for the tapestry which is an exact copy of Guernica.
On the other hand, the famous surrealist Salvador Dali perceived the bullfighting more in terms of a magical ritual, confrontation with the animal which had an aesthetic dimension, hence the works exhibited in Wrocław, such as Bullfight No. 1 or Bullfight No. 3 excellently capture not only the impenetrable world of the artist's imagination, but also his personal vision of tauromachia. His sculptural creations, including the melancholic "Minotaur" or the extremely dynamic Carmen deserve our attention as well.
The death of General Franco in 1975 was followed by prophecies of imminent extinction of bullfighting, as an entertainment associated with the years of terror. However, the number of corridas organised in Spain has not decreased. Its opponents emphasize the gratuitous cruelty of this form of entertainment, while the supporters raise the confrontation of man with a wild animal to the rank of art and passionate happening. Through the works presented, the Wrocław exhibition will certainly make us reflect on this ritual, providing significant aesthetic experience and allowing us to penetrate into Spain's rich tradition.
Picasso Dalí Goya. Tauromachia – The Bullfight
Museum of Architecture in Wrocław, ul. Bernardyńska 5. The exhibition runs from 24 July till 16 November 2014.