The first painting ever gifted to the San Diego Museum of Art was by Joaquin Sorolla (“Suh-ROY-ya,” 1863-1923). So the new exhibit, Sorolla and America, holds special significance for SDMA.
It’s curious that his name is not well known, because Sorolla was a very big deal in his day—one of the few artists to be decorated and awarded in his lifetime.
The exhibit, three years in the making, opened last week, with the artist’s great-granddaughter here from Spain. The show is mostly the work he did in the U.S., or works that were acquired by Americans, hence the title. America played a significant part in making him famous. Hundreds of thousands of people would go to see his Post-Impressionist paintings. Yet, the public has not seen two-thirds of his works in 100 years.
Sorolla was brilliant at creating light and shadow—pay attention to the light in his paintings. Sometimes he would paint his own shadow into the scene (see: Sad Inheritance!). The celebri-painter also did portraits of the Queen of Spain, President William Howard Taft, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and all the Real Housewives of the day—the Morgans, the Dukes…and Mrs. Sorolla, of course. He was even invited to the White House for three days.
“Nobody will remain indifferent once you see Sorolla,” says Executive Director Roxana Velasquez, who loves that his art is “extremely accessible.” Even non-art people can appreciate Sorolla. If you’re interested in beautiful paintings, Spanish culture, or you just want to get out of the sun, go see Sorolla. The plaques and the artist’s timeline are written in both Spanish and English.
See what all the buzz was about 100 years ago… before Sorolla and America leaves for Madrid. You have until August 26. P.S. There’s a fun gift shop at the end. Viva Sorolla!
C J Walker