Modesto Ciruelos

Cuevas de San Clemente, Burgos, Spain, 1908 - Burgos, Spain, 2002
Recent acquisition
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    77,8 x 65 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

During the period of unrest that accompanied the Civil War, Modesto Ciruelos lived in three cities: first in Madrid, then in Valencia and finally in Barcelona, where he spent two years working for the Topographical Brigade of the Republican Army. When the conflict was over, he moved to Paris. There he met Picasso, whom he visited regularly in his studio, even painting a portrait of him in 1950. During his time in Madrid, his studio in Colonia de San Antonio was destroyed by bombing. Most of the work from his early periods had been stored there and was therefore lost. However, it seems most likely that Descubierta (Exposed) – as well as Fusilados (Executed by Firearm), the other painting shown in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition – was made during the period when the artist lived in Madrid given that both oil paintings are dated 1936, when the painter was still in the city. Ciruelos himself was aware of the substantial change his style underwent during this time of upheaval. This owed more to the painful circumstances surrounding him than assimilation of the teachings of past masters, whom the artist had previously studied. Critics also highlighted this transformation. Juan Manuel Bonet stated that the pieces that emerged during this period “represent the artist’s happy incursions into the world of Iberian Expressionism, to some extent possibly related to the poetics of [the School of] Vallecas”. And for Josefina Álix, the creations of the 1936–1939 period, especially Descubierta and Fusilados, are a “combination of Cubism and Expressionism […] landscapes with a few figures that blend into their surroundings so completely that it becomes difficult to identify the subject matter. It is a strange drawing, using very short strokes and lines alongside broad brushstrokes which verge on abstraction. It is highly significant for understanding the artist’s later body of work.”

Paloma Esteban Leal