Esteban Vicente. Work 1950-1998

31 march, 1998 - 1 june, 1998 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 3
Exhibition view. Esteban Vicente. Work 1950-1998, 1998
Exhibition view. Esteban Vicente. Work 1950-1998, 1998

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Esteban Vicente (Turégano, 1903 - Bridgehampton, United States, 2001) moves to New York in 1936, and his attitude and purpose as an artist dominates over his consideration of exile. The artist integrates quickly into the New York art scene and his first solo exhibition is held a year later, in 1937. He also participates in the exhibition Talents (1950), held at Kootz Gallery and organised by art critic Clement Greenberg and art historian Meyer Schapiro. His inclusion in the essay Abstract Painting: Background and American Phase (1951), by critic Thomas B. Hess, places Vincent in the position of one of the greatest representatives of what is called Lyrical Expressionism, along with Philip Guston and William Baziotes, among others.

This exhibition brings together over a hundred pieces with different techniques (paintings, drawings and collages) and starts precisely with work from 1950, when he radically changes the languages he uses and begins a strictly abstract period. His painting and his successful career are completed with his role as teacher in some of the most prestigious American institutions, a work he continues until the Nineties.

Esteban Vicente rejects the exaggerated expressiveness of gesture painting and choses a painting fundamentally based on colour, form and matter. Juan Gris’ teachings during his stay in Paris in 1929, provokes in Vincent the notion of balance in composition, based on the use of hidden organisational grids. Conversely, the change that is seen in his painting in the early fifties mainly refers to a gradual process of purification in what is relative to drawings in favour of colour. In this respect, his collages become the medium that favours the path to the abstraction of his painting, as seen in Collage # 1 (1952) and Collage # 3 (1953).

The use of this feature allows him to experiment with colour field interactions and the dynamics available to the canvas, resulting in the definition of space. In his collages, the pieces of coloured paper are torn rather than cleanly cut, so emphasising the idea of colour density and the suggestion of a floating form without accurate profiles and, exactly because of that, becomes emotion, as seen in Collage # 2 (1956). From 1957 the painter himself considered his works "landscapes" in the sense of structures, as seen in No. 1 (1958).

Without losing reference to nature and landscape, from the late sixties his chromatic spots grow, as in the series Princeton (1966). The brushwork is looser and the interaction of coloured surfaces smoothens out, there is an emphasis on translucent and evocative capability of colours, as in Enigma (1970), Cantabrian series: Silver Blue (1982) or Spring Symphony (1995). Similarly, the set of drawings gathered for this exhibition show his experimental enthusiasm to the principles of composition.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Marta González Orbegozo
Exhibition Tour: 

Auditorio de Galicia, Santiago de Compostela (June 13 - August 30, 1998); Museo de la Pasión y Monasterio Nuestra Señora del Prado, Valladolid (October 8 - November 8, 1998); Fundación Pilar i Joan Miró y Casal Solleric, Palma de Mallorca (February 12 - April 12, 1999)