Antonio López García


Antonio López García

Antonio López García (born in Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, 1936) is a Spanish painter and sculptor, known for his realistic style. He is criticized by some art critics for neo-academism, but praised by others, like Robert Hughes, who consider him a master realist. His style sometimes is deemed hyperrealistic. His painting was the subject of the film "El Sol del Membrillo", by Victor Erice, in 1992.

Early life

López García was born in Tomelloso in 1936, a few months before the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. It first appeared that Antonio would continue in the family tradition as a farmer, but an early facility for drawing caught the attention of his uncle Antonio Lopez Torres, a local painter of landscapes, who gave him his first lessons.

Postwar period

Between 1950 and 1955 he studied art at the School of Art in Madrid, winning a number of prizes. While at the school he developed a friendship with Maria Moreno - also a painter, whom he would marry in 1961. He also formed friendships with Francisco Lopez Hernandez, Amalia Avia, and Isabel Quintanilla. Out of this nucleus a realist group was formed in Madrid. Madrid of the postwar period was isolated from the international panorama of art and culture. All the information that López García accessed on contemporary art was derived from library books at the school; he gradually became aware of Picasso and other great artists of the period.

In 1955, a scholarship allowed him to travel to Italy with Francisco Lopez and study Italian painting from the Renaissance. During this period he began to reevaluate Spanish painting in the Prado, especially Velázquez, a constant reference.

Varieties of realism

By 1957 his work had registered a certain surreal quality. Figures and objects appear to float in space and his pictures are populated by images removed from their contexts. The fantastic vein remains at least until 1964.

During this period Antonio López shows an increasing interest in the representation of objects, independent of their contained narrative load.
Magic Realism continued to inform his work through the mid-1960s, but gradually, as he said, "the physical world gained more prestige in my eyes."In fact he had never abandoned it. The 1959 oil "Francisco Carretero and A. López García Talking", like many portraits and townscapes of this period, is devoid of surrealistic devices. So are "Autumn" (1961) and "The Sea" (1961-70). Some of his relief sculptures conjure fantastic episodes, such as "The Apparition" (1963), in which a child hovers mid-air against a wall, gliding toward an open door. There are many affinities with the Tuscan Renaissance in his work in three dimensions. The ethereal "Head of Carmencita" (1965-68), for example, might at first glance be taken for a quattrocento Florentine bronze by Desiderio da Settignano. García's painting also reverberates with the art of the past. "The Grapevine" (1960) evokes Tiepolo's sunlight, "The Quince Tree" (1962) Chardin's dusky murk, and other paintings echo Old Masters from Dürer to Degas.

The beauty of López García's work begins with an appreciation of his craft. Paintings such as "The Sideboard" (1965-66), or the atmospheric views of Madrid from the 1970s show an acute perception and understanding of the beauty of the objects he portrays. Though López García is devoted to the mundane--he depicts humble people, buildings, plants, and cluttered interiors--his portrayal of these subjects is compelling and beautiful. Starkly lit studies of his studio, bathroom, and the red brick wall in his backyard underscore an interest in prosaic subject matter. His deftness brings attention to these simple forms, encouraging the viewer to re-examine the presence of ordinary objects.

He began to paint panoramic views of Madrid about 1960. His work from this period attracted recognition, first within Spain - in 1961 he had his first solo show in Madrid - and later, in 1965 and 1968, at the Staempfli Gallery in New York. López García faithfully adhered to familiar subjects: images of women, anonymous and humble objects of domestic surroundings, desolate spaces, images of his garden and landscape. The pictures are sometimes worked on for more than twenty years, some of them remaining unfinished.

As the artist explains, "the pictorial nucleus begins to grow and you work until the whole surface has an expressive intensity equivalent to what you have before you, converted into a pictorial reality."

He is a versatile realist, proficient in the traditional media of pencil drawing, oil painting on board, carved wood sculpture, and bas relief in plaster.

Exhibitions

Because he is not prolific, García has had only a handful of one-artist shows. Three have been in New York: two in the 1960s and one, in 1986, at his current representative, the Marlborough Gallery. In 2008 he will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. [ [http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/sub.asp?key=15&subkey=5339] Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.] His work is in several major U.S. museum collections.

Recognition and influence

During most of his career Antonio López García worked amidst an artistic culture dominated first by abstraction and later by conceptual currents. In the 1960s and the 1970s his prestige quietly grew. It is possible to establish links between his work and the new European figurative tendencies or the American hyperrealism.

Films

López is featured in an award-winning 1992 film, "El Sol del Membrillo", directed by Victor Erice and written by both. This hard-to-find but fascinating film portrays López's struggles to paint, and then draw, a small quince tree growing in the backyard of his studio. The film gives considerable attention to his almost fanatically exacting working methods.

Collections

*Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
*Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

ee also

*Velázquez
*Picasso
*Hyperrealism
*Magic Realism
*Andrew Wyeth

References

*Antonio López García by Francisco Calvo Serraller, Edward J. Sullivan, and Michael Brenson, Rizzoli, pp. 358
*Quotes are from Michael Brenson's interview with the artist in the Rizzoli monograph, and from Antonio López García, "Una España Velazqueña", Blanco y Negro (Sunday magazine section of ABC, Madrid) Jan. 28, 1990, pp. XIX-XX
*Jonathan Brown, The Golden Age of Spanish Painting, Yale University Press, 1991, p. 310.

Bibliography

*Nieve, Francisco, "Antonio López García", Rizzoli International, 1986
*Rizzoli, Antonio "López García", Rizzoli International, 1990
*Brutvan, Cheryl, "Antonio Lopez Garcia", MFA Publications, 2008

External links

* [http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/lopez_garcia_antonio.html/ Antonio Lopez Garcia at Artcyclopedia]
* [http://www.artnet.com/Artists/ArtistHomepage.aspx?artist_id=141637&page_tab=ArtistHome/ Antonio López García at Artnet]
* [http://galeriamarlborough.com/cgi-bin/biografia1.asp?pag=alopez&ex=n/ Antonio Lopez Garcia at Galeria Marlborough, Madrid]
* [http://www.timlowly.com/a/lopezgarcia.html Antonio López García Tribute Page] , includes photographs of many of his works.
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWpDp77pSL8 Artists at the MFA: Antonio López García]
* [http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?coll_keywords=&coll_artist=antonio+lopez+garcia&coll_sort=2&coll_sort_order=0&coll_package=0&coll_start=1&coll_view=2 Antonio López García] , objects from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


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