Exhibition You Shine of Bohemia in the Foundation Mapfre
Exhibition You Shine of Bohemia in the Foundation Mapfre
Last February 1, 2013 the exhibition presented in society Lights of Bohemia to itself. Artists, gypsies and the definition of the modern world in the head office of the Recluses' Walk of the Foundation Mapfre. The sample tries to contribute a vision of the artistic Bohemian lifestyle and its relation with the representation of the gypsies and vagabonds in the art.
Nearly one hundred of works of big artists narrate a history to us, it is the history of the creation of the artistic Bohemian lifestyle, and of how this history intermingles with the idea of a world that causes admiration: that of the vagabonds and the gypsies.
We can contemplate works of Francisco de Goya (Self-portrait before the trestle, 1790-95), Van Gogh (The trailers, gypsy camp close to Arlés, 1888 or A pair of boots, 1886), Édouard Manet (The water drinker, 1862-72), Paul Signac (Moulin de la Galette, 1884), J. S. Sargent (gypsy Camp, 1912-13), Kees van Dongen (Gypsy, 1911) and of Pablo Picasso (Roofs of Barcelona, 1902) between many other artists (and many other works). This works collection has been possible to the loans realized by prestigious institutions as: Art Institute of Chicago, the New York Public Library, Morgan Library and Museum and Hispanic Society, of New York, State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, Musée d'Orsay, Musée du Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, of Paris, the Royal Academy of Fine arts of San Fernando, of Madrid, the Museum Picasso of Barcelona, the Museum Van Gogh de Ámsterdam or the Tate of London, between other institutions.
This exhibition has been organized jointly by the Foundation Mapfre and Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais of Paris. Previously it was possible to see in Grand Palais of Paris, under the generic Bohèmes title. With big wise move in Madrid the title has changed for that of the famous stage play of Ramón Maria del Valle-Inclán, Lights of Bohemia, published in 1920. In the sample of Madrid there have joined big changes that emphasize the image of the international artists on the Spanish gypsies or the importance that the myth of the Parisian Bohemian lifestyle had for Picasso and other big conformadores of the modernity.
The sample is articulated concerning the concept of the artistic Bohemian life. In the middle of the XIXth century, between the Romanticism (movement that arises against the Rationalism of the Enlightenment) and the Realism (that supposes a rupture of the Romanticism), it begins being valued over everything, the creative freedom of the artist. They leave the academic thing a certain alienation of the society faces new challenges not subject to corsets, what is going to provoke a clash and, hence. The artists will look with benevolence for this Bohemians' group at – wandering gypsy ethnic groups - that furrow with its trailers good part of Europe.
Painting, literature, music and later, the movies and the press are in charge of spreading histories that have to do with young talents convicted to live in the alienation to defend its art. Histories that will be nourished by an imaginary group who turns about the gypsies and vagabonds. One of the big myths is born like that of the modernity: the Bohemian life. Understanding like that Bohemian life that it is identified like the symbol of a life without rules and without ties. It is in this moment, the middle of the XIXth century, when in Paris many young artists who push the norms back shelter in small ghettos as there are the garrets or the bars. Many people are geniuses of the art, they are conscious of its talent but they are ununderstood by the criticism, and therefore, the Parisian society of the moment. They will share marginality and misery with the traditional Bohemians and, little by little, this group will turn into a myth identifying it like guarantee of artistic and spiritual freedom. These Bohemians constitute the precedent of the hippies of the sixties of last century. Traditionally the Bohemian was seen like an unconcerned person with its aspect, therefore something slovenly and in contrast with the prevailing thing in the society of the moment that is everything opposite where it predominates over a few rules and esthetics. The Bohemians incline towards the thought, towards the arts in general, cultivating the mind and enriching its intellect (more than its pocket). They are artistic creators.
The sample tries to provide a vision of this history together with the vagabonds, with the gypsies and with the Bohemian artists.
The route: The image of the gypsies in the western art
The gypsies known also like people rom, blunt or romaní, have an uncertain origin. The first migratory movements of the Xth century account already for its existence. They wrap its arrival to Europe, they themselves, in a legendary and mysterious air.
In the XVth century due fundamentally to the incessant wars between Byzantine and the Turkish and Tartar peoples the gypsies will initiate a massive migration from Indo-European territories. In 1416 there is had steadfastness of the gypsies' existence in Romania, in Germany and in Bohemia (Czech Republic). It will be the king of Bohemia, Segismundo, who will give them a safe-conduct to stroll freely for half an Europe.
The arrival of the gypsies to the Old continent will exercise a big fascination between painters and writers. Its legendary origins and its attachment with the theater, the dance, the dance, the show business, and to live through that one of nomadic form, of here for there, created a big number of protagonists and picturesque situations. This way Fernando de Rojas created La Celestina about 1499 and famous Miguel de Cervantes wrote The Gitanilla in 1613, where there appears a fifteen-year-old beautiful gypsy raised in Seville. An early example of representation of a gypsy is the work of Boccaccio Boccaccino (1466-1525), The young gypsy (1505, Gallery Uffici, Florence). A topic that causes certain passion between the painters is that of the good luck (like persons who read you the hand auguring a future to you). One of the reasons of the proliferation of this topic is the resignation of the big artists to copy works of the antiquity. Frans Hals (1580-85 - 1666) Dutch painter of the Flemish baroque school is the author of Gypsy (1628-30, Museum of the Louvre). This picture also The Bohémienne is known. It is a question of a personage of the low funds of Harlem standing out for the confident and slightly shameless expression of the model. Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) did not hesitate to take a gypsy as a model to realize its famous work of The good luck and to demonstrate this way its worth. A madrigal of of Gaspare Murtola of 1603 was doing echo of this legend to itself:
It called a gypsy who by chance was happening for the street and, taking it to the inn, it painted the portrait of it in attitude of saying the good luck, as these women of Egyptian race usually do. It painted also a young man who puts a hand with the glove on the sword and stretches another hand, patrolling, the woman who retains it and the sight.
The Italian artist realized two versions of The good luck (h 1594, Capitoline Museums, Rome and 1595 Museum of the Louvre). A motive that served to the artist, between other things, for experimenting with the light. The work Diseuse of bonne ventures of George de La Tour (1593-1652) it is realized between 1632 and 1635 and is in Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.
It is necessary to bear very in mind that The Council of Trent (1545-1563) condemned the divinatory arts with which it manages to redouble the mistrust towards the gypsies. Even this will lead them to being chased by the inquisitorial courts.
The examples of this topic are multiple the majority influences for the artist milanés. For emphasizing some example more there is the work, of the same title, of Simon Vouet (1590-1649) realized in 1618-20 and that it is in Otawa, Canada.
The gypsy, the throwing one of letters or the good luck have been a motive much appellant along the history of the painting. An example three centuries later is the beautiful picture of Julio Romero of Towers. A picture of complex reading talks each other of The good luck (1922, Museum Carmen Thyssen, Malaga) on having included another scene at the bottom of the same one.
We leave behind this small presentation to center on the works that we can enjoy in the rooms of the Foundation Recluses' Mapfre in Madrid.
The Bohemian camps are going to turn also into a very represented topic. The contact with the nature and the association that was done of the wandering life and the gypsies is the motive that leads diverse painters to painting the portrait of them. Teniers (1610-1690) has Scenery with gypsies, 1641-45, Prado Museum. In this work it is practically a picturesque note but that this new harmony comes to encarna between the man and the nature.
The portrait of these marginal classes is going to allow to the artists the possibility of having another motive for fighting against the narrow hierarchy of the academic genres. Two beautiful examples we are of the hand of Courbet and Manet.
The gypsy and its children, 1853-54 is a work of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). The painter paints the portrait of a family that covers the way with its children with certain melancholic air. The water drinker, 1862-72 of Édouard Manet (1832-1883) is a picture that receives a daily snapshot removed from the traditional cánones after the backs subject is in the spectator. There constitute an example of the approach to the real figure, to the personage, leaving the idealized of the Romanticism.
Following this line, a magnificent work that incorporates the scenery is the linen of Van Gogh who takes for title The trailers, gypsy camp close to Arlés, 1888. We see the traps with included chimney that were constituting a habitual picture in those times. This image has been chosen for ilustra the catalog of the exhibition. He comes to sum these concepts up concerning the wandering life.
The myth of the gypsy
During the Romanticism, the Spanish topics had a good reception between the Parisian artists. There was a species of obsession to demonstrate the contrast and to look for the difference that was shaping the identity of a people. The vision that was had of Spain was somewhat exotic and oriental, a people that had a deep and big catholic sense and a somewhat barbarian nation in some of its ancestral traditions. It was very different from the rest of Europe. In the difference it is where this attraction takes root. There were great the artists who moved to Spain. In particular to Andalusia that turned into the quintessence of the romantic image of our country. Everything had it: a Moorish past, the bullfighting, the gypsies, and, especially, the Fleming. And if we are in Andalusia, the stereotype of the Spaniard was personifying the figure of Carmen de Mérimée (a short novel written in 1845 and that later served as inspiration for the libretto of Georges Bizet). The attraction for the gypsy woman was an attraction towards a completely different woman. It was the one that could trasgredir the social norms and to dress itself with showy and instigators garments full of color and of certain lechery. The hair could, freely, come undone, smoke and laugh in public and take certain licenses with the men, already out while they were contemplating its dance or while he was throwing the letters or was reading the hands.
Gypsy with the naked breast, 1869 of Henri Regnault (1843-1871). This is a work that it informs of all the topics related to the gypsy: freedom, sensuality, provocation; and that takes part of the simplicity velazqueña. Finally, and once again, it is a perfect excuse for the plastic treatment of the nude. For many, artists or not, the ideal of the feminine beauty represents it the gypsy with its brown complexion, its black and brilliant hair, thick lips and white teeth.
Also we can emphasize the works of La Esmeralda, 1839 of Charles von Steuben (1788-1856) with a linen with an ogival form and who stands out in the room as if of a window it should talk each other; Joaquina the gypsy, 1914 of Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923); and the enigmatic Gypsy, 1911 of Kees van Dongen (1877-1968).
The modern artist
In the XIXth century the artist acquires a new social status. The being turns into an emblem of freedom and individualism stopping behind a being protected by different patronages. In parallel with this development the genius concept arises. A concept that Kant develops in its Criticism of the judgment, 1790, where it defines it like: "the talent that gives the rule to the art», and the talent like innate spiritual capacity (ingenium), across which the nature gives the rule to the art. Of what it gets rid that the genius never imitates to the reality: it is free, on having given him its own rule. 
An interesting aspect is the way that the proper artists of representares themselves have. A present example in the exhibition is a Self-portrait before the trestle, 1790-1795 of Francisco de Goya in whom it is represented exercising its profession, directing its look to the spectator. It proves to be on the outside sure of its worth defending the intellectual component of its office.
Other of the most significant self-portraits is that of Eugéne Delacroix. Autorretato, 1816-1818. Seemingly insubstantial to the eyes of our days, it is considered to be an emblem of the romantic individualism. It is a question of a forefront where he emphasizes the fortitude of the face with a fixed and penetrating look. The painter seems to go out of the darkness in a clear allusion of the world that can live through the painting in this moment. Delacroix was a painter who led the modernity opposite to the academicism that was reigning in this moment and that had in its compatriot Dominique Ingres one of the maximum exponents. It defended the freedom and the artistic creation. He could exceed the classic formation to "renew" the painting coming its influence up to the impressionists. In its works they stand out for its mastery in the use of the color, the sensuality, the passion and the imagination. Its self-portraits are characterized by this special touch that bears fruit of the look to them.
Art and freedom, 1849 of Louis Gallait (1810-1887 stands out for its melancholic air and who personifies the prototype of Bohemian man.
Art, misery, desperation, madness!, 1880 of Jules Blin (1853-1891). The title of this picture already gives us an idea of what goes the work. It is a somewhat unusual image in the art. Although we find before a trestle and a painter with some of its accessories, little or not at all they have to do with the Goya picture. We are in what the workshop of a painter seems. The tools are spread by the soil. A picture fallen down on the foot of trestle, the overturned chair and a standing person, in the center (possibly the proper painter), treading on other one of its works and that carries in its right hand a gun. In the this scene it presents the desperation. The painter looks like a maladjusted being, a being who has suffered some rejection, be already social or economic and that turns out to be exposed after the end appears of its days. Its aspect is something careless, with a certain abandonment air, on the verge of leaving everything.
A pair of boots, 1886 of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). He has written himself very much on this pair of boots. Van Gogh realized up to six pictures with the same motive. Several philosophers have spilled its points of view that turn concerning the consideration of what nowadays is a work of art. The true thing is that it is a question of a pair of boots, worn-out, which perhaps could belong to the proper artist. Belong to a peasant, belong to the teacher there look like a few boots that have had a life, which we suppose eventful and that the painter leaves steadfastness to us across its linen that had an enormous aftereffect. For many critics this wear is an icon of a vagabond being, of a being full of experience of a life with its dangers and with its emotions. Something like extract of the proper artist. A life fills of difficulties and a continuous gait.
Montmartre and other academies of the Bohemian lifestyle
Who have gone to Paris, probably that they have gone for a walk up to Montmartre. This hill also was the destination of many of the artists who there were coming at the end of the XIXth century.
When Napoleón III, with the Baron Haussmann, decided to do of Paris the most beautiful city of Europe, many of the inhabitants of the center had to move towards the margins of the city. Montmartre, at the end of the XIXth century, was assembling a few ideal conditions to turn into a recreation place and to live (something decadent, but in consonance with the taste of the epoch). Artists as Johan Jongkind or Camille Pissarro began to inhabit Montmartre. A mill along with the summit turned into restaurant outdoors. It was Moulin de la Galette, a mythical place where also dances were celebrated. The area has been painted the portrait by numerous artists, such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. Some of these artists moved to work there as it is the case of Picasso, which him Amadeo Modigliani joined.
The Spanish artists could not succumb to this attraction. Up to the Parisian city there moved Santiago Rusiñol and Ramón Casas who live in the first person through this ambience and try to emulate it in Barcelona. Concerning Quatre Gats they will meet a series of intelligentsia that will be a reference place in the Catalan modernism. Long gatherings and chats that were emulating the Parisian coffees (and, especially, the cabaret Him Chat to Nongo).
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) had contact with the avant-gardes due to its contact with them in Barcelona. This up cheered him to travel up to Paris of the hand of its friend Carlos Casagemas (1881-1901). Casagemas had fallen in love with a ballerina in the city of the light. But it was not corresponded. In full gathering with its friends a shot stuck. The news about its death plunged Picasso in big sadness and solitude. It is in this moment when the artist realizes three pictures that the death of its friend takes as a background. They are realized in a bluish tone, full of melancholy, before to its blue period that would include the following four years of the life of Picasso. An example of these three works is Roofs of Barcelona, 1902.
Also they emphasize in this paragraph the works of:
The Bohemian poet of Montmartre / Portrait of Erik Satie, 1891de Ramón Casas (1866-1932).
Corner of Montmartre / The Moulin / The impasse give Deux-Frères, 1887 of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) to Poivre.
Moulin de la Galette, 1884 of Paul Signac (1863-1935).
The exhibition complements itself with a series of activities and an educational program. Also an extensive catalog has been prepared (as it has being habitual in the Foundation Mapfre) in the one that gathers a series of studies and scientific essays of the commissioners of the sample: Sylvain Amic and Pablo Jiménez Burillo, and important historians. It constitutes a good complement to the visit to go deep into specific topics. Also there is included the reproduction of all the works that shape the exhibition.
The website of the exhibition Lights of Bohemia is the following one:
http://www.exposicionesmapfrearte.com / lucesdebohemia /
Luis José Cuadrado Gutiérrez
Article published in Magazine Atticus 21
 Page 148 Catalog Lights of Bohemia. Foundation Mapfre.
Filed file: Exhibitions
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