The exhibition In the Light of the Garden introduces the work of two Spanish masters in the context of the light and color emanating from their gardens—a vibrant source of inspiration in their final creative periods. Joaquín Sorolla (Spanish, b. 1863−1923) designed the garden at his home, now the Sorolla Museum in Madrid, between 1909 and 1911, conceiving of it as a reflection of his own creativity and a work of art in itself. Art and nature became one in this private place of inspiration and retreat. For Sorolla, as for the other artists of the time, the garden was part of the realm of the senses.
Almost half a century later, in 1964, Esteban Vicente (American, born Spain, 1903 ̶ 2001) and his wife Harriet acquired a Dutch colonial-style farmhouse in Bridgehampton, New York, on Long Island, where he set up a studio for painting in an 18th-c. barn on the property and cultivated a beautiful garden, an ever-changing field of color.
In the Light of the Garden is presented in collaboration with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente in Segovia, Ana Doldán de Cáceres, Director. The presentation at the Parrish Art Museum, organized by Chief Curator Alicia Longwell, is supported by the Harriet and Esteban Vicente Foundation.
Joaquín Sorolla (b. 1863, Valencia, Spain – d. 1923, Madrid, Spain) excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of Spain and sunlit water.
In the course of his painting career, he went on to produce a broad array of portraits, landscapes, historical works, and genre painting. His work is often remembered for the bright sunlight impression and innovative spirit that it conveyed to the 19th century gloomy atmosphere in Spain. Sorolla’s paintings were above all conveyed by vigorous brushwork and use of vivid colors, which helped to make him a leading impressionism representative in the region.
Nevertheless, while he was mainly celebrated for Plein-air painting featuring seashore and beach scenes, he was also good at producing historical works, landscapes, and outstanding portraits. Besides engaging in easel-painting, Joaquin was a master illusionist who managed to complete numerous mural paintings.
Esteban Vicente (b. 1903, Turégano, Spain – d. 2001, Bridgehampton, NY) was a Spanish-born American artist, and a leading figure in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. He is best known for his collages and paintings, which demonstrate his virtuosity at manipulating form and color.
In 1936, Vicente immigrated to New York City and quickly found a place in its burgeoning art scene. His studio was on the same floor as Willem de Kooning’s on Tenth Street, and he became friends with Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Franz Kline. These associations, together with the resolutely abstract nature of his work, confirmed his status as a formidable first-generation Abstract Expressionist. While his contemporaries emphasized gesture in their work, however, Vicente focused more on color, producing ethereal paintings of abstract shapes in vivid, complementary hues.
Vicente refined his gestural style of painting and collage to reflect a more reductive approach that employed vibrant color harmonies and contrasts. He sought control and order in his work, rejecting the idea of the unconscious as an artistic guide, a notion embraced by some of his contemporaries. Instead, his carefully constructed mature compositions were evocative, dramatic, and nuanced. Thinly applied pigments and spare collage elements created works defined by light and structure. Vicente approached each artwork not as a single, discrete piece, but as a facet of his oeuvre.