Week 4 The Arts in Spain by John F. Moffitt


I’ve taken a hard right turn in my reading during the past week, taking up a text assigned as summer reading for the Meadows Museum docent program. This book is a compact (only 231 pages) overview of the history of Spanish painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and architecture, starting with cave painting and ending in the 1980’s.

I can see why this book was chosen for us newbies. There’s a handy map of Spain to use for reference while reading, and, of course, it puts everything in historical order. I have gone to lectures and gallery talks at the museum during the past four years, but they were tied to the current special exhibition and necessarily skipped around in time.

Along with the familiar names: El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, Picasso, Dali, and Miro, there are artists who are new to me. I look forward to further researching their work. There are many images in the book, but many are in black and white. There is a black and white reproduction of a still life painting by Juan Sanchez Cotan that caught my attention. A quince suspended on a string, a cabbage suspended on a different string, a cut melon and cucumber.  Quite realistic, but different from the flamboyant still life paintings of the Dutch.  I did a search to find it in color, and there’s an interesting commentary about it in the Khan Academy.

The Arts in Spain will now become a reference book on my shelves.

4 comments on “Week 4 The Arts in Spain by John F. Moffitt”

  1. I’m curious. I know Tony and Deb Guerrero. Tony is Jose Guerrero’s son. I wonder if Jose Guerrero is mentioned in The Arts In Spain? I know he was born in Spain and painted in the U.S. and Spain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Barbara, Jose Guerrero is not in this book but there’s only so much you can get into such a short book. I’ve been enjoying reading about him on Wikipedia–seeing all of his intersections with other artists and countries. Something that particularly caught my eye is that “he produced portfolios of graphic works to accompany the poems of Jorge Guillen.” The most recent exhibition of work at the museum was that of another modern day Spanish artist named Eduardo Chillida. It was wonderful. Sculpture of alabaster, iron, steel and clay, but also gorgeous artist’s books made in collaboration with the poets Jorge Guillen (“Mas Alla”) & Edmond Jabes (“The Memory and the Hand”), and the architect Louis Kahn (“The Shadow Belongs to Light”). The first line of the Chillida/Kahn book is this: “The first line on paper is already a measure of what cannot be fully expressed.” That does something to me every time I read it.

      Thanks, Barbara!


  2. Please keep us posted on your research as you explore new artists! I love the intersection between reading and other aspects of life– what is a docent program? I am a docent and have been a few places but I’ve never had any suggested reading formally provided– that sounds really helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are two art museums in the area that use docents as volunteers–mostly to conduct public tours, but also to help with special events. In exchange for agreeing to take a tour at least three times each month, you receive an education in art history via once-a-week classes which are held from mid-August through May every year you’re in the program. During the first year, new docents attend an additional weekly session conducted by the museum education department. A great thing about the Meadows Museum is that it is on the campus of SMU (Southern Methodist University) and is used for university classes. And for the cost of a basic membership, community members can attend museum lectures and gallery talks for free. (Can you tell I’m jazzed?)

      Liked by 1 person

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