Spanish Sojourns: Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain Arrives at The San Diego Museum of Art on March 29
Exhibition Part of 2015 Centennial Celebration Honoring History of Balboa Park
San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego Museum of Art will present the landmark exhibition Spanish Sojourns: Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain, from March 29 through September 9, 2014. Robert Henri was one of the most influential American artists of the early 20th century, and this is the first museum exhibition dedicated solely to Henri’s Spanish subjects.
Widely celebrated as a leading figure in the Ashcan School of American realism, Henri played a pivotal role in the history of American art. Throughout his career, he championed the realistic portrayal of contemporary life. An influential teacher of art, Henri’s philosophies and theories were collected by a former pupil and published in 1923 in The Art Spirit,a book that continues to inspire readers today. Henri is also central to The San Diego Museum of Art’s history: he helped organize an important art exhibition for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park.
An avid traveler, Henri was particularly fascinated by Spain and its people. He first visited the country in 1900 and returned six times between 1906 and 1926, often for extended stays. He was attracted by the passions he perceived in Spanish culture and by the nation’s rich traditions of music, dance, and bullfighting. Henri’s portraits also reflect his admiration for the great Spanish masters Diego Velásquez and Francisco Goya, whose works he studied closely.
Spanish Sojourns consists approximately 40 major paintings borrowed from museum and private collections around the country. The works inthe exhibition, nearly all portraits, present a dazzling cross-section of Spanish society as experienced by Henri: famous dancers and dashing bullfighters, intermingled with spirited Gypsies, blind street singers, and weathered peasants. Gathered together for the first time, these paintings reveal Henri’s deep commitment to capturing the essence of Spanish tradition and culture.
During the exhibition, the Museum will also display two works by Henri from the permanent collection: Bernadita, of 1922, a gift to the Museum from the San Diego Wednesday Club; and Portrait of Mrs. Robert Henri, of 1914, a work bequeathed to the Museum by Alice Klauber, a local artist who traveled to Spain with Henri in 1912. “Spanish culture has influenced countless American artists,” said Roxana Velásquez, the Museum’s Maruja Baldwin Executive Director. “Henri embraced Spain with vigorous energy and created canvases which embodied the spirit of Spain. His ties to San Diego and our institution are especially relevant as we move toward celebrating the 2015 Balboa Park Centennial Celebration.”
Spanish Sojourns is part of the programming for the Museum’s 2015 Balboa Park Centennial Celebration, which aims to celebrate the important history of art in Balboa Park. Henri, along with Alice Klauber, helped organize an exhibition of work by some of America's foremost artists for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. This marked the first time San Diego had been exposed to a major exhibition of contemporary American art. Featured artists included George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, William Glackens, John Sloan, Childe Hassam, George Bellows, and Henri himself.
The success of the Exposition inspired a group of energized San Diegans to build and maintain a municipal collection of art. This group spearheaded the founding and construction of a permanent art gallery for the city. The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, now The San Diego Museum of Art, opened its doors in 1926.
Spanish Sojourns was organized by the Telfair Museums in Savannah, Ga., and will travel to the Mississippi Museum of Art after its presentation at The San Diego Museum of Art. Spanish Sojourns has been awarded major grants from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Horowitz Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lectures and films will accompany the exhibition. Visit the Museum calendar for more details on related events.
About The San Diego Museum of Art
The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif., 92101.
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Providing a rich and diverse cultural experience, The San Diego Museum of Art houses the world’s finest art in America’s Finest City. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the Museum’s nationally renowned collections include Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings including the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings, and 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculptures. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.