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Manolo Vald�s � In Glass

- 112 Pages
Published: 12/05/2022

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For over half a century, Valencia-born, New York-based Manolo Valdes has been a prominent international figure in the arena of contemporary art, known for his work in the mediums of sculpture, painting, drawing and collage. In this striking and imposing publication, designed in close dialogue with the artist by Peter B. Willberg and produced in Italy, Valdes presents a body of thirty-five sculptures created in 2020 and 2021. Along with wood, alabaster, aluminium, steel and resin, the primary medium employed in this body of work is glass, following a significant and intense period of research and experimentation. The resulting works are engaging contemporary portrait busts that make reference to the history of modernist painting and sculpture, taking inspiration from imagery and objects by twentieth-century masters such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Constantin Brancusi. Developing his 'recipes' for their fabrication - materials, processes, conditions and timings - with both care and flair, Valdes has created sculptural glass busts in a range of amber oranges, ruby reds, emerald greens, sapphire blues, and onyx blacks, all of which almost seem to glow with what Dr Kosme de Baranano, the book's author, describes as 'an inner light'. Baranano's comprehensive and illuminating essay not only investigates aspects of the history of glass making and its use as a material by artists past and present, but also traces the evolution of the language and forms of Valdes's glass and mixed-media works across a number of key exhibitions and bodies of work over the course of the past two decades. These include his monumental sculptures at the New York Botanical Garden in 2012 and his dramatic solo presentation in the Place Vendome in Paris in 2016, both of which offered opportunities to see the artist's large-scale sculptural works in outdoor settings. Discussing the significance of 'Cabezas' (heads) in his oeuvre, Baranano asserts: 'These glass Cabezas are tremendously sombre and simple works from which emanates a profound silence.' This large-format publication, which is illustrated by specially commissioned photography by Tom Powel, documents many of the sculptures from different angles and by means of details, revealing not only the subtleties and qualities of the surfaces of the abstracted, humanlike glass heads, but also the curious and eclectic appendages that regularly appear to burst forth from them like unorthodox fascinators or eccentric jewellery, from nails and steel rods to glass or metal butterflies and wooden geometric forms. With a timelessness that speaks of civilisations long gone and a modernity that simultaneously seems to look to the future, Valdes has created a body of sculpture in glass that transcends time, touching on the metaphysical nature of the human mind and its outward manifestation in the physical world. Manolo Valdes (b.1942, Valencia) is one of the most significant post-war Spanish artists. A key member of the Equipo Cronica until 1981, in 1989 he moved to New York. Major solo exhibitions include the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Reina Sofia, Madrid, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Chateau Royale de Chambord, France.