Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Infantas of Manolo Valdes

Close to a dozen large sculptures by the Spanish artist Manolo Valdes have suddenly sprung up in the Civic Center Plaza and greeted us on our way home from Palm Springs.

The large women's heads with fanciful metal headgear will be standing there through the summer in another "temporary" public art exhibition put on by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

It seems to be a similar arrangement to the Louise Bourgeois spider on the Embarcadero (click here), where an art dealer in New York, in this case the Marlborough Gallery, lends out a famous artist's work to sit in the open air in San Francisco in the hope that a rich collector will buy it for themselves or the city at large.

On Tuesday afternoon at 5PM, with the winds whipping through the plaza, various dignitaries like PJ Johnston congratulated themselves...

...and other commissioners for bringing "world-class" public art to San Francisco...

...while praising the "visionary, forward-looking, and impatient" Mayor Gavin Newsom, who showed up late to the ceremony.

The General Manager of San Francisco's corrupt and ineffective Rec & Park Department, the Nigerian Yomi Agunbiade, also joined in the hosannahs for our brilliant, forward-thinking Mayor...

...and was followed by Newsom, who uttered a few cliched banalities that were painful to listen to. What was fun was waiting to see if his industrial strength hair gel would stand up to the ferocious winds in the plaza, and it did, just barely.

The most charming moment arrived with the short speech of the 66-year-old artist himself (above left), which was haltingly translated by the gentleman on his right.

It was obvious that Valdes was tickled pink with having his work displayed in this very public "espacio," and I look forward to getting to know his Velasquez-inspired Infantas over the summer.


Nancy Ewart said...

Manolo Valdes! Oi vey! And hay caramba! Excuse the spelling but he's one of my favorite contemporary Spanish artists. I saw a painting of one of his infantas in the last, much lamented Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery and have sought out his work whereever I can find it.

Thanks for the tip. Now that the politicians are gone, it's safe to go and look at the art.

Delphine said...

Hiii I love the little infanta , I can't wait to see it for real.

Las meninas was very political. The way it was painted the spectator was actually seeing what the king and the Queen would see when they were having their portrait done. In a very interesting way this painting would put any spectator in lieu of the king of Spain. Artists have for themselves poetry and irony, both qualities rarely seen in politics. Shame.

I find very courageous to anyone tempting to make an art analysis of Velasquez after Picasso AND Bacon. Can't wait to see it!