Learning More About Spanish Modernism

Isidre Nonell, La Paloma, 1904
Isidre Nonell, La Paloma, 1904 Public Domain

Isidre Nonell, La Paloma, 1904

When you think about Spanish modernism, a few superstars come to mind (Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, maybe Joan Miro) and tend to blot out all the rest. So during a recent trip to Spain I was completely floored and delighted to find so many other 20th-century Spanish artists that I knew nothing about.

Isidre Nonell was a Catalonian artist with a distinctive style. He used muted yet colorful tones, and applied paint almost as if he were working with chisel and stone, leaving regular, textured lines of pigment on the canvas. His portraits of destitute, weary women and children, often gypsies, alienated the conservative Barcelonan society that he worked and lived in, but provide a harrowing view of the so-called untouchables at the turn of the twentieth century.

Another artist I couldn’t get enough of was Joaquim Mir. His landscapes were really exceptional due to his use of searing colors and unusual vantage points. Pau Gargallo, a sculptor, was a standout too. His use of iron was innovative, uniting a strong sense of movement and energy with heightened detail within a piece.

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