Artwork Detail

Gina
1958–59
Spanish, 1930–1988
Oil on canvas
64 1/16 x 54 3/8 "
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard K. Weil, 1963
WU 4066
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
In the late 1950s Antonio Saura, along with Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera, and others, founded the Spanish group El Paso (The Step). Dedicated to the revitalization of Spanish art, its members, many of whom traveled internationally, brought Abstract Expressionist and "art informel" practices to Spain. A short-lived association of artists (it was established in 1957 and disbanded in 1960), El Paso strove to incorporate international modernist practices of abstraction with expressionism, whose long lineage in Spain includes Picasso, Velázquez, and El Greco. Saura often used the techniques of gestural abstraction—vigorous brushwork, an untutored, childlike approach, and brash or even ugly color schemes—to portray human figures and classical religious themes, as in his collage "Crucifixion" (WU 2005.0007). "Gina" belongs to Saura’s Women series, many works of which evoke famous actresses such as Brigitte Bardot or, as in this case, Gina Lollobrigida, and use aggressive brushwork to render the female sex symbol as a fearsome semiabstract monster. In an era when many (male) artists were particularly interested in aligning the act of artistic creation with primitive instincts and primal drives, the female form (seen as both alluring and dangerous) was often imbued with such ambivalent associations. [Exhibition label, 2015]