Dublin, Ireland, 1909-Madrid, 1992
Oil on canvas, 198.5 x 147.5 cm
Acquired in 1982
A male figure is reflected in a mirror framed by two white lines, which also depicts part of the circular interior—an arena or a stage for erotic performances—in which it is placed. The geometric and chromatic reduction of the floor, walls and roller blinds forms a sharp contrast with the sensual and elastic treatment of the deformed headless presence that dominates the composition, the plastic quality of which matches the interest that sculpture held for Bacon at the time (he kept a picture of Michelangelo’s Day from the Medici Chapel in his studio). Far from making the room larger, the mirror—a common feature in his oeuvre since the late sixties—stresses the idea of confinement and transforms the viewer into a voyeur of his own distorted reality. Having settled in London in 1925, from 1926 to 1928 Bacon travelled to Berlin, Munich and Paris, where he came into contact with the work of Picasso and Buñuel and began to paint. In the early years of the following decade he produced his first major paintings, albeit the little impact they caused led him to destroy a part of his work and to give up painting completely until 1944. During the fifties he would create his own personal style of figurative painting, inspired by the oeuvre of Rembrandt, Velázquez, Van Gogh and Picasso and by the pioneers of photography. The retrospective exhibition of his works held at the Tate Gallery in 1962 built up his reputation, which was confirmed in 1971 by the huge acclaim of his show at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 1990, two years before his death in Madrid, he visited the Velázquez exhibition at the Prado Museum. [M.G.M.]
Independently of its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly organises temporary exhibition programmes.
Please consult the exhibition calendar for more information about the museum's latest proposals.
Cristóbal Balenciaga (Guetaria, Guipúzcoa, 1895–Valencia, 1972) is one of the most important designers in fashion history. He was born in the small coastal town of Guetaria, in the province of Guipúzcoa, where his mother worked as a seamstress. At the tender age of 13, Balenciaga copied a dress belonging to the Marquesa (Marchioness) of Casa Torres. After such a precocious start, the Marquesa became his patron and sent him to Paris to train in haute couture.
En 1913 he opened his own studio in San Sebastian, which was at the time one of the aristocracy’s favourite holiday resorts. The success of his creations, instantly recognizable by the geometric beauty of their cut, his profound understanding of the fabrics he used and the exquisite harmony of his colour ranges helped him to perfect his craft and soon encouraged him to open boutiques in Barcelona and Madrid. This early experience in dressmaking left an indelible mark on his idea of couture, to be seen clearly in the superb cut that characterizes his creations and the masterly handling of the quality of the finest fabrics.
In 1937 he decided it was time to step into the international fashion arena, which he did by opening a boutique for haute couture at number 10 on Paris’s chic avenue George V. Over three decades in the capital of the fashion world, Balenciaga reigned supreme as the ultimate benchmark in haute couture; every collection came replete with innovations as he continued on an obsessive search for a feminine ideal of perfection and elegance. In Paris he also forged the legend of himself as the ultimate hermetic male who shunned high-powered social events. This was his way of drawing attention to himself and earning the admiration of international fashion critics and the loyalty of a clientele of high-society women from Europe and the United States. Balenciaga’s undisputed predominance lasted until May 1968, when he closed all his salons, as prêt-à-porter took the fashion world by storm.
Balenciaga. Designing the limits contains 35 examples of haute couture from the collections of the Basque regional government, the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation, and two private collections in the Basque Country and Madrid. The exhibition is an exceptional staging divided into seven different ambiences, taking visitors on a fascinating itinerary of the creations of one of the greatest fashion designers to have graced the golden age of haute couture.
Babeslea • Patrocinador • Sponsor
09|23|14 • 01|12|15
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
THE GUEST WORK
10|15|14 • 01|12|15
THE GUEST WORK
07|02|14 • 10|13|14
06|10|14 • 09|15|14
05|16|14 • 09|01|14