Paris, France, 1848-Atuona, Islas Marquesas, 1903
Oil on canvas, 74 x 92 cm
Contributed by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia in 1920
Washerwomen in Arles was painted in that French town, where Gauguin settled late in 1888 summoned by Vincent van Gogh, who hoped to found a community of artists there. The work captures the painter’s concern in emphasising expressiveness over and above formalism, which entailed his final break with Impressionism. This principle, for which Gauguin coined the term Syntheticism, was characterised by non-mimetic representations of nature, the rejection of the third dimension taken from Japanese prints and the separation of colour in broad contrasted planes by means of dark lines. Exceptional features of the work are the abstract background, the impression of movement, the photographic framing that silhouettes certain elements, the flat shapes with dark contours and the areas of pure colour. The distortion and rigidity of the figures betray the influence of the rough stone statuary in Breton churches. In the last few decades of the nineteenth century Gauguin, who began to paint late in life, led the transformation of Impressionist principles into more subjective forms of expression. His artistic language was determined by his trips to Pont-Aven and Arles, not to mention the South Seas. The brightness of the colours and the light in Polynesia and the close ties between the indigenous society and nature caused a great impression on the painter; consequently, the exotic locations and primitive beliefs of Brittany and Tahiti, alongside the pictorial expressiveness of his friend Van Gogh became the references that helped materialise his ideas, which were also rendered in prints, ceramics and, in his last years on the island of Hiva-Oa, in sculpture. [J.N.G.]
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
THE GUEST WORK
01|15|14 • 04|07|14
01|24|14 • 04|28|14
02|18|14 • 05|19|14
06|10|14 • 09|15|14
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
09|23|13 • 02|17|14
10|07|13 • 01|26|14
10|24|13 • 01|12|14