Even in the ancient world the bull took a central role in Mediterranean culture, a role clearly reflected in the art produced in the area. The image of the bull in myths, ritual ceremonies and games and fiestas appeared in statuary and on ceramics and murals as far back as the Bronze Age, remaining at the forefront well into Roman times.
Many of these images were revisited in the Renaissance, particularly the ones linked to the myth of the Minotaur a and the Abduction of Europa. From the 17th century, artists added a new dimension as they became increasingly interested in the festive side of bullfighting. Some of the greatest artists of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries worked with the iconography of modern bullfighting, recalling the ancient cult that worshipped the brute force of the bull while turning a pitiless eye on death.
The exhibition includes more than 200 works, ranging from pottery, works on paper, sculptures and paintings, from the Bronze Age and Greek ceramics to the present day, including creations by the likes of Manet, Goya, Zuloaga, Gutiérrez Solana, Picasso, Miró, Magritte, Equipo Crónica and Barceló.
In the image:
Pablo Picasso (Málaga, 1881- Mougins, France, 1973)
Oil on canvas, 54 x 73 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid