Valencia’s Favourite Artists
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
Valencia 1863 – Madrid 1923
The painter of vibrant sunshine without equal
Valencia’s most famous artist studied in Madrid and Paris and then in Rome, alongside fellow Valenciano Josep Benlliure
After his training,
Sorolla settled in his beloved Valencia. His open air paintings of the fishermen, the oxen pulling the fishing boats to shore and the sea bathers in early 1900’s Cabanyal and Levante are some of the most important and evocative studies of the area
They also represent one of Sorolla favourite themes, key in his development as a painter and are amongst some of his most famous works. Visit Valencia’s Museo of Belles Artes to see a gallery dedicated to Sorolla’s life and paintings.
Valencia 1909 – Barcelona 1985
‘I call myself an image hunter’
Centelles is known as the Spanish Robert Capa and is a pioneer of photo-journalism , a staunch Republican who is most famous for his images of the Spanish Civil War.
Centelles was apprenticed in the 1920’s to the Spanish cinemamatic pioneer Ramon Banos. By 1934 he was an independent photographer for the Spanish press and his images were often used in pre-Republican propaganda stories.
He reported the conquest of Teruel, one of the war’s fiercest battles, but by 1939 had fled to France taking his most important negatives with him. Franco had seized all those left behind.
In France Centelles was imprisoned in the Bram P.O.W camp , where he set up a small darkroom and continued to
photograph the camp and its prisoners, leading to some of his most important work.
On his eventual return to Spain in 1946 he left all his remaining negatives in the attic of a house in Carcassonne, realizing that they might be seized again by the Francoist authorities, implicating his fellow Republicans.
In 1976 , 30 years after leaving France and after the death of Franco, he returned to Caracassone to retrieve his negatives which now form part of the photographic collection at the Salamanca Centre of History .
Valencia 1862 – 1947
The younger brother of painter Jose is widely considered to be the last great Spanish realistic sculptor. Born in Valencia’s Maritim district, Mariano’s naturalist detailed approach tinged with the spontaneity of Impressionism, made him very popular throughout Spain.
His work progressed from his early bullfighting figurines to the more grandiose public monuments
of prominent Spaniards including Goya and Velazquez, writer Trueba and King Alphonso XII.
Mariano Benlliure was depicted on the 500 peseta note from the 1950’s and
his works are held in all the major galleries across Spain, as well as in the Museum of Jose Benlliure in Valencia.
Eduardo Munoz Bachs
Graphic Designer – Cuban Poster artist
Valencia 1937 – Havana 2001
Though born in Valencia , Bachs and his family moved to France when he was two years old and then to Cuba in 1941, probably fleeing their native country because of the Spanish Civil war.
Even though Bachs was a gifted artist, he had no formal training or art education . In 1960 he made the first poster for the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) , founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution to produce and promote Cuban cinema .
Over the next 40 years Bachs produced over 2000 film posters. Today he is seen as the greatest Cuban poster designer of all time
Architect and Builder
Valencia 1842 – North Carolina 1908
The greatest ever architect you have never heard of.
Rafael Guastavino studied in Barcelona and was a contemporary of Antoni Gaudi. He is most famed for inventing the Guastavino Arch , inspired by the tiling of his home town of Valencia . This self -supporting vaulted arched ceiling was held together by interlocking tiles and has been used in the construction of over 1000 buildings around the world including 300 buildings in New York.
Many are still standing, including The Carnegie Hall , The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, the Old City Hall Subway station and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art – enriched by the splendid Arch and the work of this talented Valenciano.
Street Artist – Muralist
Valencia – 1983
‘I’m not interested in being told that what I do is pretty, not even that I do it well. I’d rather provoke some kind of thinking in the spectator. I’m not looking for decorative paintings, I try to wake up viewers’ minds.’
Spanish muralist and street artist Escif hails from Valencia, but is active globally with recent works popping up throughout Canada, Italy, and France.
His use of subdued colours and simple lines helps the artist communicate his humorous and direct commentary on capitalism, politics, the economy and other sensitive social issues.
Escif was educated in fine arts and conceptual workshops inspired by comics books , film and classic painters but most of all by daily life
He starting painting his hometown streets in the late 1990’s as part of the XLF crew , who include Dieh, Cesp, and Sr Marmota. More recently he has collaborated with the Argentine artist Hyuro. From his satirical and politically charged small works to his huge murals spanning entire buildings he is the most famous street artist to have come out of Valencia.
Vicente Blasco Ibanez
Novelist – Journalist – Politician
Valencia 1867 – Menton 1928
Blasco Ibanez , Valencia’s most famous writer, studied law but never practised it. As a militant Republican he founded the controversial newspaper El Pueblo ( The People ) and was imprisoned over 30 times for his political beliefs .
He is most renowned as a realist writer, who produced over 30 books including Flor De Mayo, a love story set in El Cabanyal which gives moving, evocative descriptions of the fishermans’ quarter .
Five of his novels were made into films. Of these The Temptress and The Torrent, filmed at Hollywood MGM studios were also the first movies to star Greta Garbo. Rita Hayworth and Rudolf Valentino also featured in films made from his works.
The former home of this rightly revered author in Malvarossa is now a Museum, dedicated to Ibanez and his work.
Architect – Sculptor – Painter
Calatrava is one of the world’s most famous architects, whose Neofuturistic buildings have won numerous awards.
He studied in Valencia and Zurich and his spectacular work has been used for bridges and transport hubs.
The extraordinary City of Arts and Sciences and the dazzling Alameda Metro Station are his most important landmarks in Valencia.
Worldwide, the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Bahnhof Station, in Zurich and the Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin are also key Calatrava creations.
Calatrava’s acclaimed ceramics and sculptures are often the first steps toward the realization of his architecture.
Josep Renau Berenguer
Photomontage – Muralist – Poster Art
Valencia 1907 – Berlin 1982
‘I am not a Communist painter , Just a Communist who paints’
After studying fine art in Valencia , Josep won his first poster competition aged 18. With the onset of the Spanish Civil War he began designing posters in support of the Republicans as well as posters for Tourism Valencia including the famous Las Arenas/ Cabanyal Art Deco poster.
In the late 1930’s , Renau helped design the Spanish Pavilion in Paris and later commissioned Picasso to paint a mural, which eventually became Guernica.
Renau fled Spain for Mexico and made his living from designing film posters. His most famous works are a collection of montages known as The American Way of Life – forerunners to the 1960’s American pop art culture.
Jose Benlliure y Gil
Valencia 1858 – 1937
Born in Cabanyal- Canyamelar, Benlliure comes from a family of artists. His two brothers were the sculptures Mariano and painter Juan Antonio.
Known as the favourite son of the city, he began painting at the age of 10, often selling his works to pay for household expenses. Formally educated in Valencia and Rome, his works combined family and religion with local customs. By the age of sixteen he had portrayed the Duke of Aosta and King Amadeus of Savoy,
Benlliure, became the director of the Museum of Belles Artes in Valencia and has a street named after him in El Cabanyal.
The Prado in Madrid and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London hold his works in their collections and today his house in Valencia is a Museum which also shows Sorolla’s paintings.