Geneva Anderson digs into art

“Sargent and Spain” opens at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor on Saturday with a lively curator panel and Flamenco dancing in the courtyard

Sargent was captivated by Spain’s dance culture and his preparatory drawings and finished works are infused with the sultry rhythms and raw sensuality of flamenco.  His many sketches on display at the Legion of Honor show how he studied and mastered these intricate movements, creating dynamic sensual masterpieces which stood in contrast to his society portraits. John Singer Sargent “Study for the Spanish Dancer,” 1880-1881 Watercolor, 11 7/8 × 7 7/8 in. (30.16 × 20 cm) Dallas Museum of Art. Image: FAMSF.

Celebrated as the society portraitist of his era, John Singer Sargent visited Spain seven times between 1879 and 1912, turning out a remarkable body of work, which is explored for the first time in “Sargent and Spain,” at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor through May 14, 2023.   The exhibit, which originated at the National Gallery, presents over 140 of Sargent’s dazzling oils, watercolors, and drawings, along with never-before-exhibited photographs, showcasing Spain’s people, architecture, and magnificent urban and rural landscapes.  A highlight is Sargent’s fascination with dance and several studies portraits of dancers are included.  

This Saturday, the exhibit opens to the public with a performance of live flamenco music and dance, and a panel discussion from the curators, offering an overview of the exhibition and discussion of Sargent’s fascination with Spanish art and culture and its influence on his work—both are free.

Sargent and Spain: Curators in Conversation:  11 – 12 pm Gunn Theater, Legion of Honor

Emma Acker, FAMSF (Fine Arts Musuems of San Francisco) associate curator of American art will lead a conversation with Sarah Cash, associate curator of American and British paintings at the National Gallery of Art, along with Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, exhibition co-curators and co-authors of the John Singer Sargent catalogue raisonné.  The delightful Ormond is the great nephew of Sargent, and grandson of Sargent’s sister, Violet Sargent Ormond and grew up with some of these art works on his walls.  The Gunn auditorium will open 1 hour before the talk and early arrival is recommend to secure seating.

The panel talk will be live-streamed on the Legion’s YouTube channel: click here on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Dance and music performance by Caminos Flamencos:  12 – 2 pm, Court of Honor, Legion of Honor

Sargent was inspired by Majorca, especially by the island’s light and vegetation, and the exhibit devotes a gallery to artworks created there.  His beloved “Pomegranates, Majorca,” from 1908, the exhibition’s poster, features these magical fruits bursting in juicy ripeness amidst a tapestry of plush vegetation executed with dense, expressive brushstrokes.  John Singer Sargent, “Pomegranates, Majorca”, 1908, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 22 inches, anonymous owner, image: FAMSF

Details: “Sargent and Spain” runs Feb 11 – May 14, 2023. The exhibit is free to FAMSF members. For non-FAMSF members, a general entry ticket is required; $28 for adults. Advance reservations are mandatory.


February 9, 2023 - Posted by | Art, Legion of Honor | , , , , , ,

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