Manolo Millares (1926-1972)
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Manolo Millares (1926-1972)

Cuadro 42

Manolo Millares (1926-1972)
Cuadro 42
signed 'MILLARES' (lower left); signed and titled 'MILLARES-CUADRO 42' (on the stretcher)
mixed media on burlap
63 7/8 x 51¼in. (162 x 130cm.)
Executed in 1958
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Galerie Messine, Paris.
Private Collection, France.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 21 June 2006, lot 17.
Galería Elvira González, Madrid.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Portolés Juan, "Noticias", in Arte vivo, no. 2, III-IV, Valencia 1959 (illustrated, unpaged).
J.-A. França, Millares, Barcelona 1978, no. 79 (illustrated, p. 54).
Banco de Granada (ed.), El Paso: Canogar, Chirino, Feito, Francés, Millares, Rivera, Saura, Serrano, Suárez, Viola, Granada 1978, (illustrated, unpaged).
Exposición homenaje a Manolo Millares, exh. cat., Murcia, Galería Yerba, 1980 (illustrated, unpaged).
F. Calvo Serraller, España. Medio siglo de arte de vanguardia. 1939-1985, Madrid 1985 (illustrated, p. 445).
Del surrealismo al informalismo: arte de los años 50 en Madrid, exh. cat., Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones de la Comunidad de Madrid, 1991 (illustrated, p. 200).
A. Zaya, Millares-Manolo Millares, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 1992 (illustrated in colour, p. 33).
Grupo El Pasoi, exh. cat., Vigo, Centro Cultural Caixavigo, 1997 (illustrated, p. 16).
En el tiempo de El Paso, exh. cat., Madrid, Centro Cultural de la Villa, Ayuntamiento de Madrid, 2002 (illustrated, p. 36.)
A. de La Torre, Manolo Millares: Pinturas Catálogo Razonado, Madrid 2004, no. 123 (illustrated in colour, p. 157).
Barcelona, Sala Gaspar, Exposición de 4 pintores del grupo El Paso (Rafael Canogar, Luis Feito, Manuel Millares y Antonio Saura), January 1959.
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Millares, January-March 1992, no. 19 (illustrated in colour, p. 109).
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, Manolo Millares Werke Von 1951 Bis 1971, March-May 1992, no. 16 (illustrated in colour, p. 63).
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Lot Essay

Manolo Millares' distinctive abstract works, created from an agglomeration of materials attached to a burlap support, teeter on the brink between the ancient and the modern, the archaeological and the contemporary. The traces of life are in mysterious evidence in Cuadro 42, executed in 1958. Its surface appears as timeless as mankind itself; this is a modern fossil, a new proof of life from an age of existentialism that recalls the mummified remnants that fill so many museums throughout the world, speaking of the deeds and lives of long-disappeared civilisations.

The strange, deliberately tattered appearance of Cuadro 42 owes itself in part to Millares' response to the strange, mummified remains of the original inhabitants of the Canary Isles, the Guanches. This essentially extinct race, whose traces had been largely removed by conquest and assimilation, retained a forceful existence in the form of the ancient bodies in the museum in Las Palmas. 'In the Canarian Museum I discovered what man is and, above all, the 'finitude' of man,' Millares explained. 'I realised that what I saw - the extermination of a race - had been an injustice. That was the original starting-point for my sackcloths. It is something that belongs to the past, of course, but something that enabled me to enter the present and become conscious of it' (Millares, quoted in J.-A. França, Millares, Barcelona, 1978, p. 94).

These notions of the vulnerability of man to the forces of history, as well as to the immense potential of mankind, combined in the strange, pseudo-archaeological remains of paintings such as Cuadro 42, which hints at figuration, at the emergence of the homuncule elements that would increasingly play a part in his pictures. Cuadro 42 dates from soon after Millares had moved to Madrid; there, he was already a recognised artist, having gained a reputation in his native Canary Isles. Within a short time of his arrival in the Spanish capital, Millares had struck up a friendship with Antonio Saura, and they formed the core of a new movement, named El Paso. It is a tribute to the quality of Cuadro 42 that it featured, in January 1959, in one of the early exhibitions of that movement, featuring four of the artists related to El Paso: Millares himself, Saura, Rafael Canogar and Luis Feito. In a world torn apart by the Second World War, exposed to Hiroshima and the Holocaust, as well as the Spanish Civil War, Millares and his fellow artists in the movement sought a vivid aesthetic suited to the demands of their age, and not least to the paucity of avant-garde art in Spain at the time. Looking at Cuadro 42, one understands the statement in their manifesto:

'We are trying to attain a revolutionary plastic art which will include both our dramatic tradition and our direct expression, and be our historic response to a universal activity. We are fighting for an art that will lead to the salvation of individuality within the framework of our age. Our goal is a great transformation of plastic art in which may be found the expression of a new reality' (quoted in ibid., p. 64).

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