Manolo Millares (1926-1972)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Manolo Millares (1926-1972)

Cuadro 121

Details
Manolo Millares (1926-1972)
Cuadro 121
signed 'MILLARES' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'MILLARES-CUADRO 121 (1960)' (on the stretcher)
mixed media on burlap
51¼ x 64in. (130 x 162.3cm.)
Executed in 1960
Provenance
Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris.
Galleria Odyssia, Rome.
Betty Estévez, Paris.
Private Collection, Basel.
Anon. sale, Champin-Lombrail-Gautier, Enghien-Les-Bains, 19 June 1991, lot. 29.
Private Collection, Germany.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 6 February 2002, lot 24.
Private Collection, London.
Literature
J.A. França, Millares, Barcelona 1977, p. 249, no. 119 (illustrated, p. 70).
A. de la Torre, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Fundación Azcona (eds.), Manolo Millares Pinturas Catálogo Razonado, Madrid 2004, no. 205 (illustrated in colour, p. 237).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
We are most grateful to Mr. Alfonso de la Torre for the information he has kindly provided.

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Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘To the immediate reality arrives my free and anguished protest: it manifests itself through the tearing of clothes, the pierced and wounded textures, the noise of crashing ropes, the stupid wrinkle of beauty, the telluric wound and the frightful truth of the Homunculus’
MANOLO MILLARES

‘[The artist] is the only man, the world, a recorder of things in the raw ... He follows very closely the despair of our time, watches over it and sews up its wounds; he records it in the scream from the deepest hole’
MANOLO MILLARES


Like an open wound patched together with bandages, Manolo Millares’ Cuadro 121 offers a dual vision of destruction and salvation. Paint bleeds across its torn surface, running in inky black rivulets down the length of its tattered exterior. Executed in 1960, the work confronts the viewer like an ancient relic from an unknown civilization: an excavated fossil, weathered by the scars of time. Figurative illusions lurk in the work’s gaping voids: two eyes and a mouth, perhaps, or the faint outline of a cross. Raised in the Canary Islands before moving to Europe in the mid- 1950s, Millares’ fascination with remnants and ruins is grounded in his early visits to the Canarian Museum in Las Palmas. There, he encountered the mummified remains of the island’s native Guanches, who had been driven to extinction by colonial conquest. ‘I discovered what man is and, above all, the “finitude” of man’, he 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’ (M. Millares, quoted in J-A. França, Millares, Barcelona 1978, p. 94). Mankind’s latent vulnerability – but also its extraordinary potential for endurance – would become a definitive theme in Millares’ oeuvre. As his practice evolved, the violent abstract textures of his works were increasingly haunted by ghostly ‘homuncule’ traces: faint human-like presences that lingered in the folds and shadows. ‘[The artist] is the only man, the world, a recorder of things in the raw’, Millares wrote. ‘He follows very closely the despair of our time, watches over it and sews up its wounds; he records it in the scream from the deepest hole’ (M. Millares, quoted in J-A. França, Millares, Barcelona 1978, pp. 132-33). In the present work, this conviction is brought to bear on a visceral expression of fragility, fear and faith.

Millares first began making collages in 1954, using a combination of sackcloth, ceramics, wood and sand. Following his move to Madrid in 1955, he began to engage with the work of Alberto Burri, whose torn burlap creations resonated profoundly with his own practice. However, as José-Augusto França explains, ‘[Burri’s] universe is totally different from that of Millares, both externally and internally. His glued and sewn sackcloth would never permit itself to explode; and instead of shrieking wounds they soberly present scars. In Burri’s work the “accident” has occurred before the curtain goes up; in Millares it is the “accident”, in the form of a catastrophe, that interests us: it presents itself to our eyes and forces us to share the great repugnance it expresses’ (J-A. França, Millares, Barcelona 1978, p. 181). Though frequently associated with the development of Arte Povera, as well as the Art Informel movement driven by artists such as Antoni Tàpies and Jean Fautrier, Millares’ aesthetic was fundamentally rooted in the horrors of recent history: notably the Second World War, Hiroshima and the Spanish Civil War. As a founding member of the Spanish avant-garde group ‘El Paso’, along with artists such as Antonio Saura, Pablo Serrano and Manuel Rivera, Millares sought to visualise the state of humanity in an age marked by deep trauma. ‘To the immediate reality arrives my free and anguished protest’, he asserted; ‘it manifests itself through the tearing of clothes, the pierced and wounded textures, the noise of crashing ropes, the stupid wrinkle of beauty, the telluric wound and the frightful truth of the Homunculus’ (M. Millares, quoted in Manolo Millares: Recent Paintings, exh. cat., Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1960, unpaged). In the present work, Millares offers a momentary glimpse of hope: as light penetrates the damage, it illuminates faint figural traces that, though battered and buried, refuse to be Manolo Millares, 1963. extinguished.

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