Oscar Domínguez (1906-1958)
Oscar Domínguez (1906-1958)
Oscar Domínguez (1906-1958)
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Oscar Domínguez (1906-1958)


Oscar Domínguez (1906-1958)
signed and dated 'Dominguez 1951' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 3⁄4 x 19 3⁄4 in. (73 x 50 cm.)
Painted in 1951
Maria Martins, Brazil (acquired from the artist).
Lucia Dixon Donnelly, Washington, D.C. (by descent from the above).
Private collection, Washington, D.C. (acquired from the above); sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1994, lot 281.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Post lot text
The Association of experts and heirs in defense of Óscar Domínguez's work confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

At the age of three, Domínguez suffered from a neurological disorder, believed to be Sydenham’s Chorea, that left him bed ridden for the next two years. Due to complications from his illness Domínguez developed an abnormally large head, a quality he felt that he shared with the Spanish fighting bull and its raised morrillo—a feature prominently displayed in the present painting, Taureau. Domínguez adopted the fighting bull as a metaphor for himself, and it would become a defining motif of his oeuvre.
Despite his illness and the premature death of his mother, Domínguez was afforded opportunities thanks to his prosperous family, his father in particular who fostered his artistic impulses, personally tutoring him in painting. In 1927, at the age of nineteen, Domínguez travelled to Paris to assist with the family’s export business and quickly became intoxicated by Parisian nightlife. Enamored by the work of avant-garde painters, he was greatly influenced by Yves Tanguy and Pablo Picasso. Drawn to the bizarre and outlandish practice of Surrealism, Domínguez soon befriended André Breton and became an integral member of the movement’s inner circle by the mid-1930s.The arching, uncontrolled figure of the bull in Taureau together with the geometric and linear details, evoke the technique of automatic drawing, popular among the Surrealists.
Domínguez’s post-Surrealist work reflects with clarity the enormous influence of Picasso, his friend and idol, who likewise depicted scenes of the corrida. In Brassaï’s writings on Picasso’s life he recalls, “He [Picasso] is with Oscar Domínguez, a strapping man from Teneriffe, also passionate about bullfighting. He has been coming around more and more often. A very gifted painter, with astounding skill, he is learning a great deal from Picasso, too much even: some of his canvases are becoming “after the manner of…” Picasso has a weak spot for this big lout with the gigantic, disproportionate head of a hidalgo and little mustache, nonetheless an attractive and vitally robust man” (Conversations with Picasso, Chicago, 1964, p. 236).
In bullfighting there are three almost theatrical stages or tercios in which the bull is injured and exhausted. The pane of undulating red behind the figure of the bull in Taureau indicates that he is entering the final stage, tercio de muerte, in which the bull is lured around the arena by the matador’s muleta in preparation for the final execution. Domínguez paints the indignant Taureau in its penultimate and final throws at a time when, unbeknownst to the artist, he too was entering the final years of his life. The proud yet ill-fated fighting bull is a fitting symbol of an artist who also experienced a brief life full of passion and suffering.

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