Hermen Anglada-Camarasa

Barcelona, 1871 - Port de Pollença, 1959

  • Gypsy Dance

    c. 1914-1921

Beginning in 1888 Hermen Anglada-Camarasa often exhibited his work in Barcelona, chiefly landscapes in the style of Modest Urgell, whom he always acknowledged as his great master despite having had other instructors such as Josep Planella and Tomàs Moragas. His first one-man exhibition was held in 1894 at the Sala Parés in Barcelona. After years of struggling hard in Paris, where he took up residence in 1894 and attended the Académie Julian, he embarked on a glorious international career (Paris, after 1898; Barcelona, 1900; Berlin, 1901, 1902 and 1904; Brussels and Ghent, 1902; and London, Venice, Munich, Düsseldorf and Cologne, 1903) underpinned by his iridescent visions of Paris by night and his personal contribution to international Post-Impressionism and to Catalan Modernisme.

After a short trip to Valencia in 1904, he assimilated the influence of predominantly decorative paintings on Spanish folk themes and enjoyed even greater success in Europe and South America (apart from Paris: Dresden and Vienna, 1904; London, 1904 and 1908; Munich, 1905 and 1911; Venice, 1905, 1907 and 1914; Berlin, 1906; Brussels, 1907 and 1911; Barcelona, 1909; Zurich, 1910; Buenos Aires, 1910 and 1915; Rome, 1911 and 1914; Prague, 1913; and Moscow, 1914). But more importantly, he came into contact with the sensibilities of the modern Russian school: Gorki, Diaghilev, Meyerhold and Kandinsky, who greatly admired him.

Anglada settled in Majorca in 1914 with several of his South American pupils from Paris and concentrated on depicting the island’s dazzling landscape. During those years he held major exhibitions in Barcelona (1915), Madrid and Buenos Aires (1916) and Bilbao (1919). The change of direction in European art triggered by the First World War led him to turn to the United States, where his art was greatly admired and where he exhibited constantly (Washington, 1924; Des Moines, Los Angeles and Dallas, 1925; New York, 1925 and 1926; Pittsburgh, 1925, 1926, 1929 and 1930; Chicago, 1925 and 1931; Philadelphia, San Diego and St. Louis, 1926; Boston, 1930; Cleveland, 1931; and Providence, 1934). His work was also frequently shown in Buenos Aires and Majorca. He was distinguished with a room of honour at the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona and major retrospectives were held in London and Liverpool (1930).

Anglada was in Barcelona when the Civil War broke out. Once Majorca had fallen into the hands of the Nationalist faction the artist, who was a Republican and a freemason, found a new and fertile subject matter – very much in line with his love of decorative complexity – in the unusual mountain landscape of Montserrat, where he lived with the support of the Catalan government between 1936 and 1939. During his French exile in Pougues-les-Eaux (1939-47) he chose to repeat his previous subjects rather than incorporate new elements into his work. Nevertheless, the adversities of the Second World War and his advanced age cut him off from the most dynamic trends in international art. He moved back to his house in Majorca in 1947 and once more painted his adoptive island until an accident forced him to retire after a few one-man exhibitions in Barcelona (1947 and 1952). He was lavished with official honours by Spain’s new regime, which granted him a room of honour at the 1954 National Exhibition in Madrid, honorary membership of the San Fernando Academy and the Grand Cross of Alfonso X as it regarded him as a useful means of boosting the little credibility it enjoyed in cultural matters.

Francesc Fontbona