In December 2011, Spanish Institute presented Joaquín Sorolla and the Glory of Spanish Dress, a seminal exhibition analyzing the rich history of Spain’s regional clothing styles through the monumental paintings of Valencian artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923). For the first time, Sorolla’s vivid depictions of Spanish life were shown side by side with the types of costumes they portray.
Conceived by Oscar de la Renta, Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Directors, and curated by Vogue’s André Leon Talley, the show featured more than ten paintings and over thirty rare examples of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. In an unprecedented partnership with the Ministry of Culture of Spain, the exhibition highlighted costumes and artwork never before exhibited in the United States. In addition, a selection of pieces from important contemporary designers demonstrated Spain’s enduring influence on fashion.
In 1911, Sorolla was commissioned by The Hispanic Society of America to paint the mural Vision of Spain. Groundbreaking in both scope and scale, the massive painting cycle focuses on rural life and its customs. The artist dedicated eight incredibly productive years to this ethnographic study, and the resulting work, along with the hundreds of preparatory studies it generated, has become an important map of diverse regional identity, representing Spain in all its glory.
The accompanying catalogue – featuring forewords by Oscar de la Renta and Harold Koda, curator in charge of The Costume Institute, and an introduction by André Leon Talley – was edited by curatorial research associates Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park and consists of an anthology of essays on Joaquín Sorolla and Spanish regional dress by prominent scholars in the fields of art history and costume studies. It is available for sale exclusively at the Institute.
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