Thursday, October 30, 2008

José Manuel Capuletti (Part 2)

Well, I got a great response to my prior post, and a lot of advice and comments. It turns out that the portrait of Capuletti's wife Pilar in my first post is not very a life-like rendering. Apparently, the portrait is a composite of Pilar, shown in Paris with José, post bottom left, and of the novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, shown smoking a cigarette, post bottom right. Rand had written a glowing review of Capuletti in the November, 1966 issue of The Objectivist and she owned some of his work.

The first painting in this post, in blue above, is Percepción Onírica de Dalí, "Dalí's Dream-Prophetic Vision." One of the nude figures is swinging a slingshot. The Balearic islands, where Salvador Dalí resided, are named after βαλεαρεῖς or "slingers" in Greek. Dalí's influence on Capuletti is obvious. Dalí here appears to be beheaded, a touch of red along the line of his neck. The overall blue color hints at an altered state of consciousness. The second painting of the bather with a cypress is entitled Danza Humeda or "Moist Dance." The figure is simple and the composition seems random, note the clothes line. Why the word "dance" would be in the title remains obscure.

One critic describes Capuletti as Dalí with one tenth of the skill. Others praise or criticize Capuletti for his coldness and "sadism." See a discussion with remarks on other painters here. The consensus seems to be that Capuletti's best work is not available on the web, which is unfortunate. You can also visit Paper Tiger and, in Spanish, Mayrena.com to see some more on the artist.

Compare these portraits of Pilar Capuletti and Ayn Rand to the figure with rose and playing cards in Part 1.

1 comment:

John Boland said...

I don't know where the notion started that one or more of Capuletti's portraits of Pilar are actually of Rand, or are composites, but I think it's mistaken. The representations of Pilar vary over the years. Some, which are not flattering, bear little resemblance to the others (and no resemblance to Rand). But in any case, the image in that odd painting you posted is quite consistent with many, many others of Pilar dating to the mid 1950s.

You can find many examples in Brasas Egido's book. Just a few are La Biblioteca (from 1958), El paisaje (a variation on the one you show), Desnuda en la biblioteca (from 1955), Pilar (1955), Retrato en azul (1961), La cuestion (1964). Retrato en azul, in particular, is almost exactly the likeness he used in the later paintings that we're told are of Rand or are composites.