El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso…Everyone will be able to recognize at least one name from this list of famous Spanish artists from different eras and maybe even recall some of their most significant masterpieces. Spain has produced many influential artists who contributed greatly to the history of Western Art, especially during the periods of Renaissance, Baroque and Modernism.
Brief History of Art in Spain – Religion has always played an important role in Spanish Art, especially because it was backed by direct financial support from the Church. 16th century was the era of Renaissance which gave rise to the number of well-known Spanish artists who frequented the neighbouring Italy – the Art center of Europe, where the new techniques and tools were learned to be later incorporated in the masterpieces. This period was represented by such masters as El Greco, Ribera and Velázquez who resided in the major art centers of Spain – Seville, Madrid and Valladolid. The main theme and inspiration for artists were the biblical stories which were painted with the so-called natural realism which replaced the more primitivistic styles of earlier decades. Later the artists branched out to include history paintings and monarch portraits into their repertoire as well. If the epoca of the Renaissance came from Italy, the Baroque style was imported from France. The 17th century is often referred to as the Golden Age of Spanish art and literature, marked by the amazing works of Ribera, Zurbarán, Murillo and, of course, Velázquez. While religious themes were carried over into this period from the Renaissance, many Spanish artists started adopting new styles for their paintings. For example, Tenebrism, the style in which the dark tonalities were predominantly used, could be spotted in the portraits created by the famous Velázquez. Finally, the 20th century was truly the revolutionary decade for the Spanish Art which earned international recognition and a lot of media attention thanks to such names as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí who were originators of Cubism and Surrealism.
Madrid – the Art Center and the Creative Hub of Spain – Madrid is definitely one of the most resourceful art centers in Spain and Europe. The capital of Spain is known for its artistic and bohemian vibe, so it is inevitable that it also has a lot to offer in terms apprenticeship and internship opportunities available in the Arts sector. As it has been mentioned before, it was home to many artists back in times who were courted and supported by royal houses. Over the decades the city has accumulated an incredible collection of art works from across the country and Europe. There are three major art galleries – Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía – whose collections cover several generations of Spanish artists from Renaissance to modern times. Most museums in Madrid welcome students with backgrounds in Fine Arts, Art History and Museum Management from other countries to do placements corresponding to their interests and career goals.
Besides museums, there are plenty of other places for artistic souls to gain valuable experiences to satisfy their aesthetic cravings and pursuits. If your career goals are oriented towards the creative industry, but you personally are not particularly into working with paintings and other Fine Arts items, you can always look into the opportunities in public relations or design which are also offered at museums as well as at large scale and small scale companies in Madrid. The British Council defines the creative industry as the industries that are “based on individual creativity, skill and talent with the potential to create wealth and jobs through developing intellectual property”. Based on this, such fields as photography and design are also part of the creative industry and are both the well developed streams in Madrid.
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