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The empire strikes back: Baroque art and Spanish contemporary culture

(1 November 2019)

Zurbarán Fellow's Public Lecture on Tuesday 12 November 2019 at 5.30 pm in the Kenworthy Hall St Mary’s College. Attendance is free but registration is essential. To book a place email zurbaran.centre@durham.ac.uk. The Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art is delighted to welcome Professor Luis Vives-Ferrándiz Sánchez as this academic year’s first Zurbarán Fellow. Professor Vives-Ferrándiz Sánchez is a lecturer in the History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of Valencia in Spain. He is a specialist of Baroque and Neo-Baroque art and theory, with a special focus on the presence of the past in contemporary visual culture and the historiographic models that explain such persistence.

Hispanic identity has been shaped during the last century by a conscious selection of historical periods of its history. After the loss of the last colonies of the former Spanish Empire at the end of the 19th century, the nation had hit rock bottom in political terms. To counterbalance this decline, writers, poets, essayists and scholars from the so-called generation of 98 aimed for the restoration of the cultural splendor of the Spanish Golden Age, a period of flourishing in arts and literature that spans from Philip II’s reign until the death of Charles II in 1700, the last of the Habsburg monarchs. This wish has been constant through the 20th century and is also connected with the raise of neo-baroque aesthetics and postmodernism. Baroque has become a multifaceted concept and, nowadays, is more a space of reflection than a chronological or formal label. The lecture will explore the continuity of baroque art in Spanish contemporary culture such as art, photography, cinema, pop music, comics, cartoons, internet memes, football or television series, where the fascination with Spanish Golden Age is not only a matter of style or aesthetics but also political and identitary. From inspiration to appropriation, from art galleries to politics, baroque art is a powerful tool in contemporary Spain.