I was super excited when I heard the San Diego Museum of Art was hosting the Joaquín Sorolla exhibit (May 30 – Aug 26, 2014), and I immediately began planning a trip last year. One of my favorite artists, I admire his Valencia beach scenes: wind blown, billowy sails, filled with children, fishermen, families, oxen, and boats. Lovely sunlit paintings.
We spent 2 hours in the exhibit, so we were too tired to see the other exhibits and collections. The museum is located in Balboa Park, one of the largest municipal parks in America. One would have to spend days to explore the park which also houses the Zoo, multiple gardens, and 4 other museums.
Louis Tiffany in his rhododendron garden. This reproduction makes the painting look a bit overdone but standing in front of the large canvas it was quite magnificent.
We went early so we could avoid the crowds. Ahead of us was one docent lead group. This worked out well as it kept the group around select paintings so the rest of the exhibit was pretty much ours to peruse. It was wonderful to get up close to the paintings. Also on exhibit were some of his graphite sketches and small oil studies, some of which were painted on cardboard.
Sorolla (1863-1923) was a prolific artist and this exhibit was but a small portion of his work. There was a mix of his portraits, including President Taft and the wonderful flower filled portrait of Louis Tiffany, landscapes from Granada, Cordoba, and Seville, the Valencia beach scenes, and a few from his cultural Spain series.
Previously I had only viewed reproductions of Sorolla’s work. There is a world of difference in seeing the painting in person. The colors and details cannot be adequately reproduced, nor can the play of the light over the oil paints, the subtlety of the paints and laid on colors, the vibrancy.
Opening the exhibit was one of his greatest and largest paintings, “Sad Inheritance!”, (82.7 × 112.2 in). Sorolla’s contemporaries were John Singer Sargent and William Merrit Chase, to whom he gifted studies of his painting for “Sad Inheritance!”.
In addition to his deft brush work, Sorolla was a master at depicting and using light, as evidenced in his light filled beach scenes, but can also be seen in some of his portraits. Motion was another technique on which Sorolla studied and it can be seen in the delightful “Running along the beach”. Several of his studies for this piece were exhibited.
Running along the beach. I love the way Sorolla fills his beach scenes with people, children playing, people working, people strolling on the sand, people enjoying the beach.
The exhibit was well laid out though I wonder how it would be with crowds of people as some of the rooms were small. Because we were there early, before the crowds, we were able to view some of the larger painting from afar was well as very close. I am not a tall person and some of the lighting on the paintings was not at a good height for me. I had to move around to avoid the glare from the lights. There are few seating areas and, as typical with most museums, the floors are hard tiles.
This exhibit runs until Aug 26, 2014. The exhibit then travels to Madrid. This exhibit was curated by Blanca Pons-Sorolla, his the great-granddaughter. A weighty exhibition tome, containing a fair bit of textual information, was available at the gift shop ($60).
The entry fee as of June 2014 was $12 adult admission and $9 for senior (65 years). Parking is free. There is a shuttle available.