Friday, December 23, 2016

1911-2013: Ángeles Santos Torroella, Spanish

Self-portrait, 1928, age 17
Ángeles Santos was a Spanish painter whose work created a great sensation when she was 18 years old, but after a couple of intensely creative years, her work fell off in both quantity and quality, so that her full talent was unrealized.

Some Spanish sources refer to her as Ángeles Santos, but other sources add a surname: Ángeles Santos Torroella.

Background: Ángeles was born into a family of painters and writers in a small Spanish town near the French border, the eldest of 8 children. Her father was a customs official and the family moved around a lot.

Training: In 1924, when she was 13, Ángeles was sent to a convent boarding school in Seville. When the family settled in Vallodolid in 1927, she had daily painting classes before school.

Career: Ángeles exhibited for the first time at the age of 16 in 1929. After 2 years of showing her student works in her home town, she sent a painting to the prestigious Salon in Madrid and it was accepted. Called Un Mundo, it was a large, surrealistic vision, comparable to the works of Salvador Dalí. It created a sensation in the art world in Spain, especially when it was learned that the painting was created by an 18-year-old in a provincial town.

In the very same year, Ángeles painted another masterpiece, called La Tertulia, or The Discussion Group, in a style that was comparable to the German movement called New Objectivity.

Ángeles had a period of furious activity from 1928 to 1930, age 17 through 19, in which she painted several striking paintings in various Spanish and European styles. Her work is of such high quality that it is hard to believe she had not seen works in these various styles, at least in photographs.

In 1931 Ángeles stopped painting. She had a nervous breakdown; she destroyed paintings, ran away from home, and spent six weeks in a sanatorium. During the 1930s, she painted very little, although her work was exhibited in various shows.

In the 1940s, Ángeles resumed painting, but her style changed to a bland sort of Impressionism. Some of these works are very attractive, but they have none of the ambition or passion of her teenage works.

In the 1950s, Ángeles abandoned her artistic production.

In the 1970s, Ángeles starting getting more attention and recognition, and her work was in major shows every decade for the rest of her life.

I photographed her two best paintings at the Reina Sofia; they are on my website: Painting 2.

Private life: In 1933, when she was 22, Ángeles settled in Barcelona. In 1936 she married a painter named Emili Grau. The civil war erupted the same year, and the couple escaped to France. The following year, Ángeles returned alone, to live with her parents in a village in the Pyrenees, when she gave birth to her only child.

In 1962—after a separation of 26 years— Ángeles reunited with her husband and lived with him between Madrid and a smaller seaside town.

Ángeles' husband died in 1975. Ángeles spent her final years with her son in Madrid. She lived to be 102 years old.

My photos of Ángeles's work:

A World, 1929
Reina Sofia / Jan's photo, 2015

The Gathering, 1929
Reina Sofia / Jan's photo, 2015

Internet Examples:

Uncle Simon, 1928

La Marquesa de Alquibla, 1928

Calle Alonso Pesquera, 1929

Nita and the Dolls, 1929

The Dead Girl, 1930

This example is like the German movement New Objectivity.

Family Dinner, 1930
Later in life, Ángeles worked in an Impressionistic style that is considered bland and uninteresting. The only examples I could find were paintings for sale by galleries, and they were undated.

View of City with Flowers, date unknown

Luxembourg Gardens, date unknown

Paisaje, date unknown

Los Arcos (Sitges), date unknown