He started out studying for a career in road engineering and law, which, in 1916, he abandoned to enroll in the painting school of Cecilio Pla. He stayed three years, along with the artists Cossío, Ángeles Ortiz and Peinado. After being rejected in the 1921 National Exhibition, he had his first exhibition one year later in the National Fine Arts Exhibition.The next year, he joined the Ultraist movement.At this time he began contributing to different publications −Alfar, Horizonte, Cruz y Raya, Índice, Sí, España, Revista de Occident− with Expressionist-like wood cuttings in the Spanish “veta brava” (forceful) style. During this time, he attended the free academy of Julio Moisés, where he met Dalí and Benjamín Palencia.He frequented different social gatherings of intellectuals and literati and imbibed the atmosphere of the Students’ Residence, whose cosmopolitanism is reflected in his creations along with his attraction to the world of gypsy and bullfighting folklore.
In 1925, after participating in the Exhibition of Iberian Artists, he decided to move to Paris. There he directed his attention to the surrealists and the Fauvism of Derain and Matisse, while immersing himself in the cultural life of the city. He had his first Paris exhibition in Galerie Percier, followed by the first article praising his work, written by Tériade, in Cahiers d’Art.
After a trip to Grasse and Cros de Cagnes in 1929, he turned away from abstraction and embraced what he called “fruit painting”: a return to the real based on line, color and light, with a thematic focus on children, women and the countryside.In 1930 he participated in two group shows:one at MoMA in New York and another in the casino in San Sebastián. In 1931 he signed a contract with the Parisian gallery Vavin-Raspail, where he exhibited his work on repeated occasions.
Around 1934 he began his “fourth period”, characterized by its eclecticism and the sensuality of color. His work was exhibited in Paris, London and the United States.In 1935 he signed a contract with Kahnweiler. That year, he returned with his family to Madrid, where he stayed until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.They then returned to Paris, only to leave again with the arrival of the Second World War. At this time began the most prolific period of his career:still lifes, Mediterranean landscapes, childish scenes, genre paintings, conversations and women fill his work, defined by a light crossing the canvass.
In the fifties, he adopted his so-called “white style”, where, surrounding them transparently, he abstracted the motifs to their utmost expression. In 1966 he was named Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 1971 he exhibited his work in Galería Theo in Madrid, his first show in Spain since leaving the country fifty years earlier.
Noemi de Haro