Hernando Viñes was born to a Catalan and Guatemalan family (his mother was the daughter of the former president of Guatemala) and raised in an cultured environment frequented by such figures as Ravel, Manuel de Falla and Joaquín Rodrigo. His uncle, Ricardo Viñes, a renowned pianist, introduced him to Parisian artistic circles.
In 1915, he moved with his family to Madrid, where he lived until leaving for Paris, in 1919. On the advice of Picasso, a friend of his father’s, he began his serious artistic training, though outside the conventions of the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1919, he enrolled in the Academie Art Sacré, where his teachers were Maurice Denis and Georges Desvallières, and attended the Academie de La Grande Chaumière. In 1922, he continued his training in the Academy André Lhote and with Gino Severini.His still lifes, landscapes and religious figures from 1921-1925 reflect Cubist influences. In 1923, he created, along with Lanz and Ángeles Ortiz, the sets and wardrobe for El retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter’s Puppet Show) by Manuel de Falla.During this period, under Picasso’s influence, his painting entered a classicist phase.
He began to take an interest in surrealism in 1926, although certain Cubist echoes would always reverberate in his work. Thanks to Ángeles Ortiz, he was introduced into the circle of the Paris School.He took part in several group exhibitions with Picasso, Beaudin, Bores, Fenosa and Suzanne Roger. In addition, in 1924, he met Zervos and Tériade, two Cahiers d’Art critics who gave him their support. From then on, he would exhibit frequently in the Max Berger and Percier galleries, with his first solo exhibition, in 1928, in the latter.
In the early thirties, he rediscovered Fauvism and Bonnard. The intimate and sensual nature of his work at the time coincided with his marriage to Lulu Jourdain.During the Second World War, his work did not receive the hoped for recognition. For a period of time, he stopped painting, giving classes in flamenco guitar to pay the bills.He had returned to Spain when, in 1965, the Museum of Modern Art devoted a retrospective to him. Two years later, he signed a contract with Galería Theo, where he exhibited continuously from then on. He also showed his work in Sala Dalmau in Barcelona and Galería Ruiz in Santander.
Henceforth, his exhibitions were frequent and his work was acquired by different museums. In 1985, after undergoing a serious operation, the Ministry of Culture awarded him the Gold Medal of Fine Arts. Up until his death, in 1993, he created bright and versatile landscapes in their transparent layers and inks, which are reminiscent of ones made by the Barbizon School.
Noemi de Haro