Manolo Valdés is one of the few contemporary artists to successfully master the disciplines of drawing, painting, sculpture and print making. Inspired by the history of art, Valdés uses famous artists’ work “as a pretext” (como pretexto) to create an entirely new piece of artwork – a distinctive painting or sculpture that is clearly sourced from a known composition, but uniquely brilliant. Yvonne II, on display at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, is part of a series of six monumental bronzes – all over 12 feet in height – depicting female heads inspired by Matisse and Picasso.
Born in Valencia, Spain in 1942, he studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy of San Carlos in Valencia from 1957 - 1959. In 1964 Valdés was one of the founding members of an artistic group called Equipo Crónica along with Rafael Solbes and Joan Toledo. Toledo soon left the association but Valdés and Solbes continued to collaborate. Marlborough Gallery says the group was influenced by American and British Pop Art, which “encouraged them to use their own pop style to experiment with format, image appropriation and social and political references, specifically to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.” After Solbes’ premature death in 1981, Valdés reinvented himself and created an expressive style centered on art-historical motifs.
Valdés’ work may be found in more than forty public collections worldwide, including the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy; Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Germany; Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Modern Museet Art in Stockholm, Sweden; Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, France; Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York.