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El Greco, Pentecost, c. 1600 (detail). Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

DALLAS, TX.- The Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the Prado Museum in Madrid today launch a three-year partnership, marking the first such international program for Spain’s national museum. The multifaceted collaboration encompasses the loan of major paintings from the Prado, interdisciplinary research at SMU, an unprecedented internship exchange between the two museums, and a range of public programs. The Meadows is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain.

The Prado and the Meadows will be organizing groundbreaking focused exhibitions around pivotal masterpieces on loan from the Prado that will explore the broader cultural, political, religious, and historical contexts for the works. El Greco’s monumental painting, Pentecost, will be the first of three loans to be presented in Dallas, on display from September 12, 2010 – February 6, 2011.

Next year, the Prado will lend the Meadows Jusepe de Ribera’s Mary Magdalene followed by Diego Velázquez’s full length portrait of Philip IV in 2012. The museum will produce a bilingual publication presenting new research across multiple subject areas timed to the installation of each loan, and will organize a series of symposia and educational programming with national and international scholars.

In the fall of 2011, the two museums will initiate The Algur H. Meadows/Prado Internships, an annual exchange with one appointment made by each institution. This will be the first curatorial internship ever to be mounted by the Prado with a foreign institution. Sponsored by the Meadows Museum, the internships will provide graduate students with the opportunity to gain professional and international experience, and to work closely with the curatorial staff at each institution.

After frequent visits to Madrid in the 1950s, museum founder Algur H. Meadows had a vision to establish a ‘Prado on the Prairie’, and built an incredible collection of Spanish art that forms the foundation of the museum today,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark Roglán. “This new partnership is another step in realizing his aspiration.”

Over the course of Roglán’s tenure, the Meadows has mounted numerous exhibitions presenting works that rarely travel to the U.S., partnering with major Spanish institutions including the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Patrimonio Nacional, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. The collaboration with the Prado represents a natural extension of the existing relationship between the two museums, as the Meadows has often lent works to special exhibitions at the Prado and collaborated on research.

Prado Director Miguel Zugaza said, “This special collaboration with the Meadows Museum will bring three of the finest works in the Prado’s collections to a new audience in the United States, where they will each be shown in a new and revealing context. I am looking forward to this project.”

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Philip II, King of Spain, Carta Executoria de los Hijos de Miguel de Carabeo de Ciudad Rodrigo, Valladolid, 23 October 1567. Courtesy of Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, SMU.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (British-Nigerian, b.1962), The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Europe), 2008, c-print mounted on aluminum. © Yinka Shonibare, MBE,, courtesy of James cohan Gallery, New York

Spanish Muse: A Contemporary Response: featuring works by contemporary artists responding to iconic works in Spain. On view from September 12–December 12, 2010, the exhibition will include work by artists such as Thomas Struth, Eve Sussman, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Manolo Valdés, José Manuel Ballester, and Claudio Bravo.

To commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Meadows Museum as a premier collection of Spanish art, this exhibition showcases contemporary works of art whose creators have been inspired by art produced—or collectedin Spain, and featured in some of that country's great public collections. Created in a variety of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, video, and graphic art, these contemporary works will be installed alongside the permanent collection at the Meadows as a way to create meaningful dialogues and forge new connections between art of the past and present. The aim of this installation is to show how works of the past are major sources of inspiration for living artists from all over the world, including Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Featured in this exhibition are contemporary works of art from the last 10 years by José Manuel Ballester, Claudio Bravo, Jake and Dinos Chapman, John Currin, Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Thomas Struth, Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation, and Manolo Valdés.

Velázquez's iconic Las Meninas is the point of departure for the works of both Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation and Manolo Valdés. The snapshot-like, proto-photographic quality of Las Meninas and the psychological charge of the scene prompted Sussman to create the installation 89 seconds at Alcázar (2004). The set design and costumes of the piece were created faithfully to the time period, while the choreography by Rufus collaborator Claudia de Serpa Soares provided the opportunity to imagine Velázquez's scene through gesture. The performance that unfolds on screen explores the narrative intrigue of the painting and further implies psychological nuance.

Performance is the operative word: 89 seconds at Alcázar was shot as a single, uncut choreographic work. With minimal edits that escape perception, the fluid motion of the 10-minute piece is built of moments that come together and then fall apart again.

Manolo Valdés, a Valencian artist, also quotes from the iconic and emblematic fashion in the Court of Philip IV of Spain, using its image of Queen Mariana for his sculpture. Her schematic and unique image has become synonymous with Spain's artistic identity, a major source of inspiration for Valdés throughout his career.

Claudio Bravo and John Currin have both become experts in the painting techniques of the Old Masters. A Chilean artist who resides in Morocco, Bravo has the extraordinary ability to breathe life into otherwise mundane objects through verisimilitude. His two paintings featured in the Meadows exhibition, Pumpkins (2005) and Beige Paper (2007), call to mind Zurbarán's magnificent light effects. Currin's supreme technical skills merge with subversive subject matter in his canvases. Common sources of inspiration for Currin are the European Old Masters, magazine advertisements from the 1950s, and politics. Currin's trajectory over the past two decades has taken him from abstraction to increasingly refined figuration. The iconography of Currin's figurative work runs the gamut from bawdy women to quirky riffs on Old Master themes. Rippowam (2006) combines the ribaldry of a 17th-century bacchanal à la Velázquez with a palette of Goyaesque yellows and blues, and transports the scene forward to a happy rendezvous seemingly from just a few decades ago.

In José Manuel Ballester's El Jardín Deshabitado (2008), the artist has removed all human references from Bosch's famous triptych of 1500-05, The Garden of Earthly Delights. The formerly subordinated landscape of Bosch's moralizing allegory has been transformed into the focus of Ballester's work through digital technology. Despite his subtractive technique, Ballester's recreation does not interfere with Bosch's intent or purpose. Ballester's garden, much like Bosch's, is an object of contemplation. In Ballester's case, however, there are no distractions or temporal references to obstruct the meditative view.

The choice of Bosch as a source for Ballester is also significant as it pertains to the idea of the Spanish muse. Bosch's bizarre paintings were well loved by Philip II. The Garden of Earthly Delights was purchased at auction in 1593 and installed at the Escorial, (Royal Palace), where it remained until 1939. Now at the Prado Museum, Bosch's triptych, as well as many other masterpieces from other non-Spanish schools, is emblematic of the foreign artist as an instrument in forging the Spanish school of painting.

Thomas Struth's Museo del Prado 8-1- 8-5 photographs (2005) are part of the German artist's series of work dedicated to museums' interior spaces, paintings and viewers. The five photographs of this suite were shot in the Prado gallery where Las Meninas and other Velázquez portraits of the Hapsburg royals are installed. Struth's photographs document flocks of visitors in the popular gallery. As part of the Meadows exhibition, Struth's works are at the core of the concept of muse. Etymologically, "museum" derives from the Greek mouseion, "seat of the Muses."

A criticism of art museums has been that, as repositories of works from diverse periods, they destroy the original contexts of the works of art. Struth's museum photographs offer a metahistorical approach to this problem, wherein the work of art itself—in this case the photographshas been created in a museum. Directing our attention to the photographs, we as viewers observe viewers who viewor in some cases idle in front ofthe paintings. Past has been connected with present, which in turn will connect future viewers of Struth's works.

For Yinka Shonibare, MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), deconstructing ideas of empire is a central theme. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Europe), dated 2008, is one of a group of five large photographs which quotes Goya's iconic series Los Caprichos. Each photograph of the suite represents one of five continents (Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Australia). The nationality of the sleeping man in each photograph is "mismatched" with his respective continent. The Dutch batik fabric worn by the sleeping figuredesigned in Indonesia (former Dutch colony), manufactured in England, and exported to Africais also a questioning of identity as defined by empire. Shonibare's response to Goya is well attuned to the Spanish artist's critique of Enlightenment ideals. In each photograph, Shonibare inverts Goya's pronouncement that "El sueño de la razón produce monstruos" ("The sleep of reason produces monsters") into a question. He asks in French whether such dreams produce monsters in each of the continents. For the first time since its creation, Shonibare's photograph will be exhibited at the Meadows Museum alongside the Goya print which inspired it.

When it comes to reworking Goya, there exists no more notorious a pair than Jake and Dinos Chapman. The British brother-artists incited an outcry when they literally reworked an entire late series of Goya's Disasters of War and Los Caprichos printed in 1937 from the original plates. Penciled into Goya's prints are cartoonish characters, monsters and clowns' heads. Critics have described the artists' work on Goya in both positive and negative terms as vandalism; the artists would insist that they are "rectifying" Goya. In defense of their actions, the Chapman brothers cite the example of Robert Rauschenberg, who erased a drawing by Willem de Kooning, which the older artist had given to him. Rauschenberg said he had done this out of admiration for de Kooning. Whether it is defiant love or defacement in the case of Jake and Dinos Chapman versus Goya, their obsession is a clear indicator of the Spanish master's perpetual influence.

Ten prints from the 2005 series, Like a dog returns to its vomit (from Goya's Los Caprichos), will be shown at the Meadows. This is the first time any of Jake and Dinos Chapman's "reworked and improved" Goya etchings will be exhibited at a U.S. museum.

Spanish art from diverse periods continues to inspire artists on a global level. This exhibition, which intersperses contemporary art with the entire Meadows permanent collection, is the first of its kind at our museum.

This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum and funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.

Sultans and Saints: Spain’s Confluence of Cultures: an exploration of the religious character of Spain and its impact on El Greco’s style and subject matter. The show will be on display from September 12, 2010–February 6, 2011, and will feature works of art from the Meadows and other SMU collections in a variety of media, including manuscripts, ceramics, painting and sculpture, all reflective of the cultural and artistic exchange between Jews, Muslims, and Christians from the period of the Convivencia to the Counter Reformation.

This exhibition brings together works created in Counter-Reformation Spain and the precursory period of convivencia. As a corollary exhibition to the loan of El Greco's Pentecost from the Prado Museum, Sultans and Saints: Spain's Confluence of Cultures aims to provide a context for understanding the religious and cultural climate of Spain—and Toledo in particular—during the time of El Greco.

The Toledo of El Greco was a city of Catholic orthodoxy, a city of mystics and of scholarly learning. A significant cultural center, Toledo came to be known by its denizens as the "second Rome." The rich character of the city owed much to its historically diverse population of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

El Greco ingratiated himself with an interesting cross-section of patrons, including members of the archdiocesan council as well as merchants and bankers of converso, or Jewish, descent. Alonso de Villegas, a church canon, authored a book in 1578 on the saints' lives (Flos Sanctorum), in which he specifically praised El Greco's painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586-88), which "portrayed, very life-like, the notable men of our time."

Having taken up residence in Toledo in 1577, El Greco witnessed the Counter Reformation as it unfolded in Spain. Though technically not the capital of Spain—Philip II (r.1556-1598) moved the court to Madrid in 1561—Toledo was a major Catholic stronghold of Europe and the epicenter of the Spanish church. Toledo's archbishops promulgated a spirit of sweeping religious reform that radiated well beyond the city walls to all parts of the Peninsula.

Philip II was the most powerful ruler of Christendom, and he sought to strengthen Spain's unification under Christian rule through strict adherence to the extensive reform taking place within the Catholic Church. Known as the Counter Reformation, this period of Catholic revitalization was an answer to the schism that led to the Protestant Reformation.

The Council of Trent, a series of ecclesiastical meetings held intermittently between 1545 and 1563, effected major changes within the Catholic Church. As a result, doctrine was clarified, questionable practices, such as the selling of indulgences (pardons from punishment), were addressed, and mandates were also placed on artistic decorum. Artistic narrative was to be in firm accordance with the scriptures, while the composition was to be clearly focused and void of ornamental excess.

Reforms initiated by the Council of Trent had particular ramifications in Spain. Before the Protestant "problem," the Spanish church had had to contend with its dilution of power due to significant populations of both Jews and Muslims, who had resided in Iberia for centuries. In 711, Muslims invaded Spain and conquered the Visigoths, who had converted to Christianity. The invasion marked the beginning of convivencia, translated literally as "coexistence," when Jews, Muslims and Christians coexisted in Iberia. A period of attempted cultural syncretism, convivencia was characterized by mercurial spells of peaceful interaction among the three religious communities, as well as by murderous violence. At its high points, convivencia resulted in productive collaboration among the diverse groups. This collaboration is manifested in the hybrid style of art and architecture of the epoch.

With the defeat of Muslim Granada in 1492, convivencia officially came to an end. Under Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Jews were faced with the choice of conversion to Christianity or expulsion from Spain. Suspicious that many of conversos had not truly been converted, Ferdinand and Isabella established the Inquisition in 1478 to pressure and punish individuals and groups suspected of unorthodox beliefs and activities.

In addition to works of art from the Meadows permanent collection, items will be on display from SMU's Bridwell and DeGolyer libraries. Several books and manuscripts generously lent from Bridwell Library have been selected in collaboration with the library's curator of Special Collections, Dr. Eric White. The 25 items on loan from Bridwell Library were produced in Spain from the 15th to the early 17th century. These include an indulgence from 1490 promoting the crusade in Granada, cartas executorias (letters of nobility) issued by Charles V and Philip II, and a collection of sermons and scriptural explications by Domingo de Valtanás, a Dominican priest tried by the Inquisition for his Illuminist leanings. A small selection of works providing an introduction to convivencia and its commingling of artistic styles includes a manuscript of Bernardus de Gordonio's Lilium medicinae, a medical manual translated from Latin into Hebrew for a Jewish doctor in 1466.

Dr. Anne E. Peterson, curator of photographs at De- Golyer Library, has assisted with a loan from a private collector of 19th-century photographs, including images by Juan Laurent, Casiano Alguacil Blázquez and Francisco Almela. These photographs feature the Islamic and Christian ornamentation of the Alhambra the cathedrals of Toledo and Seville.

This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum with assistance from Bridwell Library and DeGolyer Library and funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.

Pentecost

El Greco,  Pentecost, c. 1600. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

When the Meadows Museum opened its doors in 1965, it marked a major milestone in Algur Meadows' commitment to the appreciation and collecting of Spanish art, which had begun over a decade earlier in Madrid. On the walls of the new museum hung the paintings that Meadows and his wife Virginia had collected in response to the compelling inspiration they had found in the paintings by Spanish masters—El Greco, Velázquez, Ribera, Murillo—at the Museo Nacional del Prado. They dedicated themselves to the creation of a "Prado on the Prairie," a vision to which the Meadows Museum remains committed. The present historic collaboration, The Prado at the Meadows: El Greco, Ribera, and Velázquez in a New Context, likewise marks another milestone in the history of both these institutions.

The project will, indeed, bring the Prado to Texas but goes further by establishing substantial and meaningful connections between the two museums; they will share not only their collections but their expertise, ideas and scholars. To this end, the project takes as its inspiration three paintings from the Prado, perhaps some of the very works that so inspired the Meadowses on their visits nearly 60 years ago.

The three-year partnership begins with the present loan, El Greco's monumental painting of the Pentecost, to be followed with masterpieces by Jusepe Ribera in 2011 and Diego Velázquez in 2012.

Inaugurating this groundbreaking collaboration is El Greco's Pentecost, an inspired choice, and one meaningful to the Meadows Museum founder. Certainly among Spain's best-known, most influential

I remember when I saw a full-page color reproduction
in an American magazine on El Greco and I thought to
myself, with this type of display he must be
considered the world's greatest.

—Algur H. Meadows

and gifted artists, El Greco had an admirer in Algur Meadows, who considered him crucial to his collection of Spanish art. Indeed, many works attributed to the Greek-born painter were among his earliest purchases. But the artist, whose popularity had exploded among American and European collectors alike during the 19th century, proved an elusive catch and the enthusiastic Meadows was led astray on every one of his acquisitions, which turned out to be misattributions. It was not until 1999, long after Meadows' death, that his museum was able to purchase an authentic painting by El Greco (Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation, 1605-1610), and it remains the only one in the collection. In the Meadows painting, the great founder of the Franciscan order is depicted in meditation, kneeling before a rocky grotto and contemplating a crucifix, a skull and a breviary to demonstrate his detachment from the world. The composition is one El Greco painted on several occasions, evidence not only of the subject's popularity in Counter-Reformation Toledo but of the lucrative business the artist found in the production of small paintings intended for personal devotion.

In contrast to such paintings, which probably represented the artist's more significant source of commissions, El Greco also carried out monumental works for the Church that took years to complete, of which the Prado's Pentecost forms a part. The canvas is believed to be part of a massive altarpiece the artist created for the Colegio de Doña María de Aragón, an Augustinian seminary in Madrid. Unlike St. Francis, the Pentecost is an unusual subject for El Greco (it is unique in his oeuvre save for one other painting believed to be by his workshop) and indeed in 16th century Spanish painting. The Pentecost commemorates the events described in the New Testament book of Acts (chapter 2, verses 1-4) in which 50 days after Christ's resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended upon his Apostles and the Virgin Mary, who had gathered to celebrate the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks." (The word "Pentecost" literally means "fifty" in Greek.) The Holy Spirit descended in the form of "parted tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak." (Acts 2:3-4) The miracle made it possible for the Apostles to speak the languages of the world and likewise spread out into that world to preach the gospel.

The subject was depicted by El Greco with energetic brushwork capturing the moment of the Holy Spirit's descent ( in the form of a dove, at the top of the canvas) upon the awe-struck faithful. It must have found a particular resonance among its seminarian audience, themselves following the call to evangelize.

The Pentecost would have looked very different to its contemporary viewers, however. El Greco painted the monumental canvas taking into account that it would be viewed from a distance and from below as one of the higher pieces of the altarpiece he designed.

The bearded figure in the right foreground may have appeared even more convincing in the way he appears to fall back in surprise in the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. But the work's new context in a gallery allows viewers to get close and appreciate as never possible before the expressive technique characteristic of El Greco's late work: paint seems to leap about the canvas as though itself responding to the overwhelming event before reining itself in to make clear the expressions on each figure's face. The Meadows Saint Francis offers a tamer, contemplative side of El Greco's late style, perhaps befitting that painting's intimate size, use and subject.

However, the works share the graceful elongation of the figures and the characteristic palette, dominated by muted blues and grays combined with acid blues and greens over a reddish under-layer. They both demonstrate El Greco's innovative genius, which inspired his contemporaries as it does his modern admirers.

With its visit to the Meadows Museum this fall, the Pentecost celebrates this revolutionary artist from the past and an unprecedented collaboration in the present, offering as never before a true glimpse of the Prado in the prairie.

This exhibition and project have been organized by the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University and the Museo Nacional del Prado, and are funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.

In tandem with the installation of Pentecost this fall, the Meadows will present two new exhibitions: