|Ramon Casas i Carbo, "Self Portrait," 1908|
Mr. Casas was born in Barcelona in 1866 to a wealthy family and by his teens was already an accomplished painter. His family wealth must have allowed him considerable freedom, so that he traveled to Paris while still in his teens to study art. He was able to travel to other locales during the warm months, particularly Madrid, always returning to Paris in fall. During his times in the city and yet in his teens, Mr. Casas studied at the Carolus Duran Academy. At age 18 he exhibited a self portrait dressed as a flamenco dancer in a Paris exhibition, and he continued to study, paint and exhibit there. By the early 1890s, he and his friend Santiago Rusinol (a Catalan artist as well) lived at the well-known Montmarte drinking establishment, Moulin de la Galette. He was involved in the bar Els Quatre Gats in partnership with several of his friends. The bar in Barcelona, patterned after Le Chat Noir in Paris, was the watering hole for modernistas and hosted art exhibitions as well. They also published a magazine for which Casas made substantial contributions. Later in the decade he settled mostly in Barcelona, returning to Paris for exhibitions. During that period, he became very successful and famous, exhibiting in numerous places in Europe, including Berlin, and in the United States. And although he was wealthy himself Mr. Casas attracted an American patron, Charles Deering (a strong amateur painter himself) who acquired a number of his works. Around this time he met a
|Ramon Casas, "La Sargantain" (Julia Peraire) ca1907|
Now, at the 150th anniversary of his birth, an extensive exhibition of his work is travelling in Spain, having been in Barcelona and Madrid and now in Palma. The catalog of the exhibition is available online, but there is no English translation. But the illustrations are lavish and in color. Mr. Casas knew and influenced (and was influenced in turn) by many of his contemporaries--John Singer Sargent, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Sorolla, Zorn, and even Picasso (who was considerably younger). The exhibition catalog is in Spanish, so if you speak the language, you're set.
Mr. Casas painted many different subjects, including portraits, landscape, history, and figures. Like Lautrec, he designed posters and magazine covers too.
|"Baile en el Moulin de la Galette," 1891Add caption|
|"Casas & Romeu on a Tandem," 1897|
|"Sombras" for Quatre Gats, chromolithograph, 1897|
|"La Carga, or Barcelona 1902" oil on canvas, ca 1900|
|"Despues del baile o Joven decadente," oil on canvas 1899|
Mr. Casas was also an adept figurative artist. During the late 1890s he produced a series of full-length portrait drawings in a modernist style that were widely admired. But his oil paintings were equally prized. Here he paints his model as a decadent youth (Joven decadente in Spanish) who is exhausted by dancing. This painting is in the Museum of Montserrat, in Catalonia.
It's too bad that Ramon Casas has mostly faded from memory. Perhaps one day an exhibition of his work will make its way to the United States. The least we can hope for is an English language publication.