Masters of Spain Exhibition Opens Soon at the Polk Museum of Art

“Masters of Spain: Goya and Picasso” opens March 17 at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College.

The exhibition, which runs through June 17, includes more than 50 works of art and features the iconic “Tauromaquia” (Bullfighting) series of etchings by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, as well as rare late-career works by Pablo Picasso in multiple media from ceramic to cardboard.  The majority of the works in the show are on international loan from The Art Company, located in Pesaro, Italy.

Goya was fascinated by the concept of the bullfight as emblematic of Spanish history, as was Picasso, and that theme is represented throughout the exhibition, said Dr. H. Alexander Rich, PMA Curator and FSC Art History Professor. Goya explores the artistry and the violence of the bullfight in the complete 40 prints of the “Tauromaquia” series.

“I believe it can be argued that Goya was trying, through this series focused on the tradition of the bullfight, to revive an element of the collective Spanish spirit, which had been diminished severely following the Peninsular War from 1807 to 1814,” Rich said.

The bull was also an important symbol to Picasso, and the bullfight was something that recurred in his work. He often thought of himself as a bull, as it was the epitome of machismo, Rich said. Picasso’s depiction of the bull is present in his ceramic and two-dimensional work in the exhibition, alongside other frequent Picasso themes including women, his wives and mistresses, and cubistic still lifes. Other notable works in the exhibition come from Picasso’s 1969 “Portraits Imaginaires” series, two pieces on corrugated cardboard representing a king and queen and produced only a few years before his death in 1973.

“These pieces reflect Picasso’s unique use of materials,” Rich said. “All the way to his 91st year, he always loved to experiment.”

A number of famous ceramic works by Picasso are included in this exhibition, including “Corrida,” “Profile of Jacqueline” and “Tete de Chevre de Profil (Goat’s Head in Profile)” from the PMA’s Permanent Collection.

Picasso started working in ceramics in 1946, and the medium became his principal focus for the next nine years. Intentionally imperfect, his works in pottery were all handcrafted, as opposed to spinning on a wheel.

The Members Reception to celebrate the opening of “Masters of Spain” and “Painting a Nation: Hudson River School” is March 23, 6-8:30 p.m. It is free for members to attend; $10 for nonmembers.

The museum will host a free lecture on Goya by Roy Kerr on April 12, 5:30-6:15 p.m. 

A Point of View Gallery Talk on April 13, noon-1 p.m. will focus on the “Masters of Spain” exhibition. It is free to attend.


Polk Museum of Art Receives Florida Humanities Council Grant to Support Goya, Picasso & the Heritage of Spain Panel Discussion

The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to announce that it has received a Florida Humanities Council Community Project Grant to support a panel discussion entitled Goya, Picasso & the Heritage of Spain: Exploring Spanish Culture in Florida from 1513 to Today. The free-of-charge program will take place at the Museum on Tuesday, April 3, from 6:30-8:30 pm. This project was one of six selected to receive funding out of 19 applicants.

A distinguished panel of presenters from four institutions collaboratively developed the humanities-focused program to coincide with the Museum’s Masters of Spain: Goya & Picasso exhibition on view from March 17-June 17, 2018. Included in this show that will be open for viewing prior to the program are Goya’s iconic Tauromaquia (Bullfighting) series of etchings and Picasso’s ceramic plates, one of which depicts a bullfighting scene, among other works.

Using the exhibition as inspiration for the discussion theme, PMA Curator and FSC Art History Professor Dr. H. Alexander Rich, who will serve as panel moderator, invited University of South Florida Spanish Professor Dr. David Arbesú, FSC Spanish Literature Professor Dr. Melissa Garr, Polk State College Ceramics Professor Andrew Coombs, and Centro Español de Tampa President John A. Rañon to consider the question: If Goya and Picasso identified the bullfight as the most potent symbol of Spanish tradition, what can we identify as essentially Spanish in Florida?

Their collective responses formed the content of this 90-minute program that includes a 30-minute audience Q & A. Dr. Rich will introduce the panel, present the thesis, and set the context for subsequent presentations. Dr. Arbesú will focus on the historical presence of Spain in Florida from Juan Ponce de León’s first expedition in 1513 to Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’ founding of St. Augustine in 1565. Dr. Garr will trace cultural encounters that took place throughout Florida’s history beginning with Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca’s text Shipwrecked in 1528 and ending with Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1940. Professor Coombs will discuss the art of pottery, Picasso’s ceramics, and the recent pottery discovered at Tristan de Luna's 1559 Settlement site in Pensacola. Mr. Rañon will present the history of Spanish immigration to Tampa and the Spanish heritage that is embedded in Tampa today.

To learn more about this PMA public program funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, contact Director of Arts Advancement Suzanne Grossberg at 863-688-7743 x298 or