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Santiago Rusiñol i Prats (February 25, 1861 - June 13, 1931) was a Catalan Spanish Post-Impressionist* and Symbolist* painter, poet, and playwright. He was born in Barcelona in 1861, and died in Aranjuez in 1931 while painting its famous gardens.
He influenced Pablo Picasso as a modern artist, and also left a lot of modernist* buildings in Sitges, a town in Catalonia very influenced by that artist. He attended the Gervex Academy in Paris where he discovered his love for modernism. He was most known for his plays, and for landscape and garden paintings.
After leaving school he worked in his family's textile businesses, but he quickly broke with this family tradition and left to embark upon a career as an artist. Largely self-taught, he developed his own technical capacity in the Centre d'aquarelistes de Barcelona (Watercolour Center of Barcelona), and was also a follower of Tomas Moragas.
After a visit to Paris in 1889, where he lived in Montmartre with Ramon Casas and Ignacio Zuloaga, his paintings adopted grey tonalities following the manner of Whistler, and became influenced by the Impressionists*. His paintings of that period are basically landscapes, urban themes, portraits and also Art Nouveau* symbolic compositions.
From 1896, after traveling to Andalusia, he started to paint gardens. When he returned to Barcelona, he became one of the most active developers of the Art Nouveau* movement joining artists and avant-garde writers who met in a bar whose name they adopted as their own. He also was linked with L'aven, a magazine treating Art Nouveau themes.
The life of Santiago Rusinol is strongly linked with the town of Sitges, which he first visited in 1881. Immediately taken with the town, he decided to settle there and bought a house to exhibit his enormous collections of forged iron, glass pieces, pictures and other objects that today are part of the "Cau Ferrat Museum". He also organized the town's famous Modernist festivals.
Rusinol's enthusiasm for Sitges is based on the exceptional natural conditions and beauty of the area, and also because of the existence of an interesting school of painters there named "Escola Luminista," whose members included Joan Batlle i Amell, Felip Mass, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Joan Roig i Soler, Joaquim de Miro, and others. (For information about the school, see the specific bibliography at the end of the page).
In addition to his activities as a painter, he also was a writer of some repute. Rusinol started to write at the age of twenty. His first writings were nature descriptions and letters, especially those to his future wife Llusa Dens. These texts were very important for him to test his grasp of language, and we find in them an element of caricature. Some of these writings, although not intended for publication, nevertheless appeared in the journal La Vanguardia and reveal his talent for criticism and irony.
Rusinol was also tempted by the theatre. He wrote various plays with enormous success, such as Els Jocs Florals de Canprosa, El Pati Blau (1903), and also a large series of dramas, comedies and vaudevilles, culminating in 1917 with the theater version of L'Auca del Senyor Esteve.
Rusinol died in Aranjuez, Spain, in 1931.
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