Joan Rebull. The Urge for Volume.

[Read original text in catalan]

Rebull was unquestionably one of the most distinguished of the small number of sculptors and draughtsmen in our modern history of art. Not so long ago, it would only have been possible to make such an assessment by looking in old books,[1] given that much of the artist’s work was lost on his death in 1981. However, the recent publication of the catalogue raisonné of his sculptural work[2] and the excellent work done in recent years by historians who have studied Rebull[3] have brought to light a remarkable collection of drawings and prints which we, with the support of the Fundació Palau in Caldes d’Estrac, have now brought together and given them their rightful treatment in a monographic exhibition for the first time.

However, the exhibition we offer is not a retrospective but a survey exhibition featuring a selection of what we regard as the most polished pieces by the sculptor in the realms of drawing in the main and, to a lesser degree, printmaking and painting. We wish to single out the independent character of one discipline, that of free drawing, which in Catalonia came to maturity with Rebull’s generation. In fact, if we are to believe Joan Merli, Rebull was the first sculptor to mount a one-man show of drawings, which was held at the Galeria Avinyó in Barcelona in 1930.[4] Undoubtedly he was not the first Catalan sculptor to make a name for himself in this art – Clarà and Manolo, for example, had done drawings of impressive facture – nor was he the first artist to have a solo exhibition in this discipline because, as Josep Palau i Fabre records, the first modern exhibitions of drawings in the city of Barcelona had been organised by the modernista painters at the Sala Parés.[5] Even so, it is likely that Rebull and his generation – among them Apel·les Fenosa and Josep Granyer, both born in 1899 – were the first sculptors in our land to devote themselves to the art of drawing, not only as a means to study sculptural work but as an artistic end in its own right. These were the pioneers who took to heart Auguste Rodin’s maxim, according to which the sculptor’s drawing can also serve as an independent and revealed truth.[6]

This abounding creativity in the field of drawing occurred in large part due to the high standard of training available during the period known in Catalonia as Noucentisme. During the opening 20 years of the 20th century, brilliant teachers of art such as Francesc Galí and Francesc Labarta were to be found in the city. These men and others modernised the teaching of the fine and applied arts by means of advanced techniques that involved learning how to draw, techniques far removed from traditional academic teaching – which was essentially based on copying – and focused on stimulating the artist’s own intuition and personality.[7] Rebull, who was born and brought up in Reus, came to Barcelona too late to attend these lessons, but he was able to absorb the results because, following his arrival in the city in 1917, he formed close friendships with fellow artists in the Sant Lluc Artistic Circle – among them Granyer, Fenosa, Serra, Cortés and Sisquella – who had studied under Francesc Labarta and who later formed the group known as the Evolucionistes. These ebullient artists were driven by a single ambition: to undo the bindings of Noucentisme, which was straitjacketed by Eugeni d’Ors’s rules on harmony, and to open up the arts – drawing, painting and sculpture – to the latest French figurative trends, Cubism, Postimpressionism and archaism.

We believe that Joan Rebull’s earliest surviving drawings, which open this exhibition (cat. nos. 1-2), were produced at the Sant Lluc Artistic Circle in Barcelona. They reveal not only the sculptor’s technical skill from the beginning but also his early awareness of the importance of carefully studying the human figure as an aspect of an adequate training in the art of sculpture. “Long and intense study of the human figure is the necessary foundation for a sculptor”, recalled Henry Moore in his writings.[8] According to the British sculptor, analysing the human figure through drawing enabled the novice sculptor to acquire two major skills. Firstly, he could arrive at complex human expressions and postures more quickly and accurately than through the patient art of sculpture. And secondly, it would enable him to resolve a whole host of artistic challenges as regards the human figure, such as volume, dimensions, lighting, shadow, rhythm and balance. “All those things make the human form much more difficult to get right in a drawing than anything else”, Moore adds.

A few isolated drawings have been documented from Rebull’s early days in Barcelona (1917-1927). Some of these works are of a remarkable intensity,[9] such as his Self-portrait of 1917 (fig. 1). The draughtsman creates in the manner of the sculptor who impressed his contemporaries with his first works, with their restrained forms and profiles that hark back to the past. Even so, Rebull did not become an outstanding and prolific draughtsman until his second visit to Paris, where he stayed between 1927 and 1929. His first-hand knowledge of the international avant-garde arts in the bustling Montparnasse of the années folles and the contract he signed at that time with the art dealer Joan Merli, who sold his works, proved to be powerful stimuli that encouraged him to take his work to new heights of output and quality. During these years, Rebull created some of his finest sculptures (Portrait of My Son Jordi [1927] and Female Nude [1929]) (cat. sculpt. H) and branched out widely into new areas. The artist brought together techniques and supports by painting sculptures, drawing using a pen, white lead, watercolours, pastels and assorted inks, and creating works on white, grey or black Canson paper. He also produced etchings (cat. nos. 11-12) and even made so bold as to do his first – and only – oil paintings: Allegory (cat. no. 26) and Anna (cat. no. 27).

The works Rebull produced during his three years in Paris present an extraordinary sense of unity, yet each discipline shines independently. Everything was created in a context of severe austerity, as the artist withdrew into his home in Deuil-la-Barre, in the banlieue of Paris, with his wife and their first son, Jordi, who served as his only models. Equipped with nothing more than a pen, pencil and clay, the sculptor set about producing a remarkable suite of nudes and portraits of his wife Anna (cat. nos. 3-12; 15-18; 25; 27 / cat. sculpts. A-H), in which he used his skill to create works that are both robust, due to their striking study of volume and structural aplomb, and insightful, due to the artistic imagination and tension concentrated in them. Some of the drawings are more evocative and stand alone (cat. nos. 6; 17-20), others are more closely linked to his sculptural output. In most of them, Rebull noticeably distorts the extremities – the hands, feet and arms – revealing the influence of Pablo Picasso, whom he met in 1927, and demonstrates an intelligent understanding of bodily rhythm, indicating he was familiar with the drawings and sculptures of Henri Matisse.[10]

The collection of his Parisian portraits is complemented by very sensitive drawings (Two Cyclists, cat. no. 14; Man and Boy, cat. no. 16; Drawing of a Boy, cat. no. 13) and a later series of an experimental nature (cat. nos. 21-23), which is surprising given he was a confirmed figurative artist. These later pieces are exercises in volumetric abstraction based on human bodies that, according to one historian,[11] Rebull did while he was in Paris, prompted by his contact with the French Avant-garde of his time. To my mind, it is still open to question whether Rebull did these drawings while in Paris. It is true that towards the end of his time in France, he met a number of members of the French Surrealist group (such as the writer and future film director André Cayatte) and that he even contributed to and published drawings and sculptures in the famous journal Méridiens, run by René Char.[12] However, the illustration that Rebull did for the magazine in April 1929, which we have recovered from the archives in Paris (fig. 10), is very different in execution to the abstract drawings attributed to this period. To my mind, Rebull began to experiment with volume, space and colour once back in Catalonia at a time very close to the Futurist serata he organised at the Bartrina Theatre in Reus in May 1929. The reports of that exalted performance indicate that Rebull produced automatic drawings on stage while intoning a series of very specific phrases concerning sculpture: “sculpture is a hole in space […] sculpture is a tree full of holes, etc.”[13] Most of his abstract drawings are too concise to have been improvised, while others are so swift that they could have been created during his performance (Circle, Straight Lines and Waves, 1930, cat. no. 21). In any case, they are all much more related and make far more sense if we see them in the context of the spatial experimentation that the artist was engaged in at that time.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it is regrettable that Rebull did not extend his avant-garde work into the terrain of sculpture. Had he done so, he would perhaps have rivalled contemporary sculptors, such as Henry Moore (1898-1986), who, after training in Paris at the same time between the World Wars – so they would have shared the same influences and friends – evolved in a similar manner and later towards a certain volumetric abstraction based on the technique of drawing (Moore’s shelter drawings date from 1941). Moore was brave when it came to applying to his monumental sculpture the discoveries concerning form that he made in his studies on paper. In contrast, Rebull was wedded to the figurative sculpture that straddled classical harmony and archaic expressiveness and with which he achieved excellent results until well into the early years after the Spanish Civil War, but which undoubtedly prevented him from attaining the international reputation his talent deserved.

Nevertheless, the drawings Rebull did before the Civil War resonated to a certain extent with the Spanish avant-garde circles, as demonstrated by the fact that the first monographic exhibition of the sculptor’s drawings was held in the summer of 1929 at La Galería in Madrid.[14] This unusual gallery space was a cultural centre that hosted avant-garde exhibitions – on “functional or skyscraper architecture” or “metal furniture”[15] – promoted by one of the more active modern art circles in the Iberian Peninsula in the inter-war years. This was the circle that surrounded La Gaceta Literaria, run by Giménez Caballero, the same gazette which had been the mouthpiece since its foundation in 1927 for the writers and artists of the Generation of ’27, including Dalí, Buñuel, Lorca and Alberti.

We do not know if it was by chance or intentional that Rebull’s art dealer – who, we should remember, represented his work commercially – organised a one-man show of his work in Barcelona in the winter of 1930, just a few months after the exhibition in Madrid. The exhibition at the Galeria Avinyó included 25 drawings and four paintings from Rebull’s time in Paris and, according to the list of works, Merli presented the artist’s intimate side and his more daring aspect. Interestingly, the Catalan critics reacted ambivalently to the exhibition. Joan Cortés was the first to review it in a piece published in D’Ací i d’Allà magazine, in which he was effusive in his praise, commenting on the artist’s “clear and penetrating” conception in the difficult art of creating works that are both “robust” and “insightful”, and on the diverse expressive devices that Rebull used in his drawings.[16] Josep Maria Junoy also lauded his figurative sketches, but was far more reticent concerning the paintings, which he said had been made “to recipes of the day before”.[17] Josep Maria de Sucre, in the weekly L’Opinió, approved of the sincerity of the drawings but considered that they fell short of the superlative quality of Rebull’s sculpture. He was especially critical of the paintings, which he dubbed “adolescent and whimsical”.[18] Lastly, in his column in La Veu de Catalunya, Rafael Benet stated the view that in Paris, “malice had taken over his talent” and that Rebull had become a “professional of deformity”, but that he did not deform through emotion but with “guile and premeditation”, in other words, “in the manner of Picasso”.[19] Overall, Benet and the other critics forgave the sculptor’s “vices of intelligence”, since most of them had championed and admired his sculptural work of the time and of his youth.

To my mind, just one critic was able to capture the complexity of Rebull’s selection of drawings and paintings, the prophetic Sebastià Gasch. In an article in Gaseta de les Arts, this Barcelona-born critic hailed the expressive and instinctive force of Rebull’s drawings, which distanced them even from the artist’s sculptural work, in which he had never managed entirely to free himself from his urge to construct. “Rebull’s line is a living line, a line that is most alive, dictated by intuition. A line that passes from the soul – which has intuited it – to the hand, which expresses it with difficulty, instilling it with that vital trembling that is exclusive to the great masters. These drawings by Rebull are extremely intense!”[20] Gasch demonstrates great powers of prediction since he was ahead of his times in his view of Rebull’s work. In the Catalan context of the period between the wars, there were few critics who were sufficiently open-minded to be able to discern the contributions of the international Avant-garde – that is to say, urge and instinct as the main forces for conveying artistic emotion – in the work of a figurative, post-noucentista sculptor such as Rebull. And there were still fewer critics capable of accepting artistic intuition in a lesser discipline such as drawing.

We do not know whether Rebull was affected by these criticisms by the Barcelona-based writers on art concerning his forays into drawing and painting, but the fact is that after 1930 we do not find such a prolific and accomplished output in the field of drawing as that which he produced in the period between 1927 and 1930. Even so, our impression is that Rebull did not have time to devote himself to artistic experimentation after 1930, as he was busy with numerous commissions for public monuments, as well as his commitments to politics and art education. In fact, the few drawings that have survived from the years leading up to the Civil War are connected with his public artworks or are directly linked to politics. One notable piece is his pen portrait of Lluís Companys (cat. no. 24), held in Montserrat Museum. We do not know the reasons why Rebull did a portrait of the Catalan politician – perhaps it was Companys’ appointment as president of the Catalan government, the Generalitat de Catalunya, in 1934 – but the sculptor’s interest in Catalan politics during the Second Republic may help to explain it. On 7 June 1931, he was elected to the Generalitat as a deputy for Vilanova i la Geltrú and was the ERC (Catalan Republican Left) representative in the realm of the arts. As a result, Rebull not only participated in the drafting of the 1931 Statute of Self-government (the Núria Statute), but was also busily involved in the arts, education and culture in Catalonia. He was a member of the Board of Museums – during the years when the Plandiura Collection was acquired and the Cau Ferrat was set up in Sitges – and in Tarragona he was appointed director of the Studio-School, a public school of art that was extremely modern in educational terms but which closed when the Civil War broke out.

Another drawing that demonstrates Rebull’s political commitment is a reclining nude that he did in 1931. According to our research, it is a study for the ill-fated plaque on Rambla Francesc Macià in Vilanova i la Geltrú (cat. no. 18), unveiled to mark Francesc Macià’s return to Catalonia in 1931. In effect, the silhouette of the female figure closely resembles a period photograph that has survived of the plaque, which was ultimately destroyed in 1939.[21] Nevertheless, a typewritten note found on the back of the frame says that the drawing in question belongs to the relief of the goddess Ceres to the side of the door of the Casal Sant Jordi in the Eixample district in Barcelona.[22] A comparison of the works reveals that the profiles are indeed the same. Curiously, during the course of our research, we came across another drawing (Woman Stretched out with Veil, cat. no. 25), which perhaps resembles the relief of Ceres even more closely.

In the mid-1930s, Rebull’s art had attained extraordinary heights, not only in terms of artistic quality but also social recognition. He had become a sculptor to whom all eyes turned in Catalonia. He was respected by every art critic in Barcelona and in 1938 he was awarded the Campeny Prize for sculpture for his piece Gypsy Woman. He received increasing numbers of public and private commissions (the St. George for the Tecla Sala residence in Barcelona, the relief at number 6 on Via Laietana, the tombs of Guerau de Liost and Joan Creixells, and the Good Shepherd on Montjuïc).

In his work not done to commission, he produced some of the finest series of Catalan modern sculpture, such as the splendid series of young children’s portraits that he did between 1930 and 1936. The Civil War, however, interrupted Rebull’s rise. A sombre ten years began. Far from his homeland, the sculptor fled from the fires of the Second World War and experienced the misery of exile in various places in France (Pontenx-les-Forges, L’Isle-Adam and Paris). In order to survive, he accepted commissions from Catalan friends who were refugees in Paris, such as Josep Tarradellas, Josep Maria Millàs-Raurell and Francesc Salsas,[23] as well as Pablo Picasso, who not only purchased a significant number of his sculptures – among them the portrait of Picasso’s daughter Maya, included in the exhibition (cat. sculpt. J) – but also introduced him into new circles of friends, intellectuals and businesspeople in the French capital. Evidence of this is to be found in the form of the promotional drawing that Rebull did for the Nina Ricci perfume house (fig. 16), one of the few drawings that has survived from the period of 1936 to 1948. The sculptor also designed some of the shop windows for the Theatre of Fashion in Paris, in 1945, and two years later designed the window display of the D.H. Evans store in London to mark the marriage of Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.

The Catalan writer Josep Palau i Fabre, Rebull’s companion during his period in exile in Paris, talks about the circumstances of the time. Palau i Fabre had arrived in Paris on a grant in 1945 and knew Rebull from the years before the Civil War. He was 18 years younger than the sculptor and in his writings he recalled both the pre-eminence of Rebull’s work in Republican Barcelona and the various meetings between his father, the decorator Josep Palau Oller and the sculptor.[24] Palau Oller was eleven years older than the sculptor, with whom he had struck up a friendship in Joan Merli’s gallery. Indeed, Palau Oller’s name appears on the list of the more than a hundred members of the so-called exposicions-tria (choose-exhibitions) organised by Joan Merli, an original gallery initiative in which members could, on a relatively regular basis, choose a work by various emerging Catalan artists. Most of these artists were members of the generation of 1917, and Rebull, together with Fenosa, Granyer and Viladomat, was one of its leading lights. Palau Oller acquired a relief (cat. sculpt. H) and two drawings at these exhibitions, works that are now part of the collection of the Fundació Palau.[25]

The relief dating from 1933 purchased by Palau Oller is of particular interest. Firstly, it is a unique piece produced at a time when Rebull usually made up to six terracotta copies of each model, as stipulated in his contract with Joan Merli. And secondly, Palau Oller inserted the small relief into the wall of his home in the Eixample district in Barcelona. The work was subsequently removed and taken to the foundation in Caldes d’Estrac. These contacts prior to the Civil War led Palau Oller to call on Rebull in his studio on Carrer Septimània in Barcelona, taking with him his then teenage son Palau i Fabre, who retained fond memories of these visits. Palau i Fabre’s recollections have proved extremely valuable, because we historians have been able to prove that, as legend had it, Rebull did indeed make Francesc Macià’s death mask, which was lost during the Civil War.

Palau i Fabre always showed considerable regard and respect for Rebull’s work. For a young intellectual in the post-war years, there was a powerful symbolic component in the art of the Second Republic. He admired the artists who had been able to express themselves freely in a golden era of nationalist revival in Catalonia. They represented the now extinguished values of peace, justice and harmony which, in addition, they continued to champion through their art despite all the adversities. Palau i Fabre purchased two drawings (cat. no. 17)[26] by Rebull, which he included as an illustration in the clandestine journal Poesia, which he edited between 1944 and 1945. We have also found a typewritten piece by Palau concerning Rebull’s sculpture which in all likelihood was commissioned by Joan Merli for the Catalunya magazine published in Buenos Aires. In his piece, “Joan Rebull, home-escultura” (“Joan Rebull, man-sculpture”), which we reproduce in full in this catalogue, Palau captures in a few words the distinctive features of Rebull’s work. We are left with the idea of the sculptor as a woodworm, obsessively eating voids into his material.

Despite the exemplary nature of Rebull’s art in exile, and despite the fact that he was relatively well known in circles close to Picasso, his art never found its rightful place in France. Window displays and fashion were not among his artistic aspirations. He soon came to realise that the spirit of his sculptural work only resonated in his homeland, in direct contact with the textures and the lie of the land and the particular characteristics of its people. As he grew older, Rebull took refuge in pursuing his classical work, as Eugeni d’Ors would have understood it. He became more interested in the volumetric purification of human forms and in producing larger pieces than in unilateral and strident experimentation. The drawings we have been able to recover, produced after his return to Catalonia in 1948, provide evidence of his state of mind. In this new period, we can distinguish between two major areas of work in his drawing: his studies for public sculpture and his sketches for his private sculpture.

Rebull was much in demand as a sculptor in his homeland during the Franco dictatorship. After a period of destruction and uncertainty, many institutions in the country decided that they needed new symbols that would represent them. In Catalonia, they found in Rebull’s art works that exuded, in form and in spirit, the essence of the land. In this exhibition, it is our wish to single out some of the dozens of studies that have survived of the monuments that Rebull did in Reus, Blanes, Tarragona, Barcelona, Igualada and Sant Feliu de Guíxols. We begin with Montserrat, since, as the artist himself said, his return to Catalonia in 1948 was due in large part to the important commissions he received from Abbot Escarré for the abbey. We were particularly pleased to be able to include in the exhibition one of the drawings – the sketch of the relief The Death of St. Benedict for the abbey’s façade (cat. no. 39) – that attest to a collaborative relationship that spanned almost three decades from the sarcophagus of Abbot Marcet (1948) to the monument to Pau Casals (1976). The Death of St. Benedict is one of the three reliefs that Rebull sculpted for the façade of Montserrat Abbey, a commission that took him more than ten years to complete, and which he showed for the first time in his solo exhibition at the Sala Parés in 1960.

The city for which Rebull made most public commissions was Reus, his birthplace. The first piece he did was The Shepherdess, a monument unveiled in 1953 that glorifies the holy visionary Isabel Basora. He won the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the First Hispano-American Art Biennial for this piece. Both the preparatory drawing for this piece by the sculptor (cat. no. 29) and its male counterpart (Shepherd, 1951, cat. no. 28) are more than merely sketches. To produce them, Rebull revived the technique of white lead and ink on paper, which had given good results in his drawings prior to the war. In addition, he used his second wife, Conxa Farré i Garí, with her archaic and penetrating gaze, as his model. Indeed in the years immediately after his return from exile, Rebull briefly cultivated a hieratic style that harked back to the past, an “expressively Iberian” style, as Alexandre Cirici i Pellicer aptly describes it. We find this intensity of the face in other drawings from the same period, such as his portrait of his daughter Elvira (cat. no. 30). However, the monuments that he produced later for Reus (the Easter Week float entitled The Denial of St. Peter [1958] and Triptolemus [1968]) show that the path chosen by the sculptor in later years was vernacular classicism. All in all, it is interesting to note that the preparatory studies for the two monuments contain an expressive freedom that is very different to the final classical resolution of the monuments (cat. nos. 40-41). Of the many studies and drawings that Rebull did of monuments during those years, we have selected those that stand out for their originality and artistic force.

Alongside his public monuments, Rebull took up new challenges in his private sculptural work, as demonstrated by the large number of preparatory drawings in which he studies three classic positions: the reclining nude (cat. nos. 33, 36), the sitting nude (cat. nos. 34-35) and the standing figure (cat. 32). These drawing are an extremely valuable legacy that enables us to understand the renewal of classicism that Rebull set out to achieve, without concessions, in the last years of his life. He concentrated on a few human positions, restricting himself to the most perennial and universal variants of bodily torsion and applying them in pure volumetric units. In this way, he bore out that famous maxim of his: “I consult nature, but never to imitate its accidents”.[27] In some instances, the figures are more restrainedly structural; in others they are freer, revealing the sculptor’s more sensitive and instinctive side (cat. nos. 31, 37, 38). To this noble end, the sculptor carefully studied the human positions most commonly found in ancient sculpture (we have evidence of his interest in the high reliefs of the Parthenon and the sarcophagus of Hippolytus in Tarragona), as well as modern sculpture (Matisse and Picasso). He would trace their structure, subjecting the figure to an intelligent process of volumetric distillation and lastly he would sculpt models in plaster, which he would then make various copies of for each of the positions. These copies would be made in the four materials he prized most highly, marble, stone from Ulldecona, wood and bronze.

Of the various versions of the reclining nude that Rebull did, we wish to draw attention to the print entitled Recumbent Nude (cat. no. 36), held in the national Library of Catalonia. The epigraph appended to the work suggests that the artist made the print to mark the return of the sculpture Reclining Woman to the home of its owner, the writer Francesc Recasens from Reus, following its inclusion in the First Hispano-American Art Biennial held in Barcelona in the spring of 1952. The print is accompanied by an extraordinary poem by Tomàs Garcés, who was of the same generation as the artist. His words give us insight into the admiration that spectators of the time felt for Recumbent Nude. Rebull reflected deeply on space and the body in order to create this work. He found the position of the female body that required the least amount of sculptural material in order that it might be introduced into a rectangle. According to Cirici i Pellicer, this new position represented a “complex and hitherto unknown way of playing with the surrounding space”.[28] He made the first large-format version of Recumbent Nude – he had experimented with the small format during his first trip to Paris – during his exile in Paris for a piece commissioned by his friend Josep Maria Millàs-Raurell, a work that we are honoured to be able to show in this exhibition (cat. sculpt. I).

This exhibition should be regarded as one of the various initiatives undertaken in recent times to revive the memory of an artist acknowledged by Cirici i Pellicer as “the finest Catalan sculptor since Aristide Maillol”. The continuing interest in Rebull’s work among new generations of historians, collectors and museum directors in Catalonia and elsewhere in the Iberian Peninsula demonstrates that Cirici i Pellicer’s assessment remains valid. Due to the vicissitudes suffered by Rebull’s work over the course of the 20th century, a time of considerable upheaval, each new venture that seeks to raise awareness of his work brings to light further material of great value as both art and heritage. The initiative we present here is a further example of this. We have rediscovered Joan Rebull the draughtsman and printmaker and his capacity to transpose the artistic presence of his sculpture into other disciplines that have so often been underrated by history. Rebull’s drawings are imbued with those qualities that are so difficult to find in an artist but which every universal creator has: humility when it comes to aspiring to create masterpieces, in terms of both the technical resources used – pencil, paper and ink – and his attention to and respect for Antiquity; and bravery in standing on the shoulders of the great men who had gone before and in forthrightly asserting the most profound urgings of his own personality. The lesson to be learned from this intimate cabinet of drawings by Rebull seems to us to be clear: great art shuns grandiloquence; all it requires is a small space into which to pour, naturally, a sincere vital impulse. Only in this way can the volume tremble with life and, with dread, rest in eternity.


[1] Shortly after the 1982 Rebull exhibition at the Palau de la Virreina cultural centre closed, all trace was lost of most of the more than 70 drawings that were part of the show.

[2] José Corredor-Matheos and Albert Mercadé: Joan Rebull. Catálogo razonado de esculturas. Madrid: Fundación Arte y Mecenazgo, 2010. While this catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work was being edited, three important portfolios of Rebull’s drawings came to light. The first, found in a collection belonging to Rebull’s descendents, includes a large collection of academic drawings and sketches for sculptural projects. Some of these are displayed in this exhibition for the first time. The second portfolio contains drawings from before the Civil War from the Joan Merli Collection (N.S. Collection, Reus / Gil Aluja Collection, Barcelona). This is not the complete collection of drawings owned by the Catalan art dealer and critic, since it was dispersed following his death, but it represents a substantial part of it. To these two we must add the portfolio found in the collection of Carme Francolí (private collection, Reus), the piano teacher of one of Rebull’s daughters. There was knowledge of part of the collection, which was published in the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition Joan Rebull, cent anys: obres clau, treballs inèdits. Reus: Fundació Reddis, 1999.

[3] We refer to the work of the three historians who, over the last 20 years, have devoted themselves to studying and raising awareness of Rebull’s work: José Corredor-Matheos, author of the first monograph on the artist (L’escultura de Joan Rebull, Barcelona: Àmbit, 1991); Assumpta Rosés, curator of the last major retrospective exhibition of Rebull’s work held in Catalonia (Joan Rebull: escultor, 1899-1981, Barcelona: La Caixa, 1999); and Joan Abelló, who included some of the lost drawings from the former Joan Merli Collection in the exhibition he curated at the MNCARS in Madrid (Joan Rebull, años 20 y 30, 2005).

[4] Rebull, Barcelona: Galeria Avinyó, 1930. Cited by Joan Merli in Rebull. Barcelona: La Virreina, 1982, p. 15.

[5] Josep Palau i Fabre remembers that a “revolutionary” exhibition consisting solely of drawings was held in 1896 at the Sala Parés in Barcelona. Josep Palau i Fabre: Picasso i els seus amics Catalans. Barcelona: Galàxia Gutenberg; Cercle de Lectors, 2006, pp. 29-30.

[6] We recommend reading Rodin’s reflections on the art of drawing, included in the compilation of the artist’s thoughts El arte. Auguste Rodin. Entrevistas recopiladas por Paul Gsell. Madrid: Editorial Síntesis, 2000.

[7] For further information concerning the teaching of drawing during Noucentisme, we recommend Mercè Doñate’s essay on Francesc Labarta (Cahiers Fenosa, no. 3, Fundació Apel·les Fenosa, El Vendrell); and on Francesc Galí, we suggest Albert Mercadé: “Jaume Mercadé. El dibuix essencial” in Jaume Mercadé. Joies i dibuixos. El Vendrell: Fundació Apel·les Fenosa, 2009.

[8] For further information concerning the relationship between sculpture and drawing in Henry Moore’s work, we recommend Philip James: Henry Moore on Sculpture. London: Macdonald, 1966.

[9] Of the few drawings that have survived from this initial period in Barcelona, we single out Motherhood (fig. 2, 1920, private collection, Paris) and Mother and Baby (fig. 3, 1920, private collection).

[10] The sculpture Reclining Nude from 1928 (cat. sculpt. D) seems to us to be clear Matissean acrobatics. This is the first version of a sculptural posture that Rebull was to return to throughout his artistic career. In the catalogue raisonné of his sculptures, we suggested that it was highly feasible that he would have become familiar with Matisse’s art in Paris in the years between the World Wars, given the many exhibitions held of the great French master’s artworks, as well as the prominence of his work in art journals of the time, such as Cahiers d’Art.

[11] Joan Abelló, op. cit. p. 37.

[12] A drawing by Rebull was published to illustrate Cayatte’s piece entitled “Recensement du Paradis” (Méridiens, no. 1, 1 April 1929) and a photograph of his sculptural portrait of Cayatte appeared in the second of the three issues that were published of the journal run by René Char.

[13] These sayings were published in Les Arts Catalanes, year II, no. 8, Barcelona, May 1929.

[14] Joan Chabás: “Joan Rebull en La Galería de Madrid”, La Gaceta Literaria, no. 60, Madrid, 15 June 1929.

[15] Ernesto Giménez Caballero: Memorias de un dictador. Barcelona: Planeta, 1979, p. 66.

[16] Joan Cortés: “Dibuixos de Joan Rebull”, D’Ací i d’Allà, June 1929, no. 138, vol. XVIII, pp. 210-211.

[17] Josep Maria Junoy: “Pintures i dibuixos de Joan Rebull”, L’actualitat artística. Barcelona: Llibreria Catalònia, 1931.

[18] Josep Maria de Sucre: “Galeries Avinyó”, L’Opinió, 12 December 1930.

[19] Rafael Benet: “Pintures i dibuixos de l’escultor Rebull a la Galeria Avinyó”, La Veu de Catalunya, 5 December 1930.

[20] Sebastià Gasch: “Dibuixos de Rebull”, Gaseta de les Arts, April 1929.

[21] Photograph published in Mirador, 10 December 1931. The marble relief was unveiled on 29 November 1931 and destroyed in 1939 when the Rambla was renamed Rambla del Caudillo. We are grateful to the historian Esther Alsina for this information.

[22] See piece no. 71 in the catalogue raisonné of Rebull’s sculptures.

[23] Josep Tarradellas (cat. raisonné no. 197), Josep Maria Millàs-Raurell (cat. raisonné no. 204), Francesc Salsas (cat. raisonné no. 223).

[24] Josep Palau i Fabre: Joan Rebull a través del tiempo. Joan Abelló, (2003: 135-138), op. cit.

[25] Cat. nos. 282 and 283 of the general catalogue of the Fundació Palau, Caldes d’Estrac.

[26] Cat. nos. 280, 281 and 284 of the general catalogue of the Fundació Palau, Caldes d’Estrac. Three Nude Women appeared in issue 4 of Poema magazine in 1944, while Woman with Raised Left Arm appeared in issue 7 that same year.

[27] Rafael Manzano: “Rebull, el escultor que le ha devuelto los ojos a las estatuas”. Solidaridad Nacional, Barcelona, 27 November 1951.

[28] Alexandre Cirici i Pellicer: “Rebull”. Voy, year I, no. 7, Barcelona, 18 March 1952.

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