Joaquim Sunyer

Sitges 1874 - 1956

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Joaquim Sunyer studied art at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, where he coincided with artists such as Isidre Nonell or Joaquin Mir. In 1896 he decided to travel to Paris, where he spent a few years of precarious life living out of what his works allowed him to do. From these years, we have works such as La blanchisseuse du quartier du Belleville of 1900. Sunyer had settled in Paris between 1896 and 1910 and from the early years of the 20th century on, he began to work with different artists such as Picasso, Manolo Hugué, Max Jacob, among others. His works in Paris will be marked by worldly aspects: dances, café-concert, horse races, and on the promenades, mainly the Moulin Rouge. In 1910 a large exhibition of Sunyer will be organized in the Barbazanges gallery, and a year later it will be exhibited at the Galeria Faianç in Barcelona, where it will establish itself as one of the representatives of the Catalan noucentisme. He knew Cézanne’s work through his friendship with Gustave Geffroy, showing the public his Cézannism in the individual exhibition he presented in the avant-garde gallery of the Faianç Català in Barcelona in 1911, with a prologue by Leon Bazalguette in French and by Miquel Utrillo in the catalogue. This exhibition with 60 works was the definitive consecration of Joaquim Sunyer in his most noucentist and Mediterranean facet. In the early years of Sunyer in Paris, the most used techniques in his works were the engravings and the pastel, for economic reasons. From 1900, the artist acquired greater security in the technique of the pastel, which allowed him to carry out works of greater importance. At the beginning of the First World War, it will be established in Sitges. He travelled to Paris in 1924 to exhibit at the Salon d’Automne. The following years, he will continue to exhibit in different galleries such as in the Sala Parés of Barcelona in 1930, in the Syra galleries and in the Carnegie Institute of Pittsbugh, in 1934. The Spanish Civil War will force him to move to Provençal and Italian lands, and then in 1937 he will move to Paris until 1942, when he returned to Barcelona and continued to expose regularly, as well as in Madrid. He will be awarded various honorary awards such as the Legion of Honor in 1949, or the life and work award at the Hispano-American Biennale of Havana, in 1954. His work was gradually evolving towards simplicity regardless of the techniques, both in landscapes and in his well-known female nudes, or in the portraits. He was also an exponent in works with representations of Mediterranean natural hedonism, in which the influence of artists such as Matisse and his work La joie de vivre, of 1905-1906, is seen.