Juana Francés

Alicante, 1924- Madrid, 1990

She studied in the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid.

After her first stage, characterized by geometric figures, hieratic, and loaded with symbolism, in the middle of the 50s she submerged into the world of abstract painting and of informalism.

In February 1957, she founded the group called “El Paso”, together with the critic José Ayllón and the artists Raphael Canogar, Luís Feito, Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera, Antonio Saura, Pablo Serrano and Antonio Suárez.

The artist consolidated her informalist stage between 1957 and 1962. In the works of this period, she combined sand with the pigments from other materials in order to obtain dense textures which gave a certain dimensionality to the picture. The subtle volume is seen to be emphasized by the light emanating from the overlapping of colour blotches on an austere palette, and also by the gilded tones of the earth. The compositions are free and dynamic, with energetic impulsive strokes, half way between the Graphism of Franz Kline and the Tachism of Hans Hartung – two of his principal sources of inspiration.

Francés herself explained that in order to execute these such expressive pieces: “Regularly I used thick brushes; I did the impressions with large spatulas. Also, I used hand thrown watering, mainly to move sands; this consisted of throwing the water with or without colour, onto the textures. On occasions, she sprinkled the sands on a base of acrylic glue which she then modified with a brush, at the same time with rhythmic brush strokes.”

The material informalism of Juana Francés presented a purity which was radical, and which did not go unnoticed by the critics of the time. And it is that the rejection of all iconic reference and the concentration on the most extreme feeling of the painting convert her pictures (and “Dog’s Head” is a paradigmatic example) in radically indescribable presences; presences which continue questioning us today, in spite of the fact that more than half a century has gone by since they were done.

Juana Francés was known in Spain, but also abroad. On the international scene, we should remember her participation if different editions of the Biennial in Venice (1954, 1960 and 1964), and in the show “Before Picasso”; “After Miró” in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1960, and the “Modern Spanish Painting”, shown at the Tate Gallery London in 1962.

Exhibited Works

  • “Cap de gos”, mixed technique on canvas, 1961.