Goya’s grotesqueries, Miró’s primary-coloured prints, Picasso’s fragmented females… There is no doubt that Spain has a rich and diverse art history, with numerous artists still recognised across the globe today. However, fame is not necessarily achieved through the creation of serious masterpieces, and, as we are about to see, many eminent painters from the Iberian peninsular are responsible for some of the funniest Spanish paintings to exist!
So, before hastily proclaiming that Spanish paintings are not for you, here are a few funny modernist curiosities that are bound to pique your interest and get you giggling.
Without any further ado, let’s take a look at the top 5 funniest Spanish paintings…
Beigneuse [Bather], Salvador Dalí, 1928
Image taken from WahooArt.com
This lovely lady was painted by the renowned Catalan artist Dalí. I know what you’re thinking… “There´s definitely something funny going on with her…”
She is amusing as soon as one lays eyes upon her due to the fact that, throughout European art history, the trope of the female nude has typically been designed to appear as alluring as possible – according to classical standards of beauty – to entice the male spectator and serve as a passive canvas onto which he may project his sexual fantasies.
Here, on the contrary, he is presented with a surreal, amorphous figure, whose traditionally attractive body parts have either shrivelled up or become wildly inflated.
The pun in the title even reflects the woman’s globular stature: “female bather”, usually spelt “baigneuse” in French, takes on a new vowel in order to resemble the word for “doughnut”, “beignet”. Despite seeming to be one of the funniest Spanish paintings, it might serve an important purpose… Was Dalí attempting to inhibit the objectifying male gaze? Food for thought.
Vampiros vegetarianos [Vegetarian Vampires],
Remedios Varo, 1962
Image taken from remedios-varo.com
Next up in the top 5 funniest Spanish paintings, we have a much later surrealist work by female Spanish-Mexican artist Varo.
Although Surrealism is usually associated with dark and disturbing imagery, supposedly summoned from deep within the subconscious, Varo’s painting retains a ludic quality due to the paradoxical nature of the protagonists.
They lack the one quality that would define them as vampires: they do not drink blood.
Instead, in a comic yet civilised manner, they sip on the juice of an assortment of blood-red fruits, flowers and vegetables. Such thoughtful creatures.
Brigitte Bardot, Antonio Saura, 1959
Image taken from march.es
Abstract Expressionism emerged out of the USA around the end of the Second World War – towards the end of the Spanish surrealist period – and its influence is clearly exhibited in this peculiar painting by Saura.
The movement is typically characterised by “action painting”: the substitution of intricately-applied brushstrokes for the more haphazard dripping or splashing of paint directly onto the canvas.
Saura’s silly portrait cannot be described as fully abstract, however, as a mechanical, snarling figure can be discerned among the monochromatic spatters.
Albeit a great honour to be chosen as muse, one is left dubious as to whether the 60s bombshell Brigitte Bardot would have found this act of homage so hilarious… Definitely takes the cake for being the funniest painting of her to exist!
La salita [The Little Room],
Equipo Crónica, 1970
Image taken from pinterest.at
The originally serious atmosphere quickly dissipates with the injection of colourful anachronisms, such as the inflatable football or rubber ring, producing a risibly kitsch reinterpretation. Various mockeries have been made of Las meninas but this painting is no doubt the silliest!
The blatant usurpation of an iconic Golden Age painting may have been intended to imitate the obsession of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco (in power from 1939 to 1975) with what he considered the noble ideals and talent of the past, ridiculing the way in which he strove to impose this supposed former national glory onto the rapidly modernising 20th-century society.
Aparición de Franco ante el Sagrado Corazon, [Franco’s Apparition Before
The Sacred Heart],
Image taken from pinterest.es
And finally, here is the Generalísimo himself, represented by the artistic duo Costus (partners Juan Carrero and Enrique Naya) during the counter-cultural phenomenon of the 70s/80s Madrid Scene.
With its attention-grabbing, psychedelic colours, the artwork contrasts greatly with the dictator’s official portrait paintings and may be interpreted as a purposefully pompous parody of Franco’s self-image.
In camp, Neo-Baroque style, Costus dares to depict the dictator floating on a beautiful white horse above Jesus Christ, as if he were the true Lord and Saviour.
Considering Franco’s brutal authoritarian regime, the implication that he identifies with, or even claims, to surpass the divinity of the all-loving, all-forgiving son of God certainly begs laughter at the very least.
So there are our top 5 silliest Spanish paintings, handpicked from the hilariously weird and wonderful repertoire of Spanish art!
Appetite not satiated by Spanish absurdity? Check out the funniest paintings from all over the world here.
Want to learn more about funny aspects of Spanish culture? Read about some silly Spanish traditional festivals here.
Let us know in the comments section which painting you think is the funniest or name another silly piece for us to see!