The Trailblazing Career of Spanish Baroque Sculptor Luisa Roldán
“She was not afraid. She wasn’t daunted. I think that’s one of the key differentiators about her and her career.”
Sculptor Luisa Roldán (1652–1706) followed a rare path for women in 17th-century Spain. Like other female artists, she trained and worked in the studio of a male family member, in this case her father. After marrying at 19, she established herself as an independent artist. This set her apart from most other women of her day, who stopped making art when they started families of their own. Roldán, working alongside her husband and brother-in-law, specialized in large painted wooden sculptures, terracotta groups, and reliefs. Overcoming societal limitations, Roldán took risks, worked for the Spanish kings, and was widely recognized as an accomplished artist during her lifetime.
In this episode, author Catherine Hall-van den Elsen discusses her new book Luisa Roldán, the first in the new Getty Publications series Illuminating Women Artists. Hall-van den Elsen explores Roldán’s personal challenges, career trajectory, and her most penetrating Baroque works, placing them in their historical context.
The Recovery and Conservation of a Stolen de Kooning
“We hear the security guards talking to one another on the walkie-talkie, saying that there’s a man on the line saying that he has a stolen painting. And I wish somebody could’ve seen us, because we just stopped our conversation and Jill’s eyes got big, and she said, ‘Oh, my gosh, are we gonna remember this moment for the rest of our lives.’”
On the day after Thanksgiving in 1985, two thieves casually entered the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA). They strolled out minutes later with Willem de Kooning’s painting Woman-Ochre. Without security cameras or solid leads, the trail to find the stolen painting quickly went cold. In 2017, however, the artwork turned up in an unlikely place: a small antique shop in Silver City, New Mexico. After more than 30 years, the work was finally returned to the UAMA, but it was badly damaged, due to the way it was torn from its frame during the heist and how it was subsequently stored and handled. The UAMA turned to the Getty Museum and Conservation Institute to help conserve the painting.
In this episode, UAMA curator of exhibitions Olivia Miller and Getty Museum senior conservator of paintings Ulrich Birkmaier discuss Woman-Ochre’s theft, recovery, and conservation, as well as its place in de Kooning’s oeuvre and the UAMA’s collection. The treatment is still in progress, and the restored artwork is scheduled to be on view at the Getty Center from June 7 to August 28, 2022.