The Positivism of Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla (1863 – 1923) was Spain's premiere impressionist artist. A master painter from Valencia, Sorolla won many artistic  prizes and was adored the world over. In his youth, he was idealistic and like a modern pop star, his powerful paintings served to bring a social conscious to the fine arts world and beyond.

Sorolla paintings are built upon scientific knowledge and based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all certain knowledge. Sorolla's positivism held that valid knowledge (certitude or truth) was found only in empirical evidence.

Sorolla chose to explored many social, historical, literary and religious themes in his paintings. The popularity of his paintings reached in the salons and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago. His greatest legacy is a series of monumental murals that proudly portrait his patriotism  to his beloved Spain, which are found at the Hispanic Society building in New York.

What many people do not know is that Sorolla and his family made their summer vacations in Javea. Many of the most intimate paintings by Sorolla's collection of works, explore the pleasures of Javea’s seaside resort.


Dd"I really enjoy the in depth view about the life and times of the artist Sorolla. All aspects of this presentation from his life and times to the information about Spanish history around each of the times of a particular period of his artwork was fascinating. But more importantly to not is how much knowledge Karla passes on to her 'students' . The presentations are really fun and the time goes too fast!!! I always recommend her lectures, her knowledge and enthusiasm."

 * Janis Turner

"I learned about a painter that I had no knowledge of, from his formative years right through to his death, through the styles and painters that influenced him as his work developed. The paintings were the star of the show. Very inspiring work, especially his use and rendering of light. Beautiful. I enjoyed Karla's informality and organisation and I would recommend her to friend."

 * Debra Cazalet, Pego ***



Tristana is a 1970 Spanish film directed by Luis Buñuel (1900 – 1983). Based on the eponymous novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, it stars Catherine Deneuve and Fernando Rey and was shot in Toledo, Spain.

The story is set in the late 1920s to early 1930s. Tristana is an orphan adopted by nobleman don Lope Garrido. Don Lope falls in love with her and thus treats her as wife as well as daughter from the age of 19. But, by age 21 Tristana starts finding her voice, to demand to study music, art and other subjects with which she wishes to become independent. She meets the young artist Horacio Díaz, falls in love, and eventually leaves Toledo to live with him. When she falls ill, she returns to don Lope.

Buñuel wanted Tristana to be his triumphant return to Spain after living exiled in Mexico for several decades. Buñuel travelled to Spain in the spring of 1969 to begin work on the film, and was immediately sidetracked by the Spanish censors. Spain's Franco government made it difficult for Buñuel to get his films approved, but it finally was allowed.


Benito Pérez Galdós (1843 – 1920) was a Spanish realist novelist, considered second only to Cervantes in stature as a Spanish novelist. He was the leading literary figure in 19th century Spain.

Galdós is critical of the Catholic Church as a dominant force in Spanish cultural life. He attacked what he saw as abuses of entrenched and dogmatic religious power rather than religious faith or Christianity per se. In fact, the need for faith is a very important feature in many of his novels and there are many sympathetic portraits of priests and nuns.

Benito Pérez Galdós BY Joaquín Sorolla




Remedio Varo was a Spanish-Mexican surrealist artist who challenged the male stereotypes of women in art, used only as models and objects, and created her own narrative that was very much "woman" in "subjective" visual arts poetry and she was only one of a very few women of the moment who did this!

Born in Girona, Spain in 1908, she studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid with Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel  and Garcia Lorca. 

During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was greatly influenced by the surrealist movement.

She met her second husband, the French surrealist poet Benjamin Péret, in Barcelona. She was forced into exile from Paris during the German occupation of France and moved to Mexico City at the end of 1941.

She died in 1963, at the height of her career, from a heart attack, in Mexico City.


Frida Kahlo made herself famous by challenging the objective world of realist art and looked into her own face to find a subject and truly unique form of representational art.

Daunted by the cruelty of illness and personal tragedy, she chose to overcome defeat and she pursuits positivism and revolution that led to a body of artwork, which span over her 30-year career.

All of her artworks demonstrated a fierce sense of pride in her heritage that flew in the face of traditional European art school movements.

She also had a very real, if not obsessive, passion for her marriage and husband who didn't follow the bourgeois and Catholic traditions monogamous relationships yet he loved her and cared for her to the end of her life.

Frida was an artist who truly understood the spirit of the human condition and its ability to rise above pain, suffering and disappointment in order to participate in the precious essence of life. 

This lecture and slideshow presentation will not only explore the dynamics of early 20th century European and Mexican art, it will enhance the life of Frida Kahlo and her artworks as gifts of expressive, visionary self-interpretations.