Claus Havemann
My paintings of Velazquez ”Las Meninas”
The interpretation of existing art-works is hardly a new phenomenon. Artists have always wanted to learn from the old masters yet allow their own creativity to come through in response.
I chose the painting "Las Meninas" by Velazques as a subject. It is in my opinion, one of the greatest paintings ever produced. Pablo Picasso's over fifty interpretations of it and Francis Bacon's portraits of Pope Innocent the Tenth confirm to me, the reverence held by those 'modern' masters for the Spanish painter.
After several years of contemplation, I went to Madrid to view the original in an attempt to place color and detail into my own minds 'eye'. The original currently hangs in the Prado Museum and measures 321x281 cm. I then began a painting which subsequently took on a life of it’s own.
One intention became five works.
The first, measures 215x184 cm, and is close to the original although I place three other artists in the painting. Picasso, Miro and Francis Bacon. "A painting by Picasso is in my version placed on the back wall next to one by Miro and one of Picassos sculptures is painted in the mirror next to queen Mariana, replacing King Phillip IV.In the right hand side of the original stands Don Jose Niento, I have turned him into a sculpture by Miro. To the left Velazquez stands palate in hand, working on a very large painting. The viewer sees only the back of this “painting”.
I have added a version of Francis Bacons Pope Innocent X.- Francis Bacon himself only ever painted on the reverse of his canvas."

The second interpretation is a freer expression of the same motif but with the color space much changed.
Two of my own paintings are placed on the back wall and I have given each of the figures an “ Aura”.The third, stems from one of Picasso’s interpretations in black and white. I changed the format and the detailing and added my own palate.
The fourth is reversed.....Velazquez has now become a portrait of myself and the paintings on the back wall are interpretations of L.A Rings “ Sommerdag Ved Roskilde fjord ” by the Danish artist Anders Kierkegaard. The last returns to my starting point. I use a strict structure but free brushstrokes.

I have also painted two 'over sized' portraits, which are to hang beside one another. Pope Innocent the Tenth ( Original: Apsley House, London ) and the dwarf Maribarbola from Las Meninas. They are meant as my 'King and Queen' portrait and represent two extremes.

All paintings are oil on canvas and were completed in the summer of 2009.

See the paintings in the gallery of Interpretations ("New Window")

(Look for details by "click" on each painting - opens in "New Windows")

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