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El Toreador

Bullfighting, also known as¬†tauromachia¬†¬†is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France, India, and some Latin American countries (Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru)¬†in which one or more¬†bulls are baited, and then slaughtered in a¬†bullring¬†for sport and entertainment. Whereas the popularity of this sport has fallen in the past few hundred years, it is still regarded as a “fine art” by some (and a bloodsport by others). Per usual, traditional, culture, and sport are mired in controversy.

(Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 )

Whatever one’s stance on the activity may be, it still cannot be argued that the¬†professional¬†toreros¬†(also called “matadors”) and the bullring has captured the imagination of many artists throughout the years. The colors, the speed, and the marvel of a show create a vignette in which humanity and mortality are often on display. ¬†I have never been to a bullfight, nor do I really condone the practice – but in the end it is not my religions, culture, or history. So much of this world is based on attempting to understand the importance ¬†and significance of another people’s past.¬†Rather than a competitive sport, the bullfight is more of a ritual which is judged by¬†aficionados¬†(bullfighting fans) based on artistic flourishes and a man’s command of animal. Ernest Hemingway said of it in his 1932 non-fiction book¬†Death in the Afternoon: “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.”

Edouard Manet¬†,¬†Mlle. Victorine in the Costume of a Matador,¬†Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1862 – (An early instance of cross dressing and “passing” in art, Manet purposely includes a pink sash and a reprint of Goya’s bull’s behind Victorine.)

SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 14, 2007,¬†CONTEMPORARY ART,¬†FRANCIS BACON, 1909-1992, STUDY FOR BULLFIGHT NO. 1, 2ND VERSION , signed, titled, and dated 1969 on the reverse , oil on canvas , 78¬ĺ x 58? in. 200 x 147.7 cm.

VILLEGAS CORDERO, Jos√© (Sevilla, 1844 – Madrid, 1921),¬†La muerte del maestro,¬†√ďleo sobre Lienzo,¬†330 x 505 cm.,¬†h. 1884, Image via Museo Bellas Artes de Sevilla

“Bullfight #5”¬†by¬†Salvador Dali
P.P. Konchalovsky, Bullfight. 1910

 Pablo Picasso, Bullfight, the death of the torero (Course de taureaux Рla mort du torero)

Rene Daniels, Painting on the Bullfight, 1985, Photo by Peter Cox, Image found HERE (The colors and quickness of the bullfight reduced to abstraction!)

Jacqueline Kennedy, her hostess the Duchess of Alba, and the Countess of Romanones attend a bullfight in Seville, 1966, Image found HERE.

Magazine:¬†Harper’s Bazaar Singapore,¬†Issue:¬†March 2012,¬†Editorial:¬†Before Night Falls,¬†Model: Wang Xiao |Wilhelmina|,¬†Stylist:¬†Kenneth Goh¬†|United Management|,¬†Photographer:¬†Simon Upton, Image found HERE.

Kiss of the Matador, Vogue Japan, Image found HERE.

Oscar de la Renta is inspired by Cubism and Matadors in this collection, found HERE. 

Emilio Pucci 2012 matador skirt, HERE.

Bullfighting traces its roots to prehistoric¬†bull worship¬†and¬†sacrifice. The killing of the sacred bull was a central iconic act of¬†Mithras, which was commemorated in the¬†mithraeum¬†wherever Roman soldiers were stationed. There are even cave paintings depicting man fighting and killing bulls in Spain. It is thought that romans first popularized the sport of bullfighting as a sort of circus act in the stadiums. Often animals would be placed in the ring alongside gladiators. The footwork, rules, pomp, and circumstance of each fight greatly change based on geography and culture (e.g. Mexican bullfights greatly differ from Portuguese, Oman – Arabic, and¬†Indian style ‚Äď Jallikattu bullfighting).

Image of Emily and Andrew De Stefano’s home via DesignSponge, HERE.¬†

Image of Erin Austen Abbott and Sean Kirkpatrick’s home via DesignSponge, HERE. (All thrift store finds in this photo. Mississippi is not short of places to find deals.)

Painting by Anthony Fry, Image found HERE.

The matador photograph becomes the central focus and color scheme of this room, found HERE.

¬†Sylvie Rochon’s colourful Mid Century Modern home complete with a matador pillow! Image found HERE.

HOW CAN I LIVE IN A SPANISH BULLRING?

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

 

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Keren Veisblatt Toledano is a Senior Strategist at Brooklyn United, a digital agency for bold brands. In her spare time, Keren can usually be found taking photos of old doors, visiting museum, soaking in Epsom salts, admiring copper pots, reading dystopian science fiction or sneaking a slice of lemon into her drinks. Her motto is, ‚ÄúA morning without coffee is sleep.‚ÄĚ She lives in a brownstone with her cat, Cagney, husband, Michael, and son, Josiah, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NY.

9 Comments

    • Thank you so much! Compliments like these keep me going! Please share and forward the blog with friends! Best – K.

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    • Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for stopping by. If you ever want to collaborate on posts, or even visit NYC, feel free to contact me! I have been following your blog for a while and even feel a bit starstruck that you’ve stopped by to compliment me! Feel free to spread my posts with friends (I am trying to get bit more of a following, fingers crossed!). Best – KV

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  1. Commendable post!Lovely colors…Althought i do agree that it’s quite painful to see poor bulls bleed to death.It is a custom so i don’t wanna offend anybody,but this custom needs serious re-considerations…

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    • Yes, many organization exist in Spain and all around Europe that are against the torture of bulls. A place in Japan has gone as far as reenacting an entire bullfight with men dressed as the bulls – making the fight a puppet show and entertainment event rather than its bloody counterpart. According to PETA, Barcelona has actually declared itself an anti-bullfighting city. I would say that THAT is a step in the right direction. ūüėČ

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  2. Everyone has their opinion with regards to bullfighting but you cannot deny the amazing work that goes into a traje de luces (the matador “suit of lights”). I find it very interesting how some designers get the details right. It is a compliment to those tailors who actually make these suits and do the embroidery.

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    • Thank you for the articulate comment, glamoroustriathlete! The pageantry, embellishments and the color palette are really what inspires me. I had the ability to see a bullfight once in my life, in Madrid, and my feelings toward the ancient practice were very mixed. Although I cannot say if I approve of the animal rights issues, the sheer magnificence of symbols and traditions surround the matador are awe-inspiring.

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      • If you are ever inclined to go again, you should go with someone who can explain ever aspect of the bullfight to you. It makes quite the difference in how you will understand the spectacle and why they do the things they do. It’s like accidentally stepping into the OR when they are doing open-heart surgery: it’s violent and it takes you aback but there is a reason to it all.

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