This week’s print is a mystery of sorts because internet searches yielded no additional information about Celso Lagar’s printmaking exploits. Lagar started
as a sculptor in Spain, studying under Miguel Blay in Madrid. Probably after meeting Amedeo Modigliani (1885-1920) in Paris, Lagar shifted his attention in about 1910-15 to painting and illustration. Lagar is also one of many famed artists who were members of the Modernist School of Paris, the incubator of many avant-garde movements and one of the more important periods in 20th century art history.
suffers from some minor conservation woes such as discoloration and adhesive stains in the margins. From an edition of 50, the work bears no title but has a signature, “Lagar.” A dwarven clown plays guitar while a Spanish woman dressed in traditional clothing cools herself with a fan. A male figure who resembles a strong man stands nearby, arms folded in preparation to lift something heavy. A hunched master of ceremonies leans down, as if he is listening to a secret uttered by the baboon at his feet. Another clown sits, playing a stringed instrument, lost in thought.
Lagar was influenced by other artists of the time and this print has similarities to Picasso’s (1881-1973) jesters, and Diego Velazquez’ (1599-1660) paintings of dwarves, in particular his Las Meninas (Maids of Honor) 1656-57. The scene feels like a family portrait, as in Las Meninas, but a family of performers. Lagar’s work fell out of fashion in the 1950’s as the influence of
Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism and other early avant-garde movements waned.