Over the last century or so, Malaga has produced remarkable and influential artists of all kinds. From the prolific creator of Guernica to a renowned Hollywood actor, here’s our list of artists from Malaga that everyone should be aware of.
Pablo Picasso, painter (1881-1973)
The painter who changed the face of 20th century art was born in an unassuming townhouse on Plaza Merced, in the heart of what has become Malaga’s trendiest quarter. Pablo Picasso’s birthplace is now a small museum housing artifacts from the family’s daily life, as well as several works by the artist and his father, who was also a painter and art teacher. However, the city’s main collection of paintings by its most celebrated son is just across town, in the Museo Picasso Malaga, where works spanning every phase of Picasso’s career are on display. The sheer amount of different styles the artist explored attest to his remarkable versatility. Most famous of all, of course, is Cubism (1909-1919), in which he produced many of his most famous works, but this was preceded by the lesser-known Blue (1901-1904) and Rose (1904-1906) periods. Guernica (1937) his gargatuan Spanish Civil War masterpiece, is regarded as one of the most important artworks of the 20th century.
Felix Revello de Toro, painter (b.1926)
Now over 90 years old, Malaga-born painter Felix Revello de Toro staged his first exhibition when he was just ten. Helped along in his formative years by Malaga City Council scholarships that funded study in Madrid and Rome, Revello first received major public recognition with an exhibition in the Spanish capital in 1952. It marked the official launch of a painter who would become known for his distinctive studies of the human form, especially erotically-charged depictions of the female body. In 2002, Revello was awarded the title of ‘Favourite Son’ by the regional government of Andalusia, many of his most important works being on view in the art gallery and museum that bears his name in central Malaga. This thoughtfully-curated museum provides a superb insight into one of the city’s most obscure but intriguing artists.
Antonio Banderas, actor & director (b.1960)
Despite his success, Antonio Banderas has not deserted his hometown: on weekends, he can often be found in the bars and clubs around his apartment in central Malaga, and is apparently always friendly and polite when approached by selfie-seeking admirers. Best remembered for his starring roles as a lonely, brooding outlaw in Desperado (1995) and The Mask of Zorro (1998), Banderas was just 22 when he caught the attention of renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, casting him in his first film, Labyrinth of Passion, in 1982. Ten years later, Banderas began his assault on Hollywood – still only possessing a basic command of English – and achieved his breakthrough with a starring role in 1993’s Philadelphia opposite Tom Hanks. Now fluent in English, Banderas still has trouble with the word ‘animals’ and uses synonyms for it whenever possible.
Antonio Molina, singer (1928-1992)
Notable for his remarkably high-pitched voice, singer and all-round entertainer Antonio Molina was born in the small town of Totalán, in the hilly, sun-baked countryside about 20 miles out of Malaga city. The people of this typical pueblo blanco are understandably proud of their most distinguished son, having named one of the town’s central squares Plaza Antonio Molina – a space which also features a bust and ceramic plate in memory of the artist. Molina is often referred to as a flamenco singer, but his music was more a blend of 1940s/1950s popular Spanish music with some of the traditional rhythms and themes of flamenco; particularly evident in one of his most famous songs, Soy Minero (I Am a Miner). Molina also tried his hand at acting and appeared in some well-received films, such as 1958’s El Cristo de los Faroles (The Christ of the Lanterns). Top marks go to any Culture Trip reader who’s seen it.
Maria Zambrano, writer & philosopher (1904-1991)
Writer and philosopher Maria Zambrano is remembered in her home city by Malaga’s main train station, named after her by the Spanish rail operator RENFE in 2007. Born into a literary family in Velez-Malaga, Zambrano spent most of her adult life outside Spain. A passionate supporter of the Republican cause during the country’s devastating Civil War of 1936-39, the philosopher went into exile after Franco’s Fascist forces won the conflict. Until her return to Spain in the mid-80s, Zambrano wrote and taught in Mexico, Cuba, France and Switzerland. It was during these years abroad that she produced what are considered to be her two masterpieces – Filosofia y Poesía (Philosophy and Poetry, 1939) and La Agonia de Europa (The Agony of Europe, 1945). Zambrano was awarded the Miguel de Cervantes prize in 1988, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in the Spanish language.
Jorge Rando, painter (b. 1941)
Jorge Rando is considered one of the finest neo-expressionist artists in the world. Born in Malaga, he moved to Germany in the late 1950s to immerse himself in German philosophy, concepts of which have played an important part in his art. An intellectual as well as a painter, Rando’s work is guided by the fundamental expressionist tenet of portraying human emotion in an abstract manner – eschewing, for example, detailed depictions of human facial expressions or figures. Malaga’s superb Jorge Rando Museum – the only art museum in Spain to focus solely on expressionism – focuses on the work of its namesake as well as displaying paintings by other important expressionist artists from around the world. Rando is still active as a painter and divides his time between Malaga and Hamburg.