April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

Joaquín Sorolla: Journeys of the Light

(2017) 55 min. In Spanish w/English subtitles. DVD: $145: high schools & public libraries; $350: colleges & universities. DRA. PRAGDA (www.pragda.com). PPR.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmaker Sonia Tercero Ramiro’s documentary serves up an insightful biography of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) as well as a passionate appreciation of his legacy. Orphaned along with his sister when their parents died, Sorolla studied art in Spain and then secured a grant that took him to Italy and France before returning to his homeland, where he won recognition as a leader of the modern Spanish school of painting. Toward the turn of the century, Sorolla developed a special interest in depicting light shimmering on sea waves, landscape backdrops, and even in many portraits. This unique luminosity on canvas became a stylistic hallmark and it is this naturalist aspect of his work that is most commented on here by experts including artists, historians, and curators. Joaquín Sorolla closes with a lengthy section on a commission to produce a series of huge murals for the Hispanic Society of America building in New York City, which consumed much of the last decade of Sorolla’s life (these remain a major visitors’ attraction). While the film is a lovingly illustrated tribute to the artist’s professional accomplishments, it also doesn’t ignore his personal life, putting particular emphasis on Sorolla’s devotion to his family. A fine introduction to an important painter of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (F. Swietek)