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Maruja Mallo’s “Sewers and Belfries” (c. 1929-1932)

Anna Wieck, curatorial research associate, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art. In this lecture delivered on May 7, 2018, as part of the Works in Progress series at the National Gallery of Art, Anna Wieck focuses on the early work of painter and ceramicist Maruja Mallo (1902–1995). Created within the context of the so-called Vallecas School, Mallo’s painting series Cloacas y campanarios (c. 1929–1932)—meaning “Sewers and Belfries”—and other early works picture the detritus found in Madrid’s outskirts and present Mallo’s critique of the academic conventions of Spanish landscape painting. Wieck considers Mallo’s interrogation of art world norms while also investigating the artist’s contemplation of her place within Spain’s artistic panorama following her prolonged exile to Argentina (1936–1961) as a result of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).