July 19, 2007

The Meadows Museum Presents
“Tile Design in Valencia: From the Middle Ages Through the Early 20th Century”

DALLAS (SMU) – Luminous, delicate and vibrantly colored, tiles are a fundamentally important element of Spanish art, architecture and urban life. The city of Valencia on the Spanish Mediterranean coast has been the center of tile production and design since the Middle Ages, and its tile industry remains internationally important today.

The history of tiles reflects the beauty and diversity of Spanish art while paralleling its development. Tile Design in Valencia: From the Middle Ages Through the Early 20th Century, to be exhibited from July 22 through October 21, 2007 at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, showcases more than 100 pieces that have never been shown outside of Spain and reveals the evolution of Valencian tile design between 1300 and 1930. The show comes to the Meadows Museum directly from the Queen Sofia Institute in New York, its only other venue.

The tiles in the exhibition are drawn from the collection of Spain’s National Ceramic Museum, which is located in Valencia, as well as from two other important museums in this region which are devoted to collecting, studying, and displaying tiles: the Manolo Safont Tile Museum in Onda, Castellón, and the Ceramic Museum of Manises, Valencia. The exhibit is organized chronologically and divided into eight sections: “Mystic Geometry: From the Muslim World Through Medieval Christianity,” “For Kings, Prelates, and Knights,” “The Miracle of Color,” “Carpets and Tapestries for Churches and Palaces,” “Kitchen Tiles,” “Tiles for the Entire World,” “Late 19th Century Tiles,” and “Tiles in the Early 20th Century and the Modernist Movement.”

Ceramics came to the Iberian Peninsula with Muslims from North Africa in 711, and over the ages developed into a richly varied art form reflecting the blended cultural heritage of Spain. Islamic influences, from the elaborate geometric patterns seen in floor paving to the use of colors like lapis and cobalt, both mined in the East, are felt throughout. Also evident are the influences of Northern Europe, from the courtly designs of some Gothic tiles to the playful figures of the 17th and 18th century.

One section highlights the sumptuary ceramics of the Valencian nobility, clergy, and professional associations or guilds of the Medieval and Renaissance periods, when heraldry was incorporated into various pieces as displays of wealth, social status and prestige.

The exhibit also showcases the Spanish aesthetic at large, from the Mannerist styles of the 16th century through the eclecticism of the Romantic period. It devotes special attention to the brilliant cycle of 17th century Rococo and Neo-Classical tile design in Valencia, and ends with a look at the popularization of industrial tile production in the 19th and 20th century, when the American market opened up to Valencian tile. These pieces embody the numerous artistic forms prevalent at the time, from romantic revivalism to Art Nouveau and modern abstraction.

Throughout the exhibition the role of economic development is highlighted as well. Production moved from the guilds of the Middle Ages into the industrial and commercial processes of the modern age. Tiles are displayed from each period in this development, exemplifying not only shifting aesthetic and technological influences, but the impact of trade and the creation of an industrialized factory system as well.

“This is the most significant exhibition ever organized of Valencian tiles, an art form with a long and rich history spanning more than six centuries,” said Dr. Mark Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum. “In fact, Valencia’s tile industry is still vital—Spain is the second-largest exporter of ceramic tiles worldwide, with approximately 80 percent of those coming from Valencia. This exhibition will introduce the public to the remarkable history and evolution of tile design and, we hope, will instill a new appreciation for an art form that is usually taken for granted.”

This exhibition is the first event initiated under the landmark Dallas-Valencia Cooperation Agreement signed this spring by the Generalitat de Valencia, which is the regional government of Valencia, the city of Dallas, and Southern Methodist University for a culture, education, commerce and tourism partnership. The exhibition was organized by the Generalitat de Valencia and the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute in New York, which hosted the show this past winter. Curator of the exhibition is Dr. Jaume Coll, Director of the National Museum of Ceramics in Valencia. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color catalogue in Spanish, with English translations of essays included.

About the Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum, a division of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, with works dating from the 10th to the 21st century. It includes masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest painters: El Greco, Velázquez, Ribera, Murillo, Goya, Miró and Picasso. The museum is located at 5900 Bishop Blvd. on the campus of SMU, three blocks west of the DART light rail Mockingbird Station. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 per person, free on Thursday evenings after 5 p.m., and free for children under 12, museum members, and SMU faculty, staff and students. Ample free parking is available in the museum garage. For information, call 214.768.2516 or visit the museum’s web site at


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Media Contact:
Victoria Winkelman