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Darío Villalba

Born in San Sebastian in 1939, died in Madrid in 2018 (SP).

Born in San Sebastian in 1939 and died in Madrid in 2018, Darío Villalba was one of the most influential Spanish artists of the 20th century, whose highly personal work does not follow any artistic canon of the time.

Darío Villalba’s works generally depict human figures, often solitary and helpless in extreme situations, using photographs he manipulates, repeats and transforms into true icons, witnessing their power of expression in the face of pain, illness, death and suffering. They are the subjects of paintings that, as Villalba said, sometimes contain more tension than life itself.


Son of a diplomat, Darío Villalba’s family situation led him early on to live in different circles from those of most Spanish artists of his generation. His stays abroad gave him the opportunity to experience and take part in the birth of the new artistic practices emerging in Europe and the United States in the 1950s.

After studying art in Madrid and Boston, Darío Villalba began painting in 1957 and soon moved to Paris to work in André Lhote’s atelier. In 1962, he won a scholarship to study at Harvard University. In the early 1970s, he started one of his most singular and avant-garde series, questioning our perception of time and reality : he encapsulated photographs of marginal figures in large-format methacrylate and Plexiglas constructions. These expressive portraits seem to float in a chrysalis, like eternally suspended moments.

In 1970, at the 35th Venice Biennale, he presented his “Encapsulados“, which led him on the international scene. During the same decade, he exhibited in major European museums : Künstlerhaus, Vienna; Heidelberg Kunstverein, Heidelberg; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Stadt Museum Bochum, Bochum, Germany; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt; Sonja Henie-Niels Onstand Foundation, Hovikooden, Norway.

In 1973, he was awarded the International Painting Prize at the 12th São Paulo Biennial. The consistent quality of his work earned him a number of distinctions, including the Gold Medal of Merit for Fine Arts, awarded by the King of Spain in 2002, and the National Prize for Fine Arts in 2003.

In 2017, he was selected by curator Emma Lavigne to take part in the 14th Lyon Biennial.

Dario Villalba’s work has been exhibited in numerous public and private institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, MoMa (New York, 1984), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris, 1987) and the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, 2007).

His work is held in national and international collections such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Solomon R. Guggeheim Museum in New York, the AENA Collection in Madrid, the Juan March Foundation in Palma de Mallorca, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and the Pinault Collection, to name but a few.

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Gallery Contact

Camille Bréchignac


“Passion is anti-conformist, it twists things, compresses and expresses them. In that way, Darío Villalba can be described as a tortuous being and artist, as he questions his identity to the limit of crushing and expression, which loads his work with tension, a work energized by contradiction, something Warhol might have effectively defined as “Pop Soul”.


Francisco Calvo Serraller, “La Exposicíon como Autorretrato”, 2007

Actualités & Presse

Exhibitions at the Gallery


Darío Villalba, Solo Show

Solo Show

December 15th, 2023 - January 27th, 2024

The First Stone

Group Show

October 13 - December 2, 2023