April 20, On This Day
A Swedish piece of sunshine
During the 20th century, a certain painting became an icon for the history of Stockholm, the Swedish capital. Even today, it is frequently displayed whenever the history of the city is commemorated. This piece of art is Vädersolstavlan (Swedish for ‘The Sundog Painting’) — an oil-on-panel painting depicting sun dogs (Vädersol or ‘weather sun’), a halo display, observed over the city on April 20, 1535. This atmospheric optical phenomenon or parhelion consists of a bright spot to one or both sides of the Sun. It also happens to be oldest depiction of Stockholm in colour, arguably the oldest Swedish landscape painting and the oldest depiction of sun dogs. While the original is lost, a 1636 copy was carefully restored in 1998-99.
A Miró-cle was born!
Described as a seminal figure in 20th-century avant-garde painting, Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist Joan Miró was born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893. Although his parents told him not to pursue art and his first art show was a disaster, his persistence and creative talent won him a prolific career, even as he remained devoutly committed to his Catalan roots. He even sold a painting to Ernest Hemingway and remained life-long friends with Pablo Picasso. Primarily described as a master Surrealist, the works of Miró have also been associated with Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, psychic automatism, and more — and yet, he chose to reject all labels and form a unique visual language of his own. From painting to collage and sculpture to prints and wood reliefs, Miró experimented tirelessly throughout his career. In 1974, he was commissioned to create a monumental tapestry for New York’s World Trade Center, which hung the lobby of the South Tower until it was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
Frida Kahlo Barbie? Nope!
Just about three years ago, on April 20, 2018, a Mexican court barred sales of the controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll in the painter’s home country, ruling her family owned the sole rights to her image. The Frida Kahlo doll, launched in March that same year by US toy giant Mattel, had drawn criticism for putting a painter known for defying gender norms into the plastic body of Barbie. It also drew a lawsuit from Kahlo’s relatives, who claimed Mattel used the painter’s image without their authorization and criticized the company for lightening her skin, feminizing her features and omitting her famous unibrow. The court ruling banned sales of the Frida Barbie immediately in Mexico, or any use of the “brand, image and works of Frida Kahlo” by Mattel.