Current Exhibition

Art of the Bullfight

Francisco de Goya, Mariano Cabailos (from the Tauromaquia series, Plate 23), circa 1815-1816, etching and aquatint, 8 1/2 x 12 1/4 in. Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Gift of the Richard James Dillingham Estate, 1994 (1994.67.83).

The bullfight is an art form and a significant cultural event across the Spanish speaking world and beyond. The cast of characters includes a cuadrilla or team of bullfighters, led by the matador and his six assistants: two picadores (lancers), three banderilleros (flagmen), a mozo de espada (the lad of the swords). At the center of the extravaganza is their adversary, el toro, the bull. The aesthetic of bullfighting is based on the interplay between the man and the bull. Bullfight is less a competitive sport than a ritual, judged by aficionados for its artistic effects and the demonstration of style, technique, and courage by its participants.

Drawn from the New Mexico Museum of Art’s collection, this exhibition offers an eclectic survey of various ways artists working in Spain, Mexico, and the United States have drawn inspiration from the spectacle of the bullfight. For hundreds of years artists have been inspired by the primal energy, costumes, choreography, performance, and the exhilaration of the bullfight. While some artists capture a record of the scene, others seek to embody the expressive energy of the emotionally charged moment.


Art of the Bullfight: Elaine De Kooning’s Juarez Series with Christian Waguespack