The main purpose of universities is generally understood to revolve around teaching and research, but these institutions also have other important roles that tend to receive less attention. This event looks at the architectural and artistic heritage belonging to Spain's National University of Distance Education (UNED). The collection is brought together for the first time in this publication, which examines how contemporary art has been collected, exhibited and supported by the university as an institution.
The UNED collection has been guided by an acquisitions policy that tries to reconcile the notion of heritage with that of contemporaneity. It thus conveys the idea that culture can be a living and active form of production in the present, and it develops the concept of its responsibility to "take care of" the contemporary artist, who benefits from the support of an institution free of market pressures and oscillations.
This heritage is varied, consisting of both architecture and the visual arts. The architecture responds to the model of a campus that needs no classrooms (this University imparts distance education) and it has instead focused on creating singular buildings, both restorations and new constructions. In both cases, the UNED collection tells a minor history of architecture in Madrid, with particularly good representation of the late and critical modernity of José Ignacio Linazasoro, the architect who designed the UNED library (1989-1994) and the remodelling of the Escuelas Pías building in Lavapiés (1996-2004). Also very present is the contribution of the Cano Lasso studio, which is responsible for the UNED branch located in Las Rozas (1994-1997). The visual arts are found mainly in the Certamen de Arte event and in sculptural interventions. The former, which has been held annually since 1991, has made it possible to display and collect the early works of outstanding artists. The latter is a series of specific interventions that reveal the links that connect architecture to its surroundings, returning to the idea of the integration of the arts and engaging in a dialogue with the spectator. Important yet lesser-known works by Juan Muñoz, Susana Solano, Cristina Iglesias and Nacho Criado, among others, are included here.
In short, this book increases awareness of another facet of university activity, an unusual yet decisive activity contributing to the fabric of contemporary art, on the occasion of the UNED's 40th anniversary.
Juan A. Gimeno Ullastres, Vice-Chancellor of the UNED.
Simón Marchán Fiz, chaired professor of aesthetics and theory of the arts in the Department of Philosophy of the UNED.
Víctor Nieto Alcalde, chaired professor of art history at the UNED.
Roberto Turégano, graphic designer. Clients include Taurus, Blume, the Professional Association of Architects of Madrid, the Spanish Ministry of Culture and the historical Residencia de Estudiantes. He is the designer of this book.