La Spagna dipinge il Novecento (Spain Paints the 20th Century) is the title chosen for this exhibition, which contemplates the existence of an artistic panorama that contributes significantly to Art History, despite certain historical vicissitudes. It comprises sixty works by forty-two artists from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Collection and gives an overview, via key works, of the events in 20th century art in Spain. Furthermore, the exhibit unfolds in chronological order, beginning with a first section articulated by Pablo Picasso, one of the most universal Spanish artists.
With the exhibition Romantic landscapes with missing elements, Nedko Solakov (Cherven Briag, Bulgaria, 1957) carries out an idea which demonstrates the relativity of the binomial "representation and truth" leaning on art history to do so. In this way, he uses art history to draw examples that the public may be largely familiar with and which allow him to unfold the ironies associated with the narrative of the pieces. The twelve paintings that make up this exhibition, all the same size, take as a starting point and maximum reference German romantic paintings from the first decades of the nineteenth century, specifically the work and the pictorial and compositional elements from Caspar David Friedrich (1774 - 1840).
Susana Solano (Barcelona, 1946) is one of the protagonists of the new Spanish sculpture who gained international acclaim during the late eighties and early nineties together with names like Juan Muñoz, Cristina Iglesias and Jaume Plensa. The coherence and interest in her work began to be appreciated after her exhibition at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona in 1980, an exhibition that marks the beginning of a career that leads her to participate during the Eighties in artistic events on the world stage, such as the Documenta in Kassel or the São Paulo and Venice Biennial. In 1988 she was awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas and four years later the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía exhibits her work at the Palacio de Velázquez.
Fernando Zóbel (Manilla, 1924 - Rome, 1984) is a key figure in Spanish Art in the second half of the 20th century. Zóbel does not only stand out for his contribution to pictorial Abstraction, but also for his interest and patronage, which leads him to begin a collection that includes names such as Gerardo Rueda, Gustavo Torner, Luis Feito, Eusebio Sempere, Antonio Saura, Manuel Millares, Martín Chirino and José Guerrero. In 1966, this collection gives rise to the Museum of Abstract Spanish Art in Cuenca, a reference point for Spanish Abstraction in the Fifties and Sixties.
The book, used to disseminate written knowledge, broadens its use as a format and develops variations as it becomes an object of art. Therefore, there are differences between the livre d’artiste andartist's book - the first contains etchings, lithographs, screen prints and xylographs engraved by hand, and is published in limited, numbered editions that are intended for collectors. One of the earliest examples is Pierre Bonnard's Parallèlement (1900), containing poems by Paul Verlaine. However, the artist's book is developed later; the artist that devises it is interested in the book as a format and its access to a wider public with large print runs at a low cost. Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1962) by Ed Ruscha is is one of the first examples of this genre.
Guillermo Kuitca (Buenos Aires, 1961) is one of the most internationally renowned, contemporary Argentine artists. When he was only thirteen years old he held his first solo exhibition at the Lirolay Gallery in Buenos Aires, although his artistic maturity begins in the Eighties.
Swiss art finds kudos between the Thirties and Forties as numerous artists from various disciplines come together under one common denominator - “the integration of the arts” - conceptualised by the previous experience of the German Bauhaus. The Constructivist motto, “Art should shape and organise daily life, not decorate it”, gives rise to a mentality that is inspired by avant-garde movements and which acquires strong experimental components. Thus movements emerge that go down in history within diverse fields, for instance Concrete Art, Objective Photography and New Typography as well as functional architecture and furniture, all present in this extensive exhibition.
The career of artist Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen, 1967) is one of the most consolidated in today's artistic panorama. Despite his age, the Danish artist realises projects for the most important museums in the world and his work is exhibited in numerous countries. His productions incorporate scientific principles to create certain effects that encompass natural elements such as light, water, ice and lava. Eliasson has a penchant for landscape and the environment, architecture and utopian philosophies; therefore, he frequently creates sculptures and installations, some large-scale, that are located in public spaces.
The sisters Claudia Müller (Basel, Switzerland, 1964) and Julia Müller (Basel, Switzerland, 1965) turn adolescent ideals into the main theme and debate of their works. Identity issues and questions about love and personal relationships in youth are made manifest from cultural criticism.
The painter Jorge Oramas (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1911 - Tafira, 1935) is an example of artist whose short life was an obstacle to continuing a promising work already noted for its innovation in its infancy. In 2001 the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía exhibited Alfonso Ponce de León’s work, also a painter and whose untimely death cut short the development of his interesting work. Despite the differences -not only biographical, but also stylistic- the paintings of these artists deserves to be firmly placed in the Spanish art scene in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Pepe Espaliú (Cordoba, 1955 - Madrid, 1993) is one of the leading artists of the Spanish generation of the Eighties. Painter, sculptor, illustrator and writer, he develops a coherent and meaningful work very closely associated to his reflections on his own identity. His work is thanks to one of the most profound conceptualisations of living with AIDS, which caused his death and which he boldly accepted on an artistic level and where he produced some of his most important works.
The project Desapariciones (Disappearances)by Aballí (Barcelona, 1958) sets out from the literary and film work of the Frenchman Georges Perec (1936-1982), particularly the novel La disparition (1969), whereby Perec performs constrained writing as he leaves out the letter “e” from the text. Aballí takes this element to reflect upon the referential and the subversion of the conventions that cause a work of art to be considered in a particular way.
Black Mountain College was an art school located in the south-west of North Carolina, United States and had its doors open between 1933 and 1956; some of the most iconic names on the American art scene at that time attended. Its liberal educational system encompassed different artistic disciplines which were taught based on experimentation. Students were divided into "Junior" who worked in small groups and "Senior", who agreed to a system of individualised tutoring. There were no loans or notes; the only assessment was an exam the student requested when they thought they were ready.
Carmen Calvo (Valencia, 1950) begins to stand out on the Spanish art scene during the Seventies. The influences of Pop Art, received largely through its Valencian version embodied by Rafael Solbes and Manolo Valdés, members of Equipo Crónica, are part of her beginnings.
Pablo Picasso (Malaga 1881 - Mougins, France, 1973) made around two thousand, two hundred prints, from eighteen years old until 1972, one year before his death. His great talent and creativity generates one of the most extensive and varied artistic productions of the twentieth century. Within the range of exhibitions on Picasso at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, some of them include his print productions, such as Picasso Grabador, held in 1993 and Picasso: las grandes series, which is held in 2001.