The photography of Joel-Peter Witkin (New York, 1939) does not go by unnoticed since his core themes of sex, pain and death are explored with great intensity and sordidness. Teeming with pornographic nudity and references to Art History, for the artist his work is a medium through which he sees and re-enacts fantasies not found in everyday life.
Contemporary sculpture is characterised by a variety of unprecedented styles, themes and mediums. The Nasher Collection is one of the most representative and complete private sculpture collections in the twentieth century that faithfully reflects this diversity. The pieces, amassed by Raymond Nasher since the Sixties, are spread out in Dallas between his house and NorthPark, an office complex and shopping centre created by Nasher himself.
During the first half of the Seventies, a series of American artists develop a set of aesthetic approaches that aim to free art from its function of representation - associated with figurative tradition - as well as its ideological content. Thus, with the use of related volumes, materials and mediums that identify a work of art solely with itself, Minimalism is born.
When Marcel Odenbach (Cologne, Germany, 1953) begins to exhibit his work in West Germany in the Seventies the art scene is dominated by American art, apart from the work of a handful of artists such as Joseph Beuys. Yet the work of Odenbach is based on different principles and has more experimental leanings with its use performance and audiovisual materials.
One of the most salient characteristics of the work of Antoni Muntadas (Barcelona, 1942) is the use of mass media content for art purposes. The broad vision of his work, as well as the diversity of visible interests and mediums, is portrayed in this Muntadas exhibition in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Four works spanning from 1978 to 1987 are reconstructed in the exhibition halls in addition to five video pieces and two compositions created solely within the context of the exhibition: the installation Situación and the catalogue piece Híbridos.
Carl Andre (Quincy, USA, 1935) is one of the key figures of Minimal Art, developed at the beginning of the Sixties in the USA. The artist has fashioned his own highly recognisable style, taking the literal nature of the materials to the extreme in the development of his sculptures as his work pays heed to the fundamental principles of the movement.
The exhibition El siglo de Picasso (A Century of Picasso)brings together works from the Spanish avant-garde produced among thirty-four artists between 1910 and 1970, the majority from overseas collections. The exhibit is part of the exhibition programme Five Centuries of Spanish Art, whose journey begins in Paris. It is divided into five chapters linked to important historical events and also includes two detours to take in other significant historical phenomena.
The eighteen painters and sculptors comprising ACTA 88 bear witness to the general panorama of plastic arts in Madrid at a particular moment in time. This exhibition enables the artistic output and circumstances surrounding the epoch to be recorded, representing a kind of cross-section of the most up-to-date creativity in Spain.
Naturalezas españolas (Spanish Nature) is an historical review of the most significant art movements in Spain spanning four decades and analysed from the monographic perspective of nature. The common thread of the exhibition is divided into the following sections: “Facing Nature”, “With Nature”, “On Nature”, “Beyond Nature”, five propositions representing the five different models between art and nature.
Presented in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Ileana and Michael Sonnabend's collection is an important testimony to twenty-five years of artistic activity in the United States and Europe. Many of the works in this collection are key to understanding the art of our times; it encompasses many of the predominant art movements, such as Pop Art, Minimal Art, Arte Povera, Antiform, Conceptual Art, American and German Expressionism, Neo-minimalism, Neo-conceptualism and multimedia practices.
José María Sert (Barcelona, 1874-1945), one of the great Spanish muralists, was one of the most sought-after and controversial artists of his time. Descendant of the Catalan Renaixença (Renaissance) and trained in Modernism, he crafts his pictorial style on the peripheries of the stylistic trends of the time, applying aspects of Orientalism, clear Baroque influences and a kind of Goya-esque Expressionism, as well as a potent imagination, to create and adapt themes based on a grandiloquent narrative.
Joan Miró (Barcelona, 1893 - Palma de Mallorca, 1983), one of the most important artists in the history of twentieth century Spanish art, is represented with over four hundred works from the State Collection of Spain. Due to the promulgation of the Cultural Heritage Law in Spain in 1985, the State has been able to incorporate a large number of the Catalan artist's works into its collection that were previously absent. Besides the works donated by the artist's widow, Doña Pilar Juncosa, or by Joan Miró himself or his heirs, the State has incorporated the remaining works assembled in their collection through: direct acquisitions, payments by means of inheritance rights or Income Tax, all of which can be added to donations by Margerite and Aimé Maeght and the Maeght gallery in Barcelona. In total: forty paintings, seventeen drawings, forty-three sculptures, over three hundred etchings and eighteen artist books.
Along with the rest of Europe, the beginnings of video art in Spain are determined by the approach of plastic arts to this new medium, as the possibility of innovation within its aesthetic explorations gets underway.
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, 1887 - Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, 1965), lives through the periods of Cubism, Constructivism, Neo-plasticism and the Bahaus. Inspired by all of them, he takes up a purist stance that advocates the harmonious relationship and expressive spontaneity in simple and refined forms.
The fiftieth anniversary of Guernica, and, therefore, Spain's participation in the Paris International Exhibition in 1937, forms the central motif of this exhibition in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The display rebuilds the recollections of the Spanish Pavilion, a landmark for Spain's presence in international exhibitions and one of the finest pavilions of those in attendance at the exhibition in Paris. At the height of the Civil War, and in barely six months, the building was successfully opened, representing the determination of the Spanish people to make their complex reality visible to the world with a sample of one their finest cultural achievements.
The Colombian Fernando Botero (Medellín, Colombia, 1932) possesses one of the most recognisable styles in Latin American artistic tradition, with accentuated corporeality that allows him to work with proportions that are not the norm. Botero defines his work as figurative art, inflated forms and rotund figures as “divergent expressive forms”.
Beyond industrial and commercial dimensions, design owes its development to political and sociological aspects. It arrives late in Spain in the Fifties, with the precedent of crudely mechanised crafts which are deeply rooted in the social and economic life. A craft which later moves on to a more traditional rather than technological industry and imitated foreign models more than national ones.
Since his career began in the mid-sixties, the video artist and sculptor, Dan Graham (Urbana, United States, 1942) has also been a gallery owner, art critic, graphic designer, filmmaker and performer. Through a personal artistic language, this artist uses his sculptures and videos to delve into social and aesthetic codes. In this way a large part of his production focuses on the reflection of perceptual and philosophical structures put into play by spectators when observing his works, this is why his work has been defined in line with what has been called Art Behaviour. The works selected for this exhibition at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia clearly demonstrate the artist's evolution over two decades and expose the essential concepts of his work which are closely related to a psycho-social approach to the perception of space.
Through a compilation of some of its most important artists, this exhibition depicts nearly a century of the history of American photography from its beginnings in the 1860s until the Eighties of the twentieth century. The common theme in this exhibition is the photographic expression of the American experience, photography as an expression of the hopes and failures of the "American dream" and the various revisions of it that have been lacking over the years to keep that tradition alive.
Cy Twombly (Lexington, USA, 1928 - Rome, 2011), a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, is heir to the first generation of Abstract Expressionism. He reaches maturity in the Sixties with a style that attaches great importance to the psychic gesture expressed through line and which can be seen in the scribbles, letters, numbers, words, diagrams and signs that appear throughout his career. For this reason Harald Szeemann, curator of this exhibition has said of the artist: "With the line, he has been able to say what almost every painter would like to say."
Compared to his peers at the School of London, such as Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach’s (Berlin, 1931) fame is relatively modest. However his paintings have been praised on numerous occasions in and out of England, where he has lived since 1939.
German sculptors Albert Hien (Munich, Germany, 1956), Thomas Schütte (Oldenburg, Germany, 1954), Bogomir Ecker (Marburg, Slovenia, 1950), Wolfgang Luy (Trier, Germany, 1949) and Reinhard Mucha (Düsseldorf, Germany, 1950) share the same nationality, discipline and belong to the same generation, but their work does not have too much in common. To that extent a certain industrial aesthetic derived from the materials chosen and how they are worked is seen in the work of Hien, Ecker and Mucha, while Schütte and Luy share an architectural purpose and spatiality . But, when together as a group, they cannot stop speaking about the diversity of German sculpture during the Eighties and the different avenues of research that were being considered.
Titled Michelangelo Antonioni: Architetture della visione, the protagonist is Michelangelo Antonioni’s (Ferrara, Italy, 1912 - Rome, 2007) film aesthetics, analysed through his films and his work techniques. An extensive two-volume catalogue published only in Italian has been summarised in a single volume and translated into Spanish especially for this occasion, the exhibition at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Diego Rivera (Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886 - Mexico City, 1957) is, along with José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, the most accomplished example of a Mexican muralist. Beyond the devotion that exists for him in Mexico as leader of the artistic revolution that has made his figure reach almost heroic dimensions, his international prestige is unquestionable.
This exhibition is designed as a simultaneous addendum to the major retrospective exhibition of Diego Rivera (Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886 - Mexico City, 1957) at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Among the set of selected photographs are portraits of the artist and his immediate environment, as well as of Mexican people and landscapes, home to one of the most famous muralists in the history of contemporary art.
Jasper Johns (Augusta, USA, 1930), is an emblem of American painting in the second half of the twentieth century and one of the artists of his generation who focused more on printmaking. During the quarter century that is reflected in this exhibition, Johns dedicates himself to various printmaking techniques through which he reproduced many of the motifs and compositions that appeared simultaneously in his painting. Maps, American flags, paint cans or targets are some of the recurring themes that have become part of the iconography of the late twentieth century.
Gilbert & George - Gilbert Prousch (San Martino, Dolomites, Italy, 1943) and George Passmore, (Devon, United Kingdom, 1942), are one of the most celebrated pairs of artists in the UK. After meeting in 1967 at St Martins College of Art in London they proclaim that their work together is an anti-elitist conception of art, underpinned by the belief that it is “art for all”, based on what they call “art and life”. The approach and declarations of Gilbert & George challenge enigmatic art, and its darkness and obsession with form.
Joan Miró (Barcelona, 1893 - Palma de Mallorca, 1983) has always been considered a painter, despite his extensive and diverse artistic output. The impact of the classes he receives from the painter Francesc Galí are key to his approaches to sculpture via the notion of the object; this point of reference, predominant in his work (also his pictorial output) is also subjected to distortions, changes in meaning and the introduction of new contexts.
Julio González (Barcelona, 1876 - Paris, 1942) is one of the preeminent Spanish sculptors, laying the foundations for the wave of modern sculpture from the Thirties onwards. Based on Assemblage and construction through lines, layers and empty spaces, the movement started by González is in contrast to the work of other sculptors such as Brancusi, a key figure in Modernism, whose work is based on the principle of construction by the composition of masses and expression through moulding.
The meeting of the curator Germano Celant, the architect Frank O. Gehry (Toronto, 1929) and the artists Coosje van Bruggen (Groningen, 1942 - Los Angeles, 2009) and Claes Oldenburg (Stockholm, 1929) transpired in a large-scale sculpture called Knife Ship. Il corso del Coltello (in its original Italian name) - a boat with twenty-four metre long oars and knife blades measuring nine metres when folded out as well as a corkscrew in an upright position. This piece arrived in the Venetian Arsenale on 6 September 1985 to become the backdrop for three days of diverse artistic activity and a performance that involved the dramatisation of the 'alter ego' of each one: Oldenburg as “Doctor Coltello”, a souvenir salesman with secret ambitions to become a painter, van Bruggen as “Georgia Sanda”, a modern version of Georges Sand, an individualist and adventurer, and the architect Gehry as “Franky Toronto”, a modern Piranesi.
This exhibition is the public presentation of the Edificio Sabatini restoration project, previously the Madrid Hospital building, and its conversion into the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The remodelling process, started in 1980 under the supervision of the architect Antonio Fernández Alba (Salamanca, 1927), was prolonged until 1986 when it began to house exhibition activities, although in actual fact the history of the building dates back to the eighteenth century.
Among the three exhibitions to open the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in 1986, Procesos brings together a compendium of works that use the cutting-edge tools and technological supports, applying them to the world of creation.
This celebratory exhibition of the opening of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía amalgamates three internationally renowned Spaniards: Eduardo Chillida, Antonio Saura and Antoni Tàpies beside three of the finest artistsom the second half of the twentieth century: Georg Baselitz, Cy Twombly and Richard Serra. The lack of historical and stylistic common ground that joins them here as well as the origins and diverse time periods of each has led the art critic, Francisco Calvo Serraller, to call the confluence an “eccentric encounter” in the exhibition notes. Having said that, is is in fact possible to consider the convergence of some of them in terms of the purpose and intent of their work. For instance, Saura clearly shares certain Expressionist references with Baselitz; the poetic and gestural nature of the material and the presence of calligraphy are also common in Tàpies and Twombly, and the preponderance of three-dimensions in Chillida's and Serra's work gives rise to analogical origins of their way of conceiving artistic creation.