The surrealist movement, definitely visible and theoretically debated with the publication of the Manifeste du Surréalisme (1924), written by André Breton (Tinchebray, France, 1896 - Paris, 1966) is a cosmology organised by and about Breton himself. His revolutionary pretensions, which are visible in all his publications, expositions and determinations, are understood as the will of general subversion (through action) in all areas of daily life, starting from poetry and art and moving to ethics, religion and politics. Thus, Surrealism is not only an artistic and literary expression, but a stance against the traditional values of culture and the bourgeois society and against realism in art. He supports the idea of an inner model in all creative acts, of otherness, absolute automatism (applied to poetic and artistic practice) as well as the adoption of meta-artistic methods that come from psychoanalysis, such as hypnosis, which allow the release of human consciousness and a return to a primitive and primordial state of thought.
The exhibition Cuatro direcciones. Fotografía contemporánea española. 1970-1990 contains a dual purpose. For one, it provides an overview of the names that have made up the history and practice of Spanish photography over the last twenty years, and secondly, it takes the first step towards creating a documented base which will be useful in the future for expanding its study and knowledge. The curator of the exhibition, Manuel Santos, has had the support of an international committee of experts in the selection of the photographers. Four areas or lines of work have been established for the presentation, they address the conceptual and stylistic differences of the fifty artists that are participating in the exhibition. These are: 1) "Reflection and concept", which shows the use of conceptual ideas and imagery of surrealist heritage, 2) "Dream and suggestion", where the authors develop concepts of insight and emotion, 3) "Documentary tradition" which comes from the natural order of life, focusing on social, cultural and political aspects and which sometimes refers to photojournalism and documentary photography, 4) "Means processes", in which the artists explore and push photographic means and materials to their limits, allowing them to develop a new image language.
The Palacio de Velázquez is the venue for the exhibition organised by Grupo 16 in collaboration with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. El Salón de los 16 is an initiative by the editorial group to promote the dissemination of Contemporary Art. In its first editions this annual conference focuses on bringing together the work of new generations of artists from Madrid though, as time moves on, the El Salón de los 16 broadens its plan to incorporate the whole of Spain. This, the eleventh exhibition, displays foreign artists' work alongside preeminent figures in Spanish art in what is considered an overview of the best exhibitions from 1990-1991.
The exhibition Picasso, Miró, Dalí and the Origins of Contemporary Art in Spain, 1900-1936 seeks to articulate Spanish artistic production (in several and well-known cases produced outside Spain) based on the concept of "Art Nouveau". Eugenio Carmona, curator of this exhibition gives an instrumental value to this concept and explains it as a principle that underlies much of the art that is performed during the first decades of the twentieth century. In this type of art there is evidence of a desire for a renewal of artistic languages, the paradigm of which is identified by the Spanish artists in contemporary European trends. From this perspective, the exhibition proposes a debate with Spanish art in tune with the names and aesthetic and theoretical avant-garde ideas, gathered under the umbrella of Modernism, while at the same time embedded in them. In this way, Spanish artists that have as reference the various "-isms" (Cubism, Futurism, Ultraism (Ultraísmo), Surrealism and Realism) participate in the international dimension of avant-garde art. Still, as the curator points out, "Art Nouveau" was not the only option Spanish art had in the period between 1900 and 1936.
This exhibition devoted to the painter Joaquín Torres-García (Montevideo, 1874-1949) aims to present his work chronologically throughout his career and identify his logic according to his theoretical and aesthetic discourse. The objective is to highlight how the principles of tradition, construction and universality are the constants on which the work of Uruguayan are based throughout his artistic journey, which extends for the whole of the first half of the twentieth century. The words of Tomas Llorens, curator of the exhibition, referring to Torres-Garcia’s work summarises the purpose of the exhibition: "[his work] is inseparable from the sharpness and coherence of the views he defended as an artist."
The constructive universalism project, foundations to Joaquín Torres-García’s (Montevideo, 1874-1949) artistic and theoretical productions reaches its peak when the artist returns from Paris to his hometown in 1934 and the following year organises the Constructive Art Association (1935-1939), preceding the Torres-Garcia Workshop (1943-1962). El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía joins both ideas with these two extensive exhibitions: Torres-Garcia’s career and his artistic legacy, the latter exhibited under the title La Escuela del Sur. El taller de Torres-García y su legado. Established in Montevideo, Torres-Garcia implements the idea of organising a workshop which converges, showing his artistic equality, aesthetic and theoretical, principles of pre-Columbian art with those of avant-garde abstract art, the development of which he had been instrumental in as a member of the group Cercle et Carré.
The retrospective exhibition dedicated to Gustavo Torner (Cuenca, 1925) aims to highlight the multifaceted character of one of the most outstanding Spanish artists living in the second half of the twentieth century. Torner joins the group called Cuenca, which emerges in the fifties and is close to artists from the group El Paso, he exemplifies the possibility of an art that will never abandon references to the real world as a reason and rationale, from a seemingly abstract visual vocabulary. The compiled works include the various registers and techniques used by Torner: painting, sculpture, collage, drawing, monotypes and bibliophile collections, added to which are fourteen video projections over some of his work.
The exhibition of sculptural works by Martín Chirino (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1925) provides an overview of a career that began in the fifties and reaches today; it proposes a dual recognition of the Chirino persona. On one hand, as heir to the Spanish sculptural avant-garde of the first half of the twentieth century, following that initiated by Julio González and Pablo Gargallo, in addition to his particular interest in the Canarian Aboriginal culture (Guanche). On the other, for his outstanding role in the renewal of artistic languages used post-war, through his participation in the group El Paso, of which he was a founding member, in 1957. This group marked the emergence of an art rooted in Spanish tradition, while at the same time critical of the social and political situation; this also led to the internationalisation of the authors and their works.
The exhibition devoted to the graphic work of writer and painter Pierre Klossowski (Paris, 1905-2001) presents a selection of drawings made between 1953 and 1990 to the Spanish public. These chronological boundaries frame a unique production on the European scene and among his contemporaries.
The exhibition dedicated to Gilles Aillaud (Paris, 1928-2005) consists of nearly fifty paintings which allow for a complete view into the work of one of the leading representatives of the pictorial trend called critical figuration that emerged in Paris around 1963. For the exhibition's curator, Christian Derouet, his style of painting is one that wants to "find a proper expression of what is real again, without nostalgia for the past." The two principles upon which he bases his work and his aesthetic discourse are the recovery of real painting, to which he confers a transitive value (that is to say, the painting has to be something), and the radical denial of neo-avant-garde rhetoric of modernity. Although Aillaud decides to devote himself to painting late in life, in around 1963, he never abandons his other occupations: playwriting and set design. In this regard, it is important to note the personal, artistic and professional links he maintains with Eduardo Arroyo and Antonio Recalcati, with whom he worked several times in the staging of various texts signed by him.
In this exhibition at the Crystal Palace, Nacho Criado (Mengíbar, 1943 - Madrid, 2010) submitted eight new projects under the theme Pieces of water and glass, where the pieces merge with the materiality of architecture and the enclave of the building, in front of a small lake in Retiro Park. In this way, glass is the common element in all the presented pieces, which he emphasises as visual antimatter (in the Duchampesque sense of the term) and in which he also explores their sensual, symbolic and especially metaphorical loads. The pieces that make up the exhibition have been chosen especially for the exhibition but - as indicated by the exhibition curator, Simon Marchan- it must be noted that there are certain recurrences in them "as they reflect a dilated time, almost untimely, to creations that reject nomadism and ooze manifestations of the present." In that way, within an artistic career influenced by his forays into Land Art, Conceptual Art, Arte Povera and even the Minimal, without categorically ascribing to any of them, Nacho Criado uses glass to set up games of transparency and reflection, and for this he also alludes to and envokes, explicitly or implicitly, water.
The exhibition devoted to Joan Brossa (Barcelona, 1919-1998) offers the possibility to see the work of a Spanish artist whose proposals have prominently affected the development of the visual arts in the second half of the twentieth century, from fields of experience different to conventional art and ideas close to poetic practice and objectual art. For this exhibition over a hundred works have been collected, they have been made along a journey that began fifty years ago and have been signalled by the active role of Brossa in the Catalan avant-garde, post-war, with his participation in the group Dau al Set, along with Antoni Tàpies, Joan Ponç and Arnau Puig. Worth noting is the homogeneity of his work over the years and his recognition by the new generation of artists in the eighties.
The exhibition offers a journey through the ten-year career path of Anish Kapoor (Bombay, 1954), from his early work where he begins to formulate his own language, until he achieves his own sculptural grammar, based on the contamination of issues from the field of painting and the psychology of perception. The limits of this exhibition are placed between the piece 1000 Names (1979-1980) and a selection of thirty-one other pieces with which he represented England in the 44th Venice Biennale (1990), this selection is similar to the one that can be seen at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
The retrospective exhibition of Markus Lüpertz (Liberec-Reichenberg, Czech Republic, 1941) traces the career of one of the greatest living German artists of recent decades. A representative of German Neo-Expressionism along with Georg Baselitz, A. R. Penck (Ralf Winkler) and Jörg Immendorff. Emerging in the early Sixties, Lüpertz and his generation conducted a special reformation of painting from the painting itself, in many cases making references back to the vanguards of the beginning of the century. Lüpertz’s intense and complex career is synthesised in the hundred and thirty-five pieces (paintings, drawings and sculptures) now brought together, and are organised into three chronological groups, although there are extensions to the reasons and resources in them.
The retrospective exhibition Francesc Torres. The Dragon's Head offers a tour of the twenty years that make up Francesc Torres’ career (Barcelona, 1948). The exhibition brings together works the majority of which have never been exhibited in Spain, composed of works produced primarily in the United States, except the Fifty Rains (1990-1991) project which was created expressly for this occasion.
The exhibition, Masterpieces from the Guggenheim collection. From Picasso to Pollock manages to combine two unusual events: bringing together over one hundred and twenty masterpieces from the history of art in the first half of the twentieth century and bringing out the personalities of the two major collectors, on whom the foundations of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York were made. Thus, this exhibition presents the history of art interwoven between works of art and the story of a collection made up mainly by the legacies of Solomon R. Guggenheim (Philadelphia, 1861-New York, 1949) and his niece Peggy Guggenheim (New York, 1898-Padua, Italy, 1979), to which other funds and acquisitions made over the history of the institution have been added.
Image in movement biennial ’90 exhibits a selection of works made between 1988 and 1990 whose common denominator is the use of video, film, television or computer, both as a support, and as a medium. The exhibition brings together a wide and varied set of works that are involved in some way with the term "image in movement" in its most extensive sense.
Organised into three main areas (drawing, painting and sculpture) related to Alberto Giacometti's productions (Borgonovo, Switzerland, 1901 - Chur, Switzerland, 1966), the Alberto Giacometti exhibition is the first retrospective exhibition of this artist in Spain. This exhibition was proposed in order to contextualise his work and highlight his attachments and positioning from events and names that mark his artistic and life career, which not only impacted on his work but also allowed him to move outside of the tightly defined limits in art. For this reason the reciprocity between his artistic biography and his work, among which includes literature (notes, writings on his work and dairies), is focused on. On the other hand, and in addition to the previous premise, the exhibition develops a line of reading material that seeks to highlight the idea of the artist’s trade present in Giacometti, where drawing as a fundamental means stands out.
The purpose of this retrospective exhibition is to contextualise Antoni Tàpies' (Barcelona, 1923-2012) vast productions of sculptures and objects throughout his career, insisting on the unity and insolubility of all his work. For this, all works have been collected that were produced between 1946 and 1990 and which have as a common denominator the assemblage (assembly) as a process and technique, something which serves to support the three objectives of the exhibition, in the words of Gloria Moure, curator of the exhibition: "It highlights the radical, the compactness and the contemporaneity of Tàpies' work."
In the context of critical readings from art history, Memory of the future. Italian art from early avant-garde to post-war shows the approach to the first sixty years of twentieth century Italian art, under the premise that its continual renewal is rooted in tradition. The exhibition does not consider memory and the future as interchangeable terms, comparable or opposed, but defends the idea that modern Italian art arises from their mutual contamination and friction. Thus, Memory of the future breaks the chronologically linear art history story and allows more recent artistic and cultural memories to play a more active role. In this feedback of Italian art, the art of the future is assumed to be a tradition which is yet to be completed.
This Antonio Saura (Huesca, 1930 - Cuenca, 1998) exhibition, organised by the Musée Rath and Museum of Art and History in Geneva, is held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the presentation of Museo del Prado collections in Geneva in 1939.
This exhibition is one of the most extensive on Latin American art seen to date in Spain. At the Palacio de Velázquez over four hundred works have been displayed showcasing the artistic wealth in Latin American regions starting from the Wars of Independence against Spain (c. 1800-1821) until 1980.
La Asociación de Amigos del Reina Sofía was established in 1987 as the result of a group of entrepreneurs coming together to create a collection. The acquisitions of pieces is done as an individual initiative, but the character of the collection is public, it cooperates with institutions and is made available to as many citizens as possible.
Miquel Navarro (Mislata, 1945) is one of the predominant figures in what is known as “New Spanish Sculpture”. He begins his career in the Sixties with a pictorial style that he himself classifies as Expressionist and in 1974 he creates his first Ciudad (City), a collection of modular, repetitive and geometric forms grouped together in compositions that simulate urban networks and create cityscapes that are spatially positioned like a sculptural installation.
The Irish-born American painter Sean Scully (Dublin, 1945) starts to work with Abstraction at the beginning of the Seventies. He becomes interested in the humanisation of painting in opposition to formalist parameters; according to Scully his work can be summed up in the move “from the object line to the subject line”. The directions, represented by horizontal and vertical lines and the tensions they create, are at the heart of his production. This new geometrical approach, which moves away from the idea of purity and appropriates errors, reflects the troublesome relationship between the individual and the collective and opens up a new field of reflection, previously unknown to abstract painting.
The aesthetic approaches of the Equipo Crónica (Chronicle Team) (1964-1981) evoke the visual atmosphere of an era. The group materialises as one of the most coherent ideas from the figurative movement, which, at the beginning of the Sixties, attempts to leave informalist Spanish painting behind.
The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has been chosen by Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bonemisza as the venue for displaying one of his latest acquisitions: the painting Mata Mua (Autrefois) by Paul Gauguin(Paris, 1848 - Atuona, French Polynesia 1903).