Both flamenco, conceived as modern popular culture, and the artistic avant-garde arise during the late nineteenth century. The aim of this exhibition is to review for the first time the position of flamenco within the frame of visual culture, especially its relationship of mutual influence with avant-garde art and modernity.
Ester Partegàs’ (La Garriga, 1972) career began to take shape outside Spain with good critical reception, a momentum which facilitated the presentation of her projects in our country. Since her first exhibitions in the late nineties, Partegàs has developed a theme that explores the urban landscape of the consumer society. A multidisciplinary artist, she easily moves between drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, although in the formal development of her work, volumetric and spatial aspects persist which lead to a definition of the artist as a sculptor. In many of her pieces, Partegàs expresses her interest in the power of the word and its confrontation with the realm of the image. In this way the artist rearranges advertising messages and proposes an unnerving reading of public billboards or covers the heads of passers-by with branded bags, nullifying their identity. At other times she places the spectator in the waiting room of an airport and thus represents a 'no place' to nowhere.
During the last fifteen years, photography has gained a renewed vitality thanks in part to its use by many artists who do not call themselves photographers, but simply use this medium to build and develop a new artistic syntax. Since conceptual artists in the Sixties began to use photography to document and register, or as a contributing element, in their projects, actions and performances, this medium began to change the direction the discipline itself had imposed. In this way it freed itself from formal ties and orientated itself in other directions, until becoming a new artistic path along which different ways of critical thinking of reality circulated. The emergence in the mid-sixties of cibachrome, which introduced sizes and colour qualities hitherto unknown, and the recent shift from analogue to digital photography has opened technical possibilities reminiscent of the experiments that took place between 1834 and 1851, a key time in the origins of photography.
Andy Goldsworthy (England, 1956) is one of the most brilliant exponents of the generation after the emergence of Land Art. Since this trend emerged in the mid-sixties, Land Art takes on nature as sculptural material, interacting with landscape’s changing scene. The generation of artists to which Goldsworthy belongs have followed these channels to explore a natural poetry from a profound reflection on form, matter, energy, space and time.
Paula Rego (Lisbon, 1935) is one of the most important figurative painters on the international scene and one of the most lucid and combative artistic voices that has emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Rego's artistic production is rooted in personal experiences and memories, in sinister fantasies and in the history of art and literature. In the early fifties she moves to England to study at the Slade School of Fine Art and adopts London as her primary residence.
Gustavo Torner (Cuenca, 1935) is a self-taught artist. Deeply immersed in the world of culture, he stand out in the vast Spanish panorama during the Sixties by the wealth of material he uses in his work; full of formal and chromatic freedom. Along with Fernando Zóbel and Gerardo Rueda they establish the Escuela Conquense, one of the first initiatives in Spain, during the Sixties to introduce the new currents of modern art, with the founding of the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca as a major initiative, Torner collaborated there since its creation.
Amy Cutler’s (New York, USA, 1974) work manifests in meticulous drawings and watercolours; with them she recreates a fascinating universe inhabited by women, in which -on an allegorical, surreal and feminist level- she plans certain founding ideas of a new world. Faced with the proliferation of digital drawing, Cutler has distinguished herself with manual work, increasingly polished, precise and conceptually more complex. The artist recreates female imagery made up of fantasy stories, similar to folktales that have been transmitted orally and written. In her work there is the intention of anthropological reconstruction with domestic heroines in a process of adaptation to the environment. Her protagonists are always women who appear in an organised group, working or in transit from a trip, pioneers or colonising powers of a world waiting to be discovered, achieving a very personal poetry, which circulates with an artistic greatness, either through prosaic or real scenes, or also through dreamlike scenes.
Carlos Pazos’ (Barcelona, 1949) exhibition ironically traces over thirty years of an artist’s career whose work is inserted within the frame of aesthetics, silence and emptiness. This reality is included in Pazos’ work as emptiness, there is no reference of art and the object always refers to fiction; for this reason the tension between collage and the representation of emptiness is one of the most interesting contributions of this artist. Facing the failure of modern utopia and the questioning of any system of representation, Pazos chooses to hide behind the mask of Narcissus, escaping in the accumulation of objects and merging with the abject.
Luis Gordillo (Seville, 1934) begins to become known on the national art scene in the Sixties when he establishes himself as one of the pioneers in the restoration of the treatment of figuration and the use of colour, inventing an artistic language that becomes a reference to a later generation of artists. His aesthetic proposal questions itself on the reflection of the subject, the relevance of the process faced with the product and the theory of perception. His work and creative process define an open artistic journey, leaving traces of a continuous challenge with which he seeks clarity in the expression of his inner tensions.
The last seven years of the life of Charles Édouard Jeanneret-Gris’, better known from the 1920s as Le Corbusier (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, 1887 - Provence, France, 1965), were bound by deep ties of friendship and cooperation with the Swiss Heidi Weber, owner of an interior design gallery in Zurich.
Coinciding with the festival of photography PHotoEspaña 2007, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía proposes a selective journey through photographs from its Collection. The selection of photographs shown in five different spaces and that have been established according to a reflexive link between the subjective perception of the spectator and the return of the look in the image.
Carlos Franco’s (Madrid, 1951) activity as an engraver has been carried out in a very restricted environment and produced through private commissions, which makes him not very well known by the general public, except for his etching illustrations for The Aeneid by Virgil. However nothing better explains the artist's technical strategy than this activity, with its different procedures and its endless potential for overlap and juxtaposition.
Alberto Peral (Santurce, 1966) belongs to the generation of artists who emerged in the early nineties and was a protagonist in the renewal of Spanish art at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Since his first solo exhibition at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona in 1992 until today, he has created a journey of great conceptual consistency and a desire for formal experimentation that has led him to travel through a wide range of media, from drawing, photography or sculpture, to installation and video. With them he proposes a thrilling encounter between the poetic beauty of the most simple and essential shapes and the symbolic power they contain.
German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib (Metzinger, Germany, 1950) began his career in the mid-seventies, after finishing medical school. He belonged to a family who had cultivated asceticism and made frequent trips to India and other Asian countries. He became interested in religion and mysticism from an early age which led him to delve into Eastern cultures and languages and to find, in art, the knowledge and the means to express his worldview. From then onwards he develops a work that is characterised by high purity and formal austerity. He uses natural materials with a strong symbolic and vital load, like beeswax, milk, pollen and rice, with which he intends to bring together art, nature and spirituality.
Movement and speed as a reference of modernity and the machine as a symbol of technological progress have been around since early avant-garde artistic discourse. But it is in the Paris of the Sixties where, focused around the Denise René gallery, a group of artists, many of them Latin-American, give programmatic basis to Kinetic Art. From this moment the kinetic factor is begun to be understood as a trend that seeks expression in the movement of the creative arts through various channels: shaping an illusion of a virtual movement in the optic impression of the spectator that does not really exist; inducing the spectator to move in space, to mentally organise the reading of a particular sequence, or performing real movements of images through the use of motors.
Darío Villalba (San Sebastián, 1939) is a benchmark reference in the development of art after the period of informalist abstract that developed in Spain in the late fifties. In the mid-sixties Villalba develops a very personal and radical language through the use of photography as artistic support. This unusual use of photography distances him from the Pop Art and Conceptual Art trend of using image. Villalba decides to adopt the photographic frame as a painting, as a support suitable for collecting emotions and impulses that he needs to transmit, through paint strokes, fragmentation and modification of frames or hiding or revealing images. These images are taken from files or magazines, or from photographs taken by him; they are selected, fragmented and decontextualised, and used as an iconographic source, allowing him to break free from manual execution and become more involved in the intention than the action, always with a huge linguistic freedom.
Carmen Laffón (Seville, 1934) will exhibit in the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos after an extensive retrospective that the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía dedicated to her in 1992. The National Arts Award in 1982 and intellectual fellow at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) since 1989, Laffón is a figurative painter and sculptor. Her palette encompasses a range of sensual and luminous colours with which she is able to instantly capture the world and internalise it. Her work, produced mainly with charcoal, pastels and oil, includes portraits, still life, everyday objects and, most particularly, landscapes. Since the mid-nineties Laffón brilliantly explores the world of sculpture. Her works are in such major collections as MoMA, the Juan March Foundation and the Bank of Spain.
This project, created specifically for the Palacio de Cristal, presents pieces from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Collection in a context that explores the connections and interaction between the pieces exhibited and the exhibition space. Participating artists -Cristina Iglesias, Mario Merz, Susana Solano and Per Barclay- use different artistic vocabularies to place the spectator before structures that relate to living space, expressing introspective and uniquely poetic architectural worlds.
Since 1968 Chuck Close (Monroe, United States, 1940) has been creating stunning large portraits from photographs taken of people’s faces. Close graduated from Yale University and worked as an art teacher at the University of Massachusetts. His work was first exhibited at the MOMA, New York in 1973. In 1967 Close abandons his Abstract Expressionist painting style which he inherited from his college years. In the late sixties, along with other contemporary artists he begins to subvert modern abstraction transforming it into figuration and paving the way for what is now known as Postmodernism.
This exhibition is the first one dedicated to studying the role that artists played in the creation of magazines published during the Spanish Civil War. During those years magazines were the most important means of spreading ideologies; authentic laboratories that created propaganda which would be determinants in the formation of a wartime culture. The magazines attracted writers, artists, photographers and typographers, engaged in an essentially experimental, creative activity.