Alberto Sánchez (Toledo, 1895 - Moscow, 1962) - known as Alberto - is one of the preeminent artists in the Spanish avant-garde movement. He starts out in the School of Vallecas alongside Benjamín Palencia, but moves away after the Civil War, first to Valencia and then later to the Soviet Union. Despite producing a large part of his work in exile, where he sees out the rest of his days, Alberto is a key figure in Spanish art.
This extensive retrospective exhibition brings together two hundred works, including sculptures, drawings, paintings, sketches and significant documentary material. Furthermore, the works are also joined by: photographs, exhibition catalogues, poems dedicated to his work by friends such as Rafael Alberti, César María Arconada, Pablo Neruda, Luis Felipe Vivanco and Juan Rejano, and other personal objects belonging to the sculptor.
This exhibition reconstructs one of the artist's most emblematic sculptures: El pueblo español tiene un camino que conduce a una estrella (1937), created for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition in 1937. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía possesses a scale-model of the lost sculpture and has commissioned a life-size reproduction to be placed outside the main façade of the Museo building. Moreover, one recent acquisition is also present - a 1924 drawing published in the magazine from Lugo, Ronsel, whose whereabouts were previously unknown. Another similar example is the incorporation of a theatre curtain to the Collection that was created for La romería de los cornudos (1933) and represents a reference point from the School of Vallecas.
After settling in Russia the artist devotes his work to painting for the first time; from this period there are self-portraits that correspond to an agreement reached between him and his friend, the architect Luis Lacasa, stipulating that the artist must approach genres of landscape, portrait and still-life for his pictorial education.
The exhibition also includes a selection of watercolours, a technique fully mastered by Alberto, even though he is more frequently recognised for his sculptures. The contrast between the severity of the materials and the richness of the compositions he creates makes his sculpture work some of the most personal in 20th century art. The interplay between fullness and emptiness, his work with verticality and his characteristic incisions on surfaces form some of his most recognisable traits.
The exhibit displays pieces such as El Diego de la bandurria (1923-1925), Carretero vasco (1923-1925) and Maternidad (1929-1933), belonging to his Spanish period. His exile leads to his abandonment of sculpture until 1956, when he returns with renewed vigour. This stage is dominated by feminine representations and animals, for instance Mujer castellana (1956-58), La mujer de la estrella (1956-1957), Toros ibéricos (1957-1958) and Homenaje a las mujeres (1960-1961), all present in the exhibition.
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo (October 4 - December 9, 2001); Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona (January 8 - April 1, 2002)