Creative, literary and artistic magazines that arose during the Spanish crisis in 1898 and at the start of the Civil War are the core theme of this exhibition that recognises their crucial role in the development of Spanish art history. They are magazines that serve as platforms from which artistic renewal springs and are the stage for the birth of modern Spanish criticism.
During those years Spanish art describes a journey which starts in late Symbolism and participates in the rise and decline of the avant-gardes (Cubism, Futurism, Ultraism, Dadaism and Surrealism). Later, it continues towards "art nouveau", the sort which tries to connect with the aesthetic practice and mind-set of Modernism and finds itself close to the ideas of the so-called "return to order". In this sense, the role assumed by these magazines -and which constitutes the basis of their success- is to make what is modern and new in their pages visible at all times.
The plurality of the places of origin should be noted from this variety of group magazines and trends. As well as Madrid and Barcelona, Grecia, was published in Seville; the Sur y Litoral magazines published in Malaga; in Reus: La columna del foc; in Sitges: L´Amic de les Arts; Brisas, in Palma de Mallorca; in Valladolid: Dddooss; in Valencia: Nueva Cultura; the magazine Verso y prosa, in Murcia; in Cadiz: Isla; in Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Gaceta de Arte; Alfar, in La Coruña; in Oviedo: Ultra; y Carmen, in Santander. This all indicates a willingness to decentralise artistic creation and critical work.
These core magazines that are spread throughout the country serve as a story that brings together critical and literary production, as well as serving as a meeting point for the international distribution of Spanish art. The high rate of literary production can be understood as a phenomenon of escapism: art and culture are escape routes into modern cosmopolitan life, removed from the social and political reality which carries the structural and ideological crises that made up the “generation of 98” and rewrote the near future.
In parallel to what happens on a political level, art and magazines become the point of reflection and spokesperson for contemporary regionalist and nationalist conflicts. This is the case of Noucentisme and the criticism of art developed by Eugenio D'Ors, or that of Giménez Caballero using the Gaceta Literaria. Ramón Gómez de la Serna used Prometeo and Salvador Dalí y Sebastià Gash had their Manifiesto Antiartístico Catalán.
In this sense, the magazines are the scene of controversy, from which the cultural crisis is declared as well as the lack of initiatives for a necessary regeneration of the country. From them a rejection of the avant-garde is requested or the acceptance of aesthetic principles that identify with the modern times.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao (January 23 - March 16, 1997)