The exhibition El arte sucede. Origen de las prácticas conceptuales en España (1965-1980) (Art Happens: The Origin of Conceptual Practices in Spain 1965-1980) takes its title from James Whistler's saying “Art happens”. Whistler was an habitué to Stéphane Mallarmé's circle and worked in close proximity to his line of thought, the reflections of which contributed to establishing the basis of the interdisciplinary and supranational conception of art. The exhibition explores the appearance and development of Conceptual Art in Spain, bringing together an anthology of works realised by diverse artists with their own traits, linked by their experiences and interests whilst also sharing approaches with their international counterparts. These traits are defined by the multifarious relationship with popular culture, the social, the political, the subjective and the body itself.
El arte sucede aims to synthetically reconstruct the landscape of transgression of artistic behaviour that materialised in Spain from the second half of the Sixties to the end of the Seventies; a time that craved freedom, with art practices being understood as a space of questioning and exploration, a space in which a new sensibility flourished that represented a break-away from traditional languages.
In the period covered by the exhibition, the transforming potential of everyday and natural materials, or the relational aspects between minimal, primary structures that soon led to diverse forms of Actionism are highlighted. Gradually, there was a move towards a cross-section of disciplines, the integration of mechanisms related to philosophy, sociology, psychoanalysis, politics, technology, popular culture, science, architecture, music and language in the creative process.
The ideas and starting points stemmed from lived experiences, materials and places in close proximity, the search for areas that were capable of releasing renewed vitality in thought that was in keeping with particular purposes and sensibilities, and the same longing to bring art and life closer together. There was the increased use of technology in this period among the artists: video, film, audiovisual projection, photography and reel-to-reel tape recorders - modern tools with enormous potential. These mediums could be used to recall ephemeral actions, creating documentaries or fiction from reality as well as experimenting with images with no references other than the images themselves in transformation. These new mediums helped to provide a representation of space, movement, and most importantly time, that were previously unheard of in plastic arts.
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