Naturalezas españolas (Spanish Nature) is an historical review of the most significant art movements in Spain spanning four decades and analysed from the monographic perspective of nature. The common thread of the exhibition is divided into the following sections: “Facing Nature”, “With Nature”, “On Nature”, “Beyond Nature”, five propositions representing the five different models between art and nature.
The exhibit brings together almost two hundred works by distinguished Spanish artists, leading figures in the successive avant-garde movements in Spain from 1940 to 1987. The theme of nature has an impact on the avant-garde - substantiated here by virtue of paintings, drawings and sculptures as well as the immediate association of nature with traditional art genres, for instance landscape and still-life - and even persists when these movements dissolve. Artistic tradition in nineteenth century Spanish landscape painting remains implicit in this exhibit as it contemplates the shifts in contemporary art in its diverse relationship with nature from the Forties onwards
The exhibition gets underway, in strict chronological order, with the post-war search for anti-rhetorical themes - landscape and still-life - developed by the School of Vallecas, the figure of Benjamín Palencia and the School of Madrid, with landscape the overriding theme. Artists such as Maruja Mallo, Pancho Cossío, José María Ucelay and Juan Manuel Caneja appear as transmitters of the avant-garde movements that challenge “official art” during the Forties. Post-cubism, metaphysical Italian painters and new Expressionist trends inspire the works present in the section of the exhibition entitled “Facing Nature (1949-1950)”.
Dau al set and the El Paso group embody the radical change in the position of the artist when facing nature; by introducing elements taken from the natural environment, Gustavo Torner, Antoni Tàpies, Josep Guinovart and Gerardo Rueda are the main artists to fall under the heading “With Nature (1950-1960)”. They are accompanied by Ràfols Casamada and Mompó, representatives of lyrical abstraction, who, in contrast the previous artists, strip their subject matter of nature.
The explosion of Pop Art, Hyperrealism, Neo-Concrete art, Op-Art and geometrical art during the Seventies brings with it a new kind of anti-naturalist and technically-oriented optimism that gives rise to the section entitled “Against Nature (1960-1970)”, which includes, among others, Eusebio Sempere, Andreu Alfaro, Eduardo Arroyo and Equipo Crónica, Eduardo Úrculo, Alfredo Alcaín, Rosa Torres and Luis Gordillo.
With the Seventies comes a total identity crisis in art, calling into question the belief in progress; the international avant-garde movements of the time, Conceptual Art and Minimal Art, pass under the radar for Spanish art, which is more preoccupied with a return to the exploration of nature. Descriptions such as Ecological Art and Land Art come to the fore and dominate installations around that time. Adolfo Schlosser, Eva Lootz, Mitsuo Miura, Miguel Ángel Blanco and Luis Canelo appear under the title “On Nature (1970-1980)”.
The exhibition finishes with “Beyond Nature (1980-1987)”, whereby the eclecticism of the Eighties brings together multiple pictorial styles. Guillermo Pérez Villalta, Carlos Alcolea, Manuel Quejido, José María Sicilia and Guillermo Paneque are just some of the artists to look back over past history while also incorporating the most recent avant-garde movements.