The Collection of Museo Reina Sofía starts with the end of the 19th Century, addressing the conflicts between a dominant Modernity, understood as progress, and its multiple discontents, as an ideology under constant challenge both in the social and the political fronts, and the cultural and artistic ones. The avant-garde, in its reinvention of the subject, of the public and of the art world, becomes the symptom of the new 20th Century. While Cubism defines the modern, ephemeral and multiple gaze, Dada and Surrealism free the subject from the moral and social repression, giving free reign to desire and to the social and individual unconscious.
In response to the revolutionary nature of the avant-garde, the decades of the 1920's and the 1930's witness a number of returns, which involve a complex rereading of traditional genres. During the 30's, the avant-garde integrates experimentation and construction, the individual and the collective, becoming a poetic form of rewriting the present. Faced with the threat of Fascism, and its dogmatic version of history, there appears a link between the avant-garde and politics, which culminates in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 World Fair in Paris, and with Pablo Picasso's Guernica.