Art and Tourism Imaginaries II

Spain Was Never Different. Art and Tourism from the 1960s Onwards

Wednesday, 12 June 2019 - 6pm
Nouvel Building, Protocol Room
Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía y TURICOM. The Tourist Experience: The Image, Body and Death in Leisure Culture, an interuniversity and interdisciplinary group based at the University of La Laguna, Tenerife (proyecto del MICINN PGC2018-093422-B-I00)
Joan Rabascall. Every Day a Fiesta, 1975
Joan Rabascall. Every Day a Fiesta, 1975

This activity constitutes the second edition of the annual series Art and Tourism Imaginaries, which explores the relationship between tourism imaginaries and visual arts in Spain from the 1960s onwards. The series is organised by the Museo, in collaboration with the interuniversity group TURICOM. The Tourist Experience: The Image, Body and Death in Leisure Culture, and endeavours to reflect on how mass tourism, as the industry of experience, is connected to the search for experience that has shaped art since the 1960s. This new edition focuses on and analyses the final stages of Francoism in Spain.   

The Stabilisation Plan of 1959 ushered in new economic and cultural politics that sought to validate Spain with the other Western countries in the context of the Cold War, with tourism a key driving force in the country’s modernisation. From the upper echelons of the State there was a plan to incorporate an impromptu dictatorship, inherited from the interwar Fascist movement, into a fully realised society of consumerism. The vital role of a significant share of Spanish territory becoming a tourist destination largely brings to light cultural contradictions: to some degree, Spain’s international image depended on the recreation of an “imaginary” of local traditions and popular customs, yet its artistic and cultural elites spurned this reality, aspiring to the importation, no less “imaginary”, of cosmopolitan modernity.

Historically, there have been close ties between tourism and the cultural consolidation of the nation state: the modern citizen largely formed through their travels around the country, taking in its landscapes, familiarising themselves with art and history in parks, museums, national exhibitions, and around monuments. Thus, the construction of cultural identity in late-Francoist Spain would be marked by ambivalence: the image of isolated, fossilized people standing outside history intensified – tourist-based exoticization attuned to the ideological imagery of the Regime. Equally, there was a yearning for modernisation and integration into the groundswell of globalisation, a desire which would be shared, paradoxically, by technocrats supporting the Regime and intellectuals and artists opposing it.

In fact, the co-occurrence between the last of the 1960s avant-garde movements and the spread of mass tourism is framed inside a shifting cycle: the move from the capitalism of production — manufactured objects — to the capitalism of consumerism – programmed experiences — with mass tourism the chief paradigm in the new industries of experience. Yet in the artistic manifestations of the time (happenings, performances, new artistic behaviours) there is an inclination leaning towards experience that entails a transformation of the artwork — the object — in events, actions, places and situations. Thus, the commercialisation of the tourist experience in mass culture occurred in parallel with the production of an art of experience in the period’s most radical avant-garde movements.

In Spain, this unique historical situation engendered so-called “paradoxical modernity”, the point of departure of this lecture series, which studies the link between the commercialisation of experience and the aestheticisation of experience in the final stages of Francoism.


Eugenia Afinoguénova is a professor of Spanish Literature and Cultural History at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA). Her most recent publication is El Prado: la cultura y el ocio (1819-1939) (Cátedra, 2019).

Vicente J. Benet is a professor of Audiovisual Communication at the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón and chief editor of Archivos de la Filmoteca. He is the author of books that include Las masas en el cine de entreguerras (MuVIM, 2008) and La cultura del cine (Paidós, 2008). 

José Díaz Cuyás is a professor of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the University of La Laguna. His most recent publications include the coordination of issue 10, on Art and Tourism, of the magazine Concreta; and “Movilizados por lo real: turistas, soldados, artistas” (on Marcel Broodthaers) in Architecture, Film Languages (Tabakalera, 2018).

Julián Díaz Sánchez is a professor of Art History at the University of Castilla La Mancha. He is the author of La oficialización de la vanguardia artística en la postguerra española [el informalismo en la crítica de arte y los grandes relatos] (UCLM, 1999) and La idea de arte abstracto en la España de Franco (Cátedra, 2013), among other works.

Yaiza Hernández Velázquez is a researcher and lecturer at the University of the Arts London, where she directs the MRes Art: Exhibition Studies course. She has also served as head of Public Programmes at MACBA and as director of CENDEAC.

Rogelio López Cuenca is an artist. He was a member of the former Agustín Parejo School direct action collective from 1982 to 1994, and has exhibited his work at IVAM, MACBA, MUSAC, CGAC, Artium and the Museo Reina Sofía, where his exhibition Keep Reading, Giving Rise is currently on view.


Art and Tourism in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection. Intervention by Chema González.

Fantasies of “Authentic” Spain: Exoticism, Local Authenticity and Extreme Experiences. Interventions by Eugenia Afinoguénova, Vicente J. Benet and Carmelo Vega.

Art as Lived Experience and the Production of New places of Experience Interventions by José Díaz Cuyás, Julián Díaz Sánchez and Yaiza Hernández Velázquez.

The Last Ism. An intervention and exhibition's Keep Reading, Giving Rise tour with Rogelio López Cuenca and Elo Vega.