Free Unions: Avant-garde Gatherings

Activities on the Collection

Tuesday, 26 April 2022 - 7pm

Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior registration by filling out the following form until 25 April

Registration closed

Meeting Point: Sabatini Building, Floor 2, Room 201.01
50 people
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía
Free Unions
Inside the framework of
Leopoldo Amigo, Cecilia, Carmen Cecilia Piñero, Julio César Huertas, Ruben Coll, Julio Estrada, Ana and Verónica Gonçalves Kröger (Néffer Kröger Archive), Laurie-Anne Laget, Juan Manuel Bonet, Carlos Pérez, Olga Sevillano, Archivo de Músicos Disidentes Mexicanos (Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM), Editorial La Felguera, Fonoteca Nacional de México, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (proyecto I+D ref. HAR2008-04687/ARTE) and Universitat Politècnica de València.

Free Unions is a series of events, tours and activations that take place in the rooms of Communicating Vessels. Collection 1881–2021, the new rehang of the Museo Reina Sofía Collection. The programme is made up of different thematic strands, the title alluding to the poem Free Union (1931) by André Breton in its definition of psychic automatism as an alternative to rationalism. The transgressive spirit of that poem, which takes apart rational discourse through a lexical juxtaposition to generate other relationships and significations, governs this public programme, in which recitals, readings, debates, performances and actions in these rooms transgress the aura of the white cube.

The first of these events, Avant-garde Gatherings, is activated in rooms 201.01, 201.02 and 201.03. Holy Bohemia. Madrid, Paris, Barcelona and Room 202.03. Stridentopolis. An Urban Utopia, in which a fin de siècle cuplé and a series of machine-like, phonetic sound concerts on these early avant-garde movements are performed. This drift seeks to retrieve the sounds, attitudes and different forms of experiencing the city that shared time and space with this early bohemia via cuplés. The cuplé was conceived as a music genre with a double form: at once iconoclastic, transgressive and sexual and with empowered and feminist lyrics, as well as a mise en scène linked to the absurdism and nonsensicality of Dadaism and its cabaret scenes.

The second part of the programme approaches music and sound poetry in outlying historical avant-garde movements, such as Vibrationism and Ultraism in Spain and Stridentism in Mexico, movements which reflect on sound and modernity and hold a prominent place in the new arrangement of the Museo’s Collection.

This programme resituates such movements from the music and poetry they generated, in parallel to the visual arts, now exhibited in the Museo’s rooms to initiate other dialogues.


Tuesday, 26 April 2022 – 7pm
First part. A Sicaliptic, Ultraist Bohemian Drift

In homage to all those stars from a forgotten constellation who sang about daily life and urban advances during the long Silver Age.

“The modest and timid writers saw in that woman (La Chelito) a comrade in the struggles against a dark present. They would all break down the walls of boredom [...]”.

Ramón Gómez de la Serna, “The Globe and Discovery of La Chelito”, 1930

This drift retrieves the sounds, attitudes and different forms of city living that shared time and space with the bohemia of the Silver Age. Víctor Fuentes ensured that there were three native promotions of bohemians. The rehang of the Museo Reina Sofía Collection is traversed by the second, Holy Bohemia in Madrid, Paris and Barcelona, and the third, where poets from El movimiento V. P. emerged with incendiary words, mocking grins, nihilistic intentions, rebellious gestures and futurist brains. Thus, they journey through the exhibition rooms singing the cuplés that show the other side of the same reality with malice, cunning and implausible equilibrium, the worst ulterior motive and joking around: the predictable ending to the film La revoltosa (The Troublemaker, Florián Rey, 1924) contrasts with the lyrics of Guasa viva (Living Humour), a satire on marriage; those women who “lived the wrong life” — an allusion to the book by Constancio Bernaldo de Quirós from 1901 — demand their place in the pantheon of Madrid’s underworld, the coils of smoke from their cigarettes recalling a time of sensual pleasure and the right to sexual enjoyment; Paris arrives with its light and inspiration; Félix Limendoux, a holy bohemian, invents the term that gives meaning to a large part of the musical production from the time: “the sicalipsis”.

By way of cuplés and concerts that are part of the first programme, these gallant, frivolous and chic women, half epileptic, half syphilitic, gift Picasso a “frivolous queen” and Hermen Anglada Camarasa a Cocaine Tango. Exalted voluptuousness, impotent energies and intoxicated flowers lead to a renewed bohemia, where old young poets and young old poets write a manifesto, publish a magazine and try, unsuccessfully, to provoke a scandal. The voltaic eyes and telescopic legs of new female beauty announce the true “pure ultraism”, and the wonderful poetic dresses of Sonia Delaunay (Sofinka Modernuska) allow poems to be performed now and always.

Felipe Orejón. Guasa viva (Living Humour)
A creation by Laura Inclán, La Verbeníssima, 2022, based on the premiere by Carmen Flores, 1920

Félix Garzo (lyrics) and Joan Viladomat (music). Fumando espero (Smoking, I Wait)
A creation by Aldegunda Vergara, the cuplé Goddess, 2022, based on the premiere by Pilar Arcos, 1922

Remar y Eddy (lyrics) and Laura Inclán (music). La reina frívola (The Frivolous Queen)
A creation by Laura Inclán, La Verbeníssima, 2022, based on the premiere by Consuelo Hidalgo, 1923. Version set to music by La Verbeníssima in the absence of the original score.

Amichatis (lyrics) and Juan Viladomat (music). Tango de la cocaína (Cocaine Tango)
A creation by Aldegunda Vergara, the cuplé Goddess, 2022, based on the premiere by Ramoncita Rovira, 1926

Joaquín Marino (lyrics) and M. Font de Anta (music). ¡¡Ultraísmo puro!! (Pure Ultraism!!)
A creation by Laura Inclán, La Verbeníssima, 2022, based on the premiere by Amalia de Isaura, 1922

Gallant and sicaliptic cuplé singers: Laura Inclán, La Verbeníssima, and Aldegunda Vegara, the cuplé Goddess
Piano: Patricia Pérez
Poetic garment: Drina Marco
Programme: Gloria G. Durán (University of Salamanca)

Segunda parte. Concierto vibracionista y estridentista

In homage to the vibrationist-ultraist composer Carmen Barradas (1888–1963) and the centenary of her piano recital in the Ateneo de Madrid (1922–2022)

“This is my sister, a spiritual figure and an evasive Russian student, English feminist and Polish or Austrian Pianist”.
Rafael Barradas

This concert spotlights the music and sound poetry of outlying historical avant-garde movements, such as Vibrationism and Ultraism in Spain and Stridentism in Mexico, which reflect on sound and modernity and play a prominent role in the rearrangement of the Collection. From Vibrationism and Ultraism, the music of composer Carmen Barradas is performed, an artist who spent a long period in the shadow of her brother, the painter Rafael Barradas, and whose contribution to Spanish avant-garde art is only just being appreciated now. In 1920, the co-founder of Ultraism, Guillermo de Torre, pointed to her as a unique representative of the “musical ramification” of the movement. Consequently, the concert means to grant recognition and pay homage to the piano recital she performed in the Ateneo de Madrid in 1922. The music is accompanied by the recital of phonetic Ultraist poems released in the same era.

Ultraism also influenced other Latin American avant-garde movements, for instance Mexican Stridentism (1921–1927), the uniqueness of which was based on carrying out a political projection in social and cultural practice. This was made possible by the participation of Stridentists inside Heriberto Jara’s government in the State of Veracruz (1924–1927), rebaptising, among other initiations, the capital, Xalapa, as Stridentopolis. The concert is performed in the room sharing the same name — Room 202.03. Stridentopolis. An Urban Utopia, relating the texts from magazines and books displayed to the visual works exhibited. As an epilogue to the movement and concert, a total artwork joins a mask-megaphone sculpture by Stridentist Germán Cueto, the verbal music of Michel Seuphor and the noise sounds of Futurist Luigi Russolo, carried out inside the framework of the exhibition Cercle et Carré (1930) in Galerie 23 in Paris. 

Vibrationism (1917–1920) y ultraism (1918–1926)

Carmen Barradas. Cajita de music (Little Music Box)
Piano, ca. 1915

Carmen Barradas. Fabricación (Manufacturing)
Piano and MIDI version for factory noise, 1922

Rafael Barradas. Bonanitingui
Vibrationist drawing, 1917

Xabier Bóveda. El tranvía (The Tram)
Phonetic poem, 1919

Carmen Barradas. Espera el coche (Waiting for the Car)
Piano and bell, 1923

Carmen Barradas. Poema de una calle (Nocturno) [Poem of a Street] (Night-time)
Piano, 1919

Lucía Sánchez Saornil. Panoramas urbanos (espectáculo) (Urban Landscapes) (Spectacle)
Poem, 1921

Francisco Vighi. Celestiales fuegos artificiales (Celestial Fireworks)
Poem, 1920

Carmen Barradas. Piratas (Pirates)
Piano, 1923. Unfinished manuscript, based on a text by Ultraist José de Ciria y Escalante

Carmen Barradas. Taller mecánico (Mechanical Workshop)
Piano, 1928. Unfinished manuscript

Jacobo Sureda. Concinación (Harmonious)
Phonetic poem, 1926

Fernando María Milicua. A caballo, río y Martín Pescador (Horseback, River and Kingfisher)
Phonetic poem, 1925

Rafael Cansinos Assens. Dada medical (Medical Dada)
Unpublished from Jacques Doucet’s Literary Library. Homage to the failed Ultra-Dada festival, 1921

stridentism (1921–1927)

Manuel Maples Arce. Irradiador estridencial (Stridentist Irradiator)
Calligram, 1923

José Pomar. Piano percusivo para Preludio y fuga rítmicos (Percussive Piano for Rhythmic Prelude and Fugue)
Piano extract with drumstick and piece of wood, 1932

Kyn Taniya. Números (Numbers)
Radiophonic poem, 1924

Xavier Icaza. Panchito Chapopote
Book extract, 1926

Stridentist-Futurist-Geometric Abstraction Epilogue

Germán Cueto with Michel Seuphor and Luigi Russolo. Máscara-megáfono (Mask-Megaphone)
Verbal and noise music, 1930

Piano: Patricia Pérez
Voice: Jesús Ge
MIDI: Leopoldo Amigo and Miguel Molina
Mask-megaphone: Paco Benavent
Radio-head: Rosa Mira
Programme: Miguel Molina Alarcón (Universitat Politècnica de València) and José Luis Espejo