Modernity And Vanguard: Inseparable In Barcelona

Ana B. Remos

Barcelona celebrates its own artistic legacy through modernity and the avant-garde.

Like best friends, modernity and vanguard coexist in Barcelona, switching from proximity to distance and constantly redefining the city. For the first time in the Catalonian capital, an exhibition explores the relationship between modernity and avant-garde. Its title: Art, Two Points. Barcelona Lives Contemporary Art, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) with collaboration from La Caixa Foundation. It will be open to the public until January 6th, 2014.

ANTONI TÀPIES. Rinzen (detail), 1992-1993 .

The show connects different physical features in the city through two emblematic buildings: one is the icon of 20th century Catalan industrial modernism, the Caixa Forum, located at the foot of the Montjuïc, and the other is Richard Meier`s 1995 building, which houses MACBA, in the heart of the Raval neighborhood.

The exhibition is a journey through the art of the 20th century, observed from the perspective of contemporary life. “In some way, we have tried to construct an unusual story. It is not strictly chronological, but it establishes a relationship between works from different periods that speak of the same subject “, says Nimfa Bisbe, director of the Caixa Foundation collection.

1. JOAN RABASCALL. Atomic Kiss, 1968.
2. JUAN MUÑOZ. Conversation Piece (Hirshhorn), 1995.

The show avoids linear chronologies and is organized around thematic nuclei. At MACBA, for example, we visit the end of the 19th century until 1995 while the Caixa Forum exhibit is smaller. The latter focuses on the art produced after the 1980s, which is the intended end of the cycle.

MACBA’s message sprouts from two fundamental historical events: the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the International Exhibition of 1929. They have gathered 350 pieces by 90 artists like Ignasi Aballí, Joan Brossa, Eduardo Chillida, Tony Cragg, Pep Duran, Öyvind Fahlström, Richard Hamilton, Joan Hernandez Pijuan, Jenny Holzer, Muntadas, Juan Muñoz, Martha Rosler, Dieter Roth and Jeff Wall, among others.

ÖYVIND FAHLSTRÖM. Sitting… Blocks, 1966.

Caixa Forum shows us “two types of works: those that arise from existentialist and introspective spirits—and in some cases mystic— and still address elements of transformation within the society, and others that renounce utopia and speak of identity and gender differences. According to the person in charge of the collection, they also cover “trauma and pain, and question the bourgeois and male dominated aesthetic discourse of the West, which has been prevalent in modern times”. Art, Two Points. Barcelona Lives Contemporary Art delivers a compendium of 55 works from 35 artists, including installations created by Joseph Beuys and Jannis Kounellis.

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