Opening to the public at the Museo Reina Sofía
on Wednesday 30 November are the rooms devoted to the third section of the Museums Collection, which covers the period from 1962 to 1982. The Museums Collection is articulated around four areas corresponding to the key moments in the history of art, both Spanish and international, in the 20th and 21st centuries. Two of them have already been opened to the public. The first, exhibited on the second floor of the Sabatini Building, takes in the twenties and thirties, when the avant-gardes moved in the direction of greater commitment and antagonism. The second, presented a year ago under the title Is the War Over? Art in a Divided World (1945-1968), surveys the forties, fifties and sixties, and can be visited on the fourth floor.
Occupying some 2,200 square meters of the two exhibition areas in the Nouvel Building, the third section of the Collection is now presented under the title From Revolt to Postmodernity (1962-1982). In it are about 300 works, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, videos, photographs and documentary material. A substantial part of the work is seen here for the first time, since it includes recent acquisitions, donations and long-term loans that have not been shown before. In this respect, the Museum has made a great effort to fill important gaps in this part of the Collection, adding names essential to an articulation of the period.
The rooms devoted to this period will house work by artists like Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Hélio Oiticica, Luis Gordillo, Gerhard Richter, Pistoletto, Carl Andre, Hans Haacke, Eugènia Balcells, Eulalia Grau, Mario Merz, Marcel Broodthaers, Donald Judd, Moraza, Molero, Yvonne Rainer, Buren, Jo Spence, Guillermo Pérez Villalta, Carlos Alcolea, Carlos Leon, Esther Ferrer, Concha Jerez, George Brecht, Alberto Corazón, Colita, Nacho Criado and others.
In the twenty years covered by the newly presented work, world-changing events took place whose decisive factors were the growth of new technologies, the advance of consumerism, the processes of decolonization (materializing in nonconformist attitudes among young people and women) and the beginnings of globalization. Events like May 68, the economic crisis starting in 1973, the death of Franco, the transition to democracy and the start of globalization on an international scale are just some of the landmarks of this period, one of the most turbulent in the history of the 20th century, in Spain and elsewhere.
While this part of the Collection begins in the year of the war in Algeria and the Cuban missile crisis, and so belongs to the buildup to May 68, 1982 marks the end of the political transition in Spain and opens a decade dominated by figures like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and defined by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. These years are essential for an understanding of the world we live in, and many of the transformations of todays society have their origins in them.
The period also brought the definitive paradigm shift with regard to what had been considered art since the Renaissance. This was not only because the traditional division of the medium into painting and sculpture was finally overcome, but also because of the absence of the author. It is the turning point between modernity and postmodernity. In modernity the author lay at the centre, whereas it was now his death that was proclaimed. Artists also showed dissatisfaction with the isolation of the studio, reacting to a need to go out into the streets and interpellate their public.
The new paradigm also implies a radical response to an art understood as a western male practice, with the appearance of voices like those of feminism or tropicalism, or of others raised in protest and denunciation of a repressive social and political context, as in the case of the Latin American and Spanish dictatorships. Minimalism, conceptual art, arte povera, and practices in an expanded field (sculpture opening up to landscape, films shown in museums, etc.) are all characteristic of those years.
A fundamental role is played in the presentation of this part of the Collection by the long-term loans secured by the Museum through various agreements in order to lend coherence to the expository discourse. Special mention should be made of that of Javier Luz, which includes the material by Trama; that of Onnasch, with four works by George Brecht, one by Dieter Roth and another by Daniel Buren; and that of Vijande, which has made it possible to include several pieces by Luis Gordillo.
Above all, however, we must highlight the importance of the long-term loan of the Sonnabend Collection. Decisive artists of the second half of the 20th century, such as John Baldessari, Donald Judd and Bernd and Hilla Becher, can now be seen as part of the Collection thanks to the agreement subscribed recently between the Museo Reina Sofía and the estate of the celebrated gallerist and collector Ileana Sonnabend (Bucharest, 1914 - New York, 2007). The agreement also makes provision for other works by important artists to visit the rooms of the Museo Reina Sofía in the future.
The framework for such actions is the Museums policy of long-term loans, which allows it to fill the existing gaps in its Collection without costly investments in pieces that can in some cases reach exceedingly high values on the market, so putting them effectively beyond the institutions reach.
In the meantime, a number of the Museums new acquisitions are presented here for the first time. Among them are works by Hans Haacke, André Cadere, Luciano Fabro, Helio Oiticica, Juan Carlos Romero, Roberto Jacoby, Paz Muro, Concha Jerez, Eugenia Balcells, Raimundo Patiño, Herminio Molero, Nazario, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Angels Ribé, CADA, Colita, Miguel Trillo and Antón Patiño.