The hyper-realistic jewels of Borja and Blanca Thyssen shine in the museum

'Self-portrait near the Oculus at the World Trade Center' (2017), by Richard Estes. / Museo Thyssen

They exhibit eight works from their collection signed by geniuses of the genre such as Richard Estes or Charles Bell. The museum provides advice on their purchases to the couple who have already acquired a large canvas by Alex Katz that will be displayed in its rooms

Miguel Lorenzo

Slowly but steadily, Borja y Blanca and Thyssen-Bornemisza strengthen and increase their presence and ties with the public museum, of which Baroness Carmen Thyssen's son is already a patron. Months after the renewal of the rental contract for the collection of Tita Cervera to the Spanish State –97.5 million for 15 years– her son and her daughter-in-law exhibit her hyper-realistic jewels in the public museum.

There are eight spectacular pieces, some in large format and signed by geniuses of the genre such as Richard Estes or Charles Bell. It is a delicate camera show that will be on the bill until January 15, 2023, and curated by Guillermo Solana, chief curator of the museum.

It opens with two New York views, a more classic one, 'People's Flowers' (1971) and a more recent one, 'Self-portrait near the Oculus at the World Trade Center' (2017), both by the most iconic representative of American hyperrealism, Richard Estes ( 1932), an artist of whom the museum already offered a retrospective in 2007.

There is a still life, 'Tropical Nights' (1991), by Charles Bell (1935-1995), who, like Estes, belongs to the first generation of the movement. 'The 49 with Broadway' (2019). is a suggestive urban view of Don Jacot (1949-2021). In 'Lucky Dragon' (2009) Bertrand Meniel (1961) paints a corner of Chinatown in San Francisco with a fascinating level of detail. 'Bunny in the corner' (2019) is a still life by Roberto Bernardi (1974). The exhibition closes with 'The Path' (2019) and 'Schweppes' (2022), both by Raphaella Spence (1978).


Born in the United States in the 1960s, the hyperrealist movement emerged as a drift from 'Pop Art' and was named 'Photorealism' by the gallery owner Louis K. Meisel. Based on the pictorial reproduction of photographic originals, "at the same time it refers us to great precedents in the history of art", according to the curator. "Urban landscapes, panoramic views of cities or suburban settings, connect with the tradition of Italian vedutismo of the eighteenth century," explains Solana. "In still life, the dominant references are 17th-century Dutch still life and late 19th-century American trompe l'oeil painting," he adds.

'Tropical Nights' (1991), by Charles Bell (1935-1995); 'Bunny in the corner' (2019) by Roberto Bernardi, and 'People's Flowers' (1971), by Richard Estes. / Museo Thyssen

Blanca and Borja have consulted Thyssen about their recent acquisitions, some of which have already been installed in the museum's rooms: from a splendid Cubist still life by María Blanchard (1918) to a canvas by Francis Picabia from his series of transparencies (1925- 1927), or a large-format painting by Julian Opie (2014) or the aforementioned self-portrait by Richard Estes at ground zero in New York (2017).

On the occasion of the Alex Katz retrospective last summer, Blanca and Borja acquired a large canvas by the North American artist ('Vivien', 2016), previously selected to appear in the exhibition and which will soon be exhibited in the halls of the public museum.

Blanca and Borja Thyssen-Bornemisza "have long felt a passion for art and especially for modern and contemporary painting," they explain from the museum. “They have collected so far very discreetly, away from the public eye. But coinciding with the thirtieth anniversary of the Thyssen "the couple has decided to open their collection to the public in our museum."