The Reina Sofía continues to open new spaces that correspond to its gradual reordering from both a conceptual and historical point of view to encompass contemporary art from unpublished perspectives that make us reflect on the social and ideological processes that have been sustaining the different creative movements . Now it is the turn of the vanguards, in this fourth episode in which cities, exhibitions and magazines take on special relevance.
How were the avant-gardes generated in Spain? What synergies were established between the different artists and their intellectual positioning when configuring their style? This is what this new route proposes through different halls, in which the clash between the bourgeoisie and the people are revealed, between the need for political vindication through culture and the ways of communicating all these new aesthetic approaches from the graphic and informative point of view.
Modernity cannot be understood in our country without thinkers like Carl Einstein, without the theories of George Bataille, without the contribution of gallery owners such as Joan Dalmau. Nor without establishing ties with the cinema, with Luis Bunuel and ‘The Golden Age’, without the workers and union struggle, without the vindication of the folk roots. All these apparently disparate elements are key to understanding the works of Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris.
Art was no longer exclusive to the elites, now an attempt was made to bring the public closer to discuss ideas and new forms of artistic and vindictive thought. And it was done through posters, shop windows, fancines and other visual consumer items.
‘The territories of the avant-garde’ begins at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, a period of convulsed transformation towards a new sensibility. Architecture once again acquires a crucial role in the museum, for example, through numerous materials that document the vision of Idelfonso Cerdá, architect of the urban reform of Barcelona in the 19th century and who created the current Eixample neighborhood, or the role of popular initiatives such as The Flower of Maig, a cooperative that fought for housing and a decent environment in the Poblenou neighborhood.
Shelter from World War I
Catalonia is present throughout the itinerary in a persistent way. In the First World War it served as a refuge from the international conflict, which is why many artists settled in Barcelona, such as Robert and Sonia Delaunay, forming an eccentric commune that contributed to revitalize the cultural fabric of the city, which was joined by figures such as that of Arthur Cravan, present through the mythical poster of the boxing match that he played against world champion Jack Johnson.
The room dedicated to Josep Dalmau, responsible for introducing all these movements in our territory, collects his famous exhibition around Francis Picavia, as well as works by Rafael Barradas, María Blanchard, Juan Gris, Joan Miró or Salvador Dali, whose works are disseminated depending on their influences, as occurs with ‘The invisible man’, which we found in the Einstein room due to the reference of the cubist thinker in an interview that appeared in the Catalan newspaper Le Meridian, or ‘The sterile efforts’ and ‘Millet’s architectural Angelus’ in the room dedicated to the surrealist inspiration of George Bataille confronted with the slope defended by André Breton, to which the painter would be assigned with works such as ‘The face of the great masturbator‘. All these communicating vessels are in constant conflict and given the immersive nature of the exhibition within each stream, we can understand and identify their characteristics and ideology.
There is also room for Brassai’s photography, Dona Maar and Man Ray, as well as anti-bourgeois manifestos that take us to the International Surrealist Exhibition of Tenerife, promoted by Oscar Dominguez and supported by Breton and in which they participated Juan Ismael and Maruja Mallo with his ‘Antro de fossils’.
The tour, made up of more than 400 works, culminates with a tribute to the Spanish night and popular art in which the Pedagogical Missions, La Barraca, the Student Residence and the influence of flamenco through the motif of the guitars and fans.