Interview with Tony Shafrazi
New York, 2019
Tony Shafrazi (Abadan, Iran, 1943), artist and art dealer. To the backdrop of the Vietnam War and its political and social impact in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States, Shafrazi explains the reasons behind his 1974 action protest against an anti-war icon such as Guernica.
Interview with Claude Picasso
Claude Ruiz Picasso (Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 1947), artist, film-maker and son of Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot. In this interview, Claude Picasso offers his view of the process to transfer Guernica to Spain following the death of his father in 1973: the conflictive relationship with Roland Dumas, executor of the artist’s will, his family’s grievance over the moral right of the work, and its installation in the Museo Reina Sofía.
Interview with Roland Dumas
Roland Dumas (Limoges, France, 1922), lawyer, politician and executor of Pablo Picasso’s will. Dumas was in charge of drafting the artist’s will with respect to Guernica, guaranteeing that both the painting and its preparatory works would only reach Spain once public liberties representative of democratic States were reinstated, and regardless of government.
The work of Marwan Rechmaoui (Beirut, 1964) is strongly tied to concerns, which surfaced among artists of his generation, with archiving and documenting the contemporary history of his country after the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). His work, primarily sculpture, is the product of experimentation with materials from the urban environment — concrete, plastic, rubber — and stems from long processes of research, whereby the artist vindicates maps as a tool for deconstructing meanings.
In this interview, Rechmaoui brings to light the importance of configuring urban space, symbolically, socially and politically, in our interpretation of the past. He plots a journey around pieces inspired by Beirut’s complex urbanism, such as Blue Building (2015), which is part of the Museo Reina Sofía Collection and which examines rampant urban development in a city carrying the memory of successive earthquakes, fires and wars. His installations, moreover, record the history of a city permanently being reconstructed and subjected to constant tensions, such as those resulting from the revolution which, in response to neoliberal policies over the past few decades, occupy Lebanon’s squares today.
There Is Nothing to Understand Here
A documentary on Elena Asins
The Museo Reina Sofía premieres an internally produced online documentary on the artist Elena Asins, resulting from research into the artist’s archive conducted over a two-year period, and assembling unpublished documents and unprecedented interpretations around one of the key figures in geometric abstraction and art as research since 1960.
Directed by Javi Álvarez and Olga Sevillano, the piece also features the participation of Gorka Alda, José Luis Alexanco, Sofía Barroso, Manuel Borja-Villel, Capi Corrales, Ignacio Gómez de Liaño, Luis Gordillo, Juan José Lasarte, Javier Maderuelo, Soledad Sevilla and Ian Triay.
The artistic production of Miriam Cahn (Basel, Switzerland, 1949) materialises with a strong influence from 1960s feminist and pacifist movements. For the artist, her work with drawing and painting is a bodily act with a performative quality, and since the start of her career in the 1970s the centrality of the body has been related to a growing awareness of feminism. For Cahn, art is politics and the imprint of issues related to contemporary society can be discerned in her oeuvre. Each gesture, movement and thought is “just as important” as the rest. The breadth of her work is traversed by her interest in important issues: feminist defence, war, violence, sexuality, family and death.
Moreover, the artist alludes to intersections and connections with the work Pablo Picasso produced during the Spanish Civil War. During the Yugoslav Wars, the media showed images of concentration camps, torture, and the rape of women and girls… their faces expressing the pain that made her think of the weeping women in Picasso’s work. Works that recount ethnic clashes between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia or the media’s use of contemporary armed conflicts as a spectacle.Inside the framework of:
Since the start of her career, Natalia Iguiñiz (b. Lima, 1973) has worked in close connection with different women’s collectives and feminist movements in her country. In this interview, she analyses issues that include how her projects approach the way in which the containment of women’s sexual and reproductive rights creates major tensions in the cultural and social context of Peru. Both in her solo work and as part of different artists’ collectives — with Sandro Venturo in La Perrera (The Kennel), or alongside Claudia Coca, and others, in Colectivo Sociedad Civil (Civil Society Collective) — her practice as a poster artist has evolved towards a more direct, first-person intervention in the city’s public space as she reflects on themes such as gender identity, violence against women, political denunciation during Alberto Fujimori’s term of office and inequality in civil society.Inside the framework of:
Interview with Luis Camnitzer
The work and thinking of Luis Camnitzer (Lübeck, Germany, 1937) is anchored in a comprehensive ethical awareness, which for this US-based Uruguayan artist gives meaning to artistic creation in his social context.
In his 1987 essay “Access to the Mainstream”, Camnitzer writes: “We’re primarily ethical beings who can tell right from wrong, fair from unfair, not only as individuals but in community contexts (…) Art becomes the instrument of choice for implementing these strategies.”
This interview looks over Camnitzer’s main ideas of Conceptualism, going back to the radicalism of his early work with the New York Graphic Workshop (NYGW) collective – grounded in ephemeral, word-based works – and elicits general reflections on his artistic mediums and the concepts of ethics and education that are patently linked to his creative activity. A special section is devoted to the idea of violence and a key work, Puerto Montt Massacre (1969), which belongs to the Museo’s Collection. In the work, Camnitzer approaches political content through signs, words and geometry, placing the spectator inside the work so that, rather than passively consuming it, they are forced to experiment in the “field of knowledge”.
Interview with Lotty Rosenfeld
Lotty Rosenfeld, a visual artist and founder of the group C.A.D.A. (Art Actions Collective), along with artist Juan Castillo, sociologist Fernando Balcells, poet Raúl Zurita and novelist Diamela Eltit, discusses the group’s origins and its development during the years of Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Its works were based on the reformulation of the mechanisms of artistic production and framed inside counter-institutional practice, while the use of direct action in public space as a tool for redefining the conditions of its creative participation defined the group and the individual work of some of its members. Emblematic works such as Para no morir de hambre en el arte (Not to Die of Hunger in Art, 1979) and No + (No More, 1983–1989) went beyond the artistic sphere, coming to form part of the collective imaginary in Latin America. Rosenfeld also analyses the notion of archive and her solo work, both individually and as part of feminist groups in Chile.
Interview with Dora García
In this interview, Dora García (Valladolid, Spain, 1965) draws from different works in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection to reflect on her work from its starting point, with themes such as narrative, infinite writing, performance and psychoanalysis shaping a coherent and continuous world. The artist analyses her use of the book as an object and repository of stories, and, by way of literary and psychoanalytical references, from James Joyce and Freud to Lacan, she discusses the transformation of reading and text production into collective actions. Similarly, she explores the key strands running through debates on performance: how to document and transmit it and questioning the classical idea of impossibility associated with its repetition, present in her approach to the works and writings of Allan Kaprow and Óscar Masotta. She also focuses on the damned artist, the notion of the anti-hero and the inappropriate to define a way of approaching reality through fiction.
Rethinking Guernica is a website based on over two years’ research and compiles and presents materials related to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, the painting, which currently hangs in the Museo Reina Sofía, the artist produced for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair of 1937.
Envisaged as an archive of archives and made up of more than 2,000 documents from 120 public and private archives and national and international agencies, the website is a tool of open knowledge that is constantly evolving. Holding a prominent place on Rethinking Guernica is the Gigapixel study of the work. By applying cutting-edge technology to the knowledge, analysis and conservation of artistic heritage, the study groups together and arranges a broad number of images of the picture.
Interview with Rosa Barba
Rosa Barba (Agrigento, Italy, 1972) uses the medium of the cinema, from its devices and materiality to the temporalities it summons up, to explore the mechanisms that articulate our era, when any possibility of rupture can stem only from the recognition of a society where the difference between productive work and creativity is non-existent, and where our dependence on technology and gadgets is almost absolute. Through misadjustments, paradoxes and displacements, the artist reveals the composition of narratives and the apparatuses which make them possible. Her films and installations destabilize grand narratives and propose other perceptions of the real where framing and ciphering technologies –that is, apparatuses– are revealed as an essential part of the organization of our subjectivities, emotions and experiences.
Territories and Fictions
Thinking a New Way of the World
This presentation of holdings from the Museo Reina Sofía Collection, largely made up of recent acquisitions, approaches the languages and artistic practices that defined the period between the end of the 1990s and 2007 – both in Spain and internationally - by way of a series of shared questions that heralded the start of the century and run up to the present time.
Val del Omar
Piluca Baquero, coordinator of the Val del Omar Archive and Cristina Cámara, Head of the Department of Film and Video in the Collections Department and curator of the exhibition, discuss the review of the work of filmmaker José Val del Omar (Granada, 1904 - Madrid, 1982) in recent years, has coexisted alongside the Museo Reina Sofía from the very beginning, from the time it opened as an Art Centre in 1986, although it wasn’t until November 2009 that they were seen for the first time within the context of the Museo’s collection. The screening of Triptych elemental de España (Elementary Triptych of Spain) reflected a declaration of intent regarding the recovery of his work that after the restoration and digitization of the vast majority of the film work produced by the artist, has joined the Museum collection by deposit.
Val del Omar - In Process
Through the retrospective : VAL DEL OMAR overflow the challenge of transferring this PLAT laboratory, this space of creation found in the Barrio del Pilar district in Madrid, to the Museo was undertaken. In 2012, the Museo devoted six rooms of the Collection to the presentation of a significant part of the ensemble. The revised selection is the one currently travelling between three Spanish art institutions on account of the invaluable support of the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation, whose social and education project places citizens’ access to culture among its main priorities.
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #47, 1970 Interview with Rosario Peiró
The Wall Drawing concept was the best medium for giving expression to LeWitt’s radical ideas, and these works would become the most characteristic in his output. In a 1970 text under the same name, Wall Drawings, the artist explained that his approach consisted of making a work “as two-dimensional as possible”. In accordance with his minimalist, and therefore reductionist, thinking, LeWitt felt the most natural way to work was directly on the wall, rather than on a “construction” which would later be hung on the wall. This enabled him to create works with a minimum of materials, allowing the drawing to become an intrinsic part of the architecture of the gallery and causing the viewer to interact spatially given that they would only make sense of the work through experiencing the actual exhibition space.
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #47, 1970
The first installation of Wall Drawing #47 was drawn in June 1970 by Kazuko Miyamoto, at the Philippe-Guy Wood Residence in Vasenaz, Geneva. The Museo Reina Sofía acquired the piece in 2009 and the first installation was in 2011. The current installation, carried out between 3 November and 10 December 2014, is on a wall 5 metres high and 15.8 metres wide. The draughtspersons are Roland Lusk and Andrew Colbert, under the direction of John Hogan, with the participation of six assistants. Wall Drawing #47 requires meticulous work to ensure uniform pressure of the pencil on the support. It is finished with a water-based varnish applied by a specialist from the Sol LeWitt Studio and an assistant.
A study of the work Portrait of Joella by Salvador Dalí
After the intervention project that has been taken in the work Portrait of Joella by Salvador Dali, this important surrealist object returns to the Collection galleries.
Portrait of Joella, is a pictorial intervention of Salvador Dalí on a portrait of the gallerist´s wife, Joella Bayer in 1933. It is a work in full development of his paranoiac-critical method, a proposal to allow associations of images with their hidden meanings, often related to sexuality and death.
This video, produced by the Museum, collects the interesting conservation process carried out, in which those responsible for the intervention explain the study's findings.
Modernity after modernity
An interview with T.J.Clark
Produced on the occasion of the master lectures of 2011, this video offers a comprehensive theoretical introduction to modernism with the art historian TJ Clark. The author of Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica (2013) and Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (1999), among other seminal studies, TJ Clark discusses the ideas that shaped modernism (the process of secularization, the loss of the aura or the disenchantment with the world) and how these notions survive or have been transformed throughout history, placing special emphasis on the Museum's Collection.
Set up and display. Collection 3. From Revolt to Postmodernity (1962-1982)
This video looks at Museo Reina Sofía's Collection 3, giving special attention to the set up of the exhibition and to the contributions made by Manuel Borja-Villel, the director of the Museum, Rosario Peiró, the head of the Collections Department, and Jesús Carrillo, the head of Cultural Programs. Learning about the set-up process helps expand visitors' vision and enriches their understanding of this section of the newly arranged Collection, starting with the projection of works in the exhibition rooms where the stories are told, with commentary by the people directly involved.
Collection 3. From the uprisings to post-modernism (1962-1982)
In this video, the director of the Museum, Manuel Borja-Villel, the head of the Collections Department, Rosario Peiró and the head of Cultural Programs, Jesús Carrillo, discuss some of the key ideas that make up the new Collection rooms. The visit, which covers the two floors of the Nouvel building, explores a field in continual expansion: practices that no longer follow a single direction but rather come from positions that are not only markedly different, such as tropicalism and feminist art, but also from artistic practices that overlap with one another and others that choose to intervene in repressive contexts such as the dictatorships in Spain and Latin America.
La tertulia del café de Pombo. Findings of the restoration
José Gutiérrez Solana painted La tertulia del café de Pombo in 1920, at the request of his friend Ramón Gómez de la Serna, a writer linked to the avant-garde movement in Spain. The painting captures a singular moment in Spanish intellectual life during the 1920s, between the dark connotations of España Negra and the renewal brought by the Generation of '98. A recent conservation analysis has revealed previously unknown details about the painting, leading to new interpretations.
Interview with Andreas Huyssen
Structured around various core ideas, this interview with the author of the book Modernismo después de la postmodernidad (2011) shows the dilemmas arising between a revision of the melancholic and contemplative past, returned in the form of the architectural memorial, and a critical reading from the museum, in which history and memory are confronted. Huyssen discusses the foundations of a new modernism, which has future prospects and projects but lacks a geographical centre and power hierarchies.
Serge Guilbaut. Is the war over?
The author of the book De cómo Nueva York robó a París la idea de arte moderno (Madrid, 1990) and the curator of the exhibitionBajo la bomba: el jazz de la guerra de imágenes transatlántica, 1946-1956 (MACBA and Museo Reina Sofía, 2007) talks about the new post-war scenario in dispute, in which there is a convergence of realism, abstraction and traces of an historical avant-garde that shows clear signs of exhaustion.
War photography. Museo Reina Sofía Collection
During the Spanish Civil War hundreds of pieces of photojournalism were published on the conflict, in magazines in both Spain and abroad. The interest that the war aroused in other countries is manifested in the participation of foreign photographers such as Robert Capa or David Seymour ("Chim"). This room of the Collection also shows the work of photographers such as Agustí Centelles, Alfonso Sánchez Portela and Juan Pando.