The Task of the Painter
This retrospective exhibition devoted to the work of Jörg Immendorff (Bleckede, Germany, 1945 –Düsseldorf, Germany, 2007) surveys a career spanning more than four decades, setting forth the key stages and transformations in the artist’s work: from the sociopolitical and political upheaval works he conceived between the 1960s and early 1980s, to the encoded paintings in the latter stages of his output.
Time Is Mute
This retrospective on the work of Mario Merz (Milan, Italy, 1925 – Milan, Italy, 2003) surveys the provenance of a body of work suspended in a kind of pre-historic time, at odds with the discourse of modern-era history. This anachronistic perspective, apparent in the choice of materials and iconography, stems from the ideological and committed stance of an artist and his relation to the political and intellectual climate in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, in addition to his rejection of pervasive capitalism and the American way of life after the Second World War.
The search for mythology distinguished Merz’s work from his kindred contemporaries, for his archaism bore no relation to a melancholic yearning for the past, but instead was related to a razor-sharp critique of industrial and consumerist modernity.
Delphine Seyrig and the Feminist Video Collectives in France in the 1970s and 1980s
Delphine Seyrig (1932-1990) is best known for the roles she played in French auteur cinema, most notably in Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais. However, during the 1970s, she became indeed an activist working collaboratively within the framework of the feminist movement. Around 1975, together with activist video maker Carole Roussopoulos and translator Ioana Wieder, she produced a series of videos under the collective name “Les Insoumuses” (Defiant Muses). This exhibition explores the intersection between the histories of cinema, video and feminism in France.
Focusing on the emergence of video collectives in the 1970s, the exhibition proposes to reconsider the history of the feminist movement in France through a set of media practices and looks at a network of creative alliances that emerged in a time of political turmoil.
History Keeps Me Awake at Night
From the late 1970s until his untimely death in 1992 through AIDS-related complications, David Wojnarowicz (New Jersey, USA, 1954 — New York, USA, 1992) produced a body of work that was as conceptually rigorous as it was stylistically diverse. His artistic career fused a broad array of forms, mediums and devices, for instance the use of photography as a narrative tool; collage as a resource for critique and political statements, stressed through the poverty of the medium; painting adopted to explore different allegorical processes; and photomontage and text employed as an approach to the queer and identity politics that also shaped his role as an activist.
Self-portrait of Other
The work of Japanese artist Tetsuya Ishida (Yaizu, Shizuoka, 1973 – Tokyo, 2005) gives the experience of the contemporary subject a face as it explores the uncertainty and desolation of Japanese society, drastically altered by the technological advances and successive crises that have affected economies and politics the world over. More specifically, Ishida portrays, with descriptive precision, the mood of his generation, defined by the bursting bubble of finance and real estate and the mass lay-offs that plunged the country into a deep recession in 1991.
Rogelio López Cuenca
Keep Reading, Giving Rise
Keep Reading, Giving Rise is the first retrospective of the artist Rogelio López Cuenca (Nerja, 1959). He has worked at the crossroads between the visual arts and the mass media. Taking writing off the page, he has exercised his own visual poetry that operates inside the tradition of institutional critique and the offshoots of Pop through multiple mediums such as painting, installation, urban interventions and publishing.
The Avant-garde Networks of Amauta
Argentina, Mexico, and Peru in the 1920s
The Peruvian journal Amauta (1926–1930), founded and directed by José Carlos Mariátegui (Moquegua, Peru, 1894 – Lima, Peru, 1930), was one of the most influential publications in twentieth-century art. Conceived as a platform for the core debates on modernity, and in contrast to other avant-garde publications, Amauta was not the expression of one group, nor did it seek to impose one sole aesthetic or political programme. Rather, it aspired to become a medium with which to explore and discuss different movements of social transformation.
H. C. Westermann
American artist Horace Clifford Westermann (Los Angeles, 1922 – Danbury, 1981) assembled a distinctive and singular body of sculptures. His works were predominantly made from wood through his masterly command of carpentry and cabinetmaking, yet he also used other techniques and materials such as metal, glass and enamelling with incredible precision. In this retrospective presented by the Museo Reina Sofía, a concern with going back to shelter would soon emerge, be it in the home or the body —and blighted by the threat of confinement and death. Also, stubborn or helpless figures would recur through Westermann’s oeuvre.
Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was An Idea
A documentary film by Pentimenti Productions
Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea is a 3-D documentary film that explores the art and life of sculptor and printmaker H.C. Westermann. Directed by Leslie Buchbinder, executive produced by international art icon KAWS, and featuring interviews with Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, and others, the film's narrative is driven by Westermann's prolific and wide-ranging letters that reveal a dramatic personal history reflected in his beguiling, surreal artworks. A veteran of WWII & the Korean War who struggled with the ramifications of modern warfare, and an acrobat who viewed his life as a constant balancing act, Westermann forged a life of art from the crucible of chaos and death. Pentimenti's use of 3-D technology immerses the viewer within the beauty, mystery, comedy, and pain of Westermann’s work and life. For more information please visit the Pentimenti Productions website.
The Poetics of Democracy
Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition
The Poetics of Democracy: Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition originates from research undertaken in 2008 by the Museo Reina Sofía’s Department of Collections, the objective being to vindicate the artistic experiences excluded from the institutional discourses of the history of Spanish art of the 1970s. In this video, Manuel Borja-Villel (director of the Museum) and Rosario Peiró (Head of Collections) explain this research process —which was carried out over a decade— to recall a period when, alongside civil demands for democratic liberties, social justice, and self-government, there arose a new aesthetic linked to innovative cultural practices that sought to subvert the order of Franco’s regime and the institutional schemes attempting to inherit it.
Lost, Loose and Loved
Foreign Artists in Paris 1944-1968
This show explores the contribution of foreign artists who, after the Second World War, were working in Paris, a city which still preserved a certain aura surrounding its mythical modern embodiment as a “City of Light” in the 19th century. The broad collective exhibition reflects the vitality and vivacity of the art scene in all its complexity, displaying the different creative trends which took hold in the city inside and outside the School of Paris at a time of fervent political debate, held to the backdrop of the new global stage opened by the Cold War. From a broad array of artistic fields — from painting and sculpture to jazz, literature and film — foreign artists dealt with mounting tension by bringing their approaches and hopes to the Parisian milieu in an attempt to connect with the tradition of international modernism but without losing a grip on their own cultural identity.