Art in Sound up to 1980

23 September, 2020 - 1 March, 2021 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 3

Across the twentieth century’s different avant-garde movements, and parallel to the processes through which music started to get rid from its own norms, sound reached hitherto unexplored artistic spaces. Audible phenomena and events became plastic materials that could be processed vocally and technically. This was favoured by the technological development of new mediums of sound recording and synthesis, as well as by the interest in the soundscapes of industrial and urban modernity and in the sounds of the phonatory body (mouth noises, different ways of drawing breath, and so on).

Therefore, this exhibition displays a selection of forms, approaches, and particular cases, as it spans different initiatives that moved beyond pre-defined categories in modern and contemporary art until 1980. The show places the accent on different pivotal moments: the Futurist experience of building instruments to modulate noises; visual artists’ fascination with the tape recorder around the midway point of the 20th century; and spatial, musical and multimedia experiments, for instance the Philips Pavilion for the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958, directed by Le Corbusier and with architectural and musical contributions by Iannis Xenakis and Edgard Vàrese.

The repeated questioning of classical music forms is also the subject of a critical revision in the exhibition: from the Dadaists’ deployment of non-discursive phenomena—such as Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters (1932)—to the incursion of the visual into the heart of poetry and musical notation; from Man Ray’s unplayable instrument Emak Bakia (1926) and the musique barbare essays of Karel Appel (1963) up to the thunderous wail of punk, on the threshold of the 1980s, announcing a “no future”.

In collaboration with    Santander Fundación

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Reina Sofía
Maike Aden