The secretary general of la Caixa Foundation, Luis Reverter; the director of the MACBA Foundation, Ainhoa Grandes; the director of the Museu dArt Contemporani de Barcelona
, Bartomeu Marí, and the director of la Caixa Foundation Contemporary Art Collection and curator of the exhibition, Nimfa Bisbe, inaugurated The Persistence of Geometry. Works from la Caixa Foundation and MACBA collections at CaixaForum Madrid.
This is the second exhibition and the first in Madrid to come from the cooperation agreement signed in July 2010 between Isidro Fainé, president of la Caixa and la Caixa Foundation, and Leopoldo Rodés, president of the MACBA Foundation, which was later extended at the MACBA Consortium.
The agreement involves the joint management of the two contemporary art collections. The new collection created from the two original ones brings together a total of 5,500 works and is one of the largest in Spain and Southern Europe covering the period between the second half of the 20th century and the present day. The ultimate goal of this union is to enable people to become more aware of and better informed about the latest art by making the new collection and its actions better known on the international contemporary art scene.
la Caixa Foundation and MACBA exhibitions suggest associations between works from different times and cultural contexts, according to aspects of form and subject that connect with present day artistic concerns. The first three overlap in time: Volume!, inaugurated last November at the Museu dArt Contemporani de Barcelona; The Persistence of Geometry, at CaixaForum Madrid, and The Mirror Reversed, which will open its doors at the end of January at the Bilbao Guggenheim.
In November 2012, CaixaForum Palma will be offering a fourth look at the two collections. At the same time, from next autumn the exhibition The turn of the century in contemporary Spanish art will begin a two-year tour of Asia, visiting cities in China, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines, thanks to an agreement with Acción Cultural Española (AC/E).
Geometrical shapes, omnipresent in 20th century art
The Persistence of Geometry is a journey around la Caixa Foundation and MACBA collections which starts from the recurrent appearance of geometry in sculpture and installation, from the sixties to our day. It shows a break with traditional forms and a redefinition of the work of art which, through the experience of shape and space, seeks the active participation of the spectators.
In all periods of history geometry has been a symbol of purity, intelligence and perfection. In Ancient Greece, it was the object of a metaphysical idealism and was identified with notions of perfection, beauty, reason and balance. Its legacy in Western culture has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration, and it has been attributed functions that are not only scientific and cosmological, but also aesthetic and mystical. Today it conditions the whole of our lives, in both the physical reality of urban space and industrial products and the screens that transport us to the virtual world of cyberspace.
Geometry has always been present in art, though it was not until the 20th century that its use was extensively theorised. In the first decades of the last century it was linked to the concepts of abstraction and modernity and was a vehicle for idealisms and utopias. Using it made it easier to move away from a representation of reality and fuelled the aspiration to create a new visual language that would embody the ideas of purity and perfection.
The Persistence of Geometry travels the road that began in the sixties and seventies, when Minimalism, post-Minimalism and Conceptual Art were forged. Their makers stripped abstract art of symbolic contents and used it as a pure principle of composition. Art was reduced to the elemental shapes and shifted its meaning outside the object until it became an experience that depended on the properties of the environment and interaction with the spectator.
In the seventies the concept of sculpture was at a crossroads. As a consequence of the proliferation of ideas that blurred the boundaries between the arts, the geometrical shapes of Minimalist sculpture were extended to other practices which included installation, film, video and photography with which different aspects of the construction of the work of art were explored: performance, process, the properties of light and the temporal nature of perception.
In recent years, artists of the new generations have returned to geometry to explore the use made of it by earlier tendencies. And so geometrical shapes have persisted in art with different sensibilities, narratives and styles. These new generations are united in their aim to review cultural issues. In their works geometry once again draws on content to convey poetic, personal or political meanings, abandoning the concept of abstraction.
The exhibition is divided into eight areas, some of them occupied by an installation by a single artist (James Lee Byars, Ettore Spalletti, Damián Ortega) while others contain groups of works by different authors. Altogether there are 96 works by 31 artists.