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Unprecedented Spanish-American partnership brings modern Spanish art to Dallas
Joan Ponç (Spanish, 1927-1984), Composition, 1947. Mixed media on board. Asociación Colección Arte Contemporáneo, Museo Patio Herreriano.

DALLAS, TX.- This fall, the Meadows Museum at SMU presents the most comprehensive survey of modern Spanish art to be shown in the United States. The exhibition—which features nearly 100 works of art dated from 1915-1957 by more than 50 artists—offers a compelling visual narrative of the development and evolution of modern art, as seen through the work of the most important Spanish creators of the time. The works are drawn predominantly from the Asociación Colección Arte Contemporáneo (ACAC), one of the most significant repositories of modern Spanish art in the world, along with select masterpieces from the renowned collection of the Meadows Museum. The collaboration and exhibition mark the first time many of these works will travel to the U.S. Modern Spanish Art from the Asociación Colección Arte Contemporáneo will be on view at the Meadows—the exclusive venue for this exhibition—from October 9, 2016, through January 29, 2017. This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum and the Asociación Colección Arte Contemporáneo, in collaboration with Acción Cultural Española.

Leveraging the exceptional scope of the ACAC’s collections, the exhibition includes:

● Internationally acclaimed artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Óscar Domínguez, Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, Antoni Tàpies, Joaquín Torres-García, Josep de Togores, and Jorge Oteiza, who were little appreciated in their time;

● Rafael Barradas, Leandre Cristòfol, Ángel Ferrant, Alberto Sánchez, and José Guerrero, who influenced the practice of their contemporaries both in Spain and the U.S.;

● Artists, who—though critical to the history of modern art—remain lesser-known, including Alfonso de Olivares and Martín Chirino.

● Masterpiece works by some of the most famed modern Spanish artists, drawn from the collection of the Meadows Museum as well as the ACAC, including Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso.

The ACAC, which was formed in 1987 by a group of private companies in Spain, is a unique collecting consortium: a privately funded entity that works to preserve and present art expressly for the benefit of the public as well as scholarly research. The exhibition is curated by Eugenio Carmona, an internationally recognized scholar of 20th-century art, who has been integral to the development of the ACAC’s collections. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color exhibition catalogue featuring an extended essay by Carmona, and the Meadows will also be hosting a half-day symposium featuring Carmona and other national and international presenters.

“The 20th century was a fertile and creative time when it comes to modern art in Spain. In spite of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime, great art continued to be created throughout the era,” said Mark Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum. “The exhibition, through our collaboration with the ACAC, revisits this important artistic period and re-engages with artists and art that deserve greater recognition and a place in the popular understanding of modern art.”

While Spanish art of this period cannot be fully separated from its historical context, the exhibition focuses on the tremendous aesthetic contributions of Spanish artists to modern art at large, including those of the diaspora of Spanish artists who were working in cities such as Paris. The five sections of the exhibition highlight five sensibilities that were present among modern Spanish artists; connective threads are evident among the featured artists, yet the diversity of the formal and conceptual approaches they took is underscored as well. The sections are as follows:

New Physiognomies and Modern Realisms: The artists represented in this section were at the forefront of modern realism; these artists depicted the men and women of a transforming European society in compositions that underscored their differences, their modernity and complexity, and particularly for women, their changing role in society.

Forma: Development Toward a Constructive Art: Works in this section represent a transition from the Cubist style to a freer interpretation of concrete, structured forms. Both abstract and figurative in subject, many of the works of art in this section highlight a powerful connection to the art of Latin America.

Nature and Culture: The distinct relationship between nature and culture as expressed through art is explored in this section. The convergence of popular culture with nature and ethnography resulted in a vibrant approach to the creative process through which modern art and cultural identity were uniquely joined.

Surrealisms Expanded: This section explores the range of approaches Spanish artists took to what is commonly understood as Surrealism. The work of these artists reveals a broader perception of what it meant to depict the unconscious dream-state associated with the genre; these representations, in both two and three dimensions, uncover new ideas of paranoia, exile, memory, and human nature—both individual and collective.

New Lyricism and Free Expression: With these works, artists embraced a freedom and spontaneity in both gesture and subject matter. The paintings and sculptures in this section are connected by a sense of action and energy. Several of the works in this section represent a precursor to the advent of North America’s Abstract Expressionist movement.

“In order to understand the scope and intensity of Spanish modern art, we have to ignore the common use of ‘–isms,’ and look to the content of the works themselves,” Carmona explained. “The Spanish artists active during the heart of the 20th century continually pushed and eroded formal boundaries. Today, their work cannot be easily categorized as it falls dynamically across style, approach, and movement. With this exhibition and the groundbreaking partnership between the Meadows Museum and ACAC, we are providing new access to some of the major works of modern art.”

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