Cuenca Exhibition

On Paper: Graphic Works from the Fundación Juan March Collection

July 8 – October 9, 2011
Manuel Rivera – Solares, 1966. Libro éstalon con 10 dibujos en tinta china
Manuel Rivera – Soleares, 1966
Libro étalon con 10 dibujos en tinta china

A selection of graphic arts–prints and artist books–from the collection of the Fundación Juan March. Among them are some of the artists, such as Eduardo Chillida, Antoni Tàpies and Luis Gordillo, whose works form part of the collection of contemporary Spanish art on display at the museum.

The graphic arts collection of the Fundación Juan March was established in parallel with the birth of another museum administered by the Fundación, the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca. From its creation in 1966, its founder Fernando Zóbel, a connoisseur of prints, illustrated books and graphic arts techniques, turned the museum into a driving force for the graphic arts in all its technical variations. From that moment on, the museum began publishing and collecting prints, serigraphs and artist books by important Spanish contemporary graphic artists such as Abel Martín, Eusebio Sempere and Antonio Saura. Since 1980, when it received the bequest of Zobel's collection, the Fundación Juan March has followed in his footsteps and has continued to publish and collect original works of graphic art. The results of these dual activities are among the works presented in this intentionally small–scale exhibition, part of a series that will continue in the future.

The display includes works produced in the mid–1960s and mid–1970s (portfolios and artist books), when exposure to original works of graphic art by artists virtually unknown to the general public was still limited. There are nearly 80 works on view–serigraphs, lithographs, etchings and collages–by more than a dozen of the most important artists of those years. In many of the prints can be seen signs of artists working in experimental modes. Reflected in the exhibition, as well as in the museum's collection, is the spirit of a generation of artists who above all lived in an informalist and abstract context and the parallels between their graphic work and the sum of their artistic production are as clear as they are suggestive.

Among them, the represented artists exhibit an awareness of diverse graphic arts. In some works, the interest that classical and contemporary literature awoke in them is obvious: Antonio Saura illustrated a text by Quevedo and ended up recreating a unique universe shared by both, populated by more or less monstrous and caricatured figures. Antoni Tàpies established a complicit partnership with the multi–talented visual poet, dramaturge and cultural agitator, Joan Brossa, co–writing and illustrating a novel based on the dry, official documents of the era. Others, like Chillida, Feito, Guerrero, Hernández Pijuan, Millares and Sempere, used text to accompany images in which the freshness of the line and the plasticity of the paint overtake the etching plate.

In their eagerness to create works understood to be complete works of art, these artists, in particular, Chillida, Millares, Tàpies and Rivera–who mustered up the courage to write and create a book in étalon—conceived of the portfolios destined to contain their artistic production as something more substantive in value, something that formed part of and was integrated into the artistic expression, making evident the direct and indispensable relationship between artists and writers.