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Fernando Zóbel

Donation from the founder of the museum, Fernando Zóbel, to Fundación Juan March

Ferando Zóbel

On 22 December 1980, Fernando Zóbel (1924-1984), founder and owner of the works held by the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art, donated the pieces to Fundación Juan March; a total of more than 200 works, including paintings, sculptures, graphic art, drawings, posters and other works by contemporary Spanish artists. These works were added to the contemporary Spanish art collection of Fundación Juan March, which has subsequently seen the addition of further pieces.

"Looking to the future my concern has always been the continuity of the Museum. I saw clearly that the museum deserved a longer life than me", declared Zóbel, "and that it should continue to expand and develop daring artistic activities, more ambitious than those I could have brought into the world on my own. The artistic program of Fundación Juan March clearly coincided with our overall intentions; the Foundation had the freedom of judgement, the organisation, and the strength to expand, enrich and to plan a dynamic future for the museum. At the same time we thought that the museum's collection would strengthen and enrich the artistic activities of the Foundation". He continued: "I believe that it is important and desirable that the Museum should remain private, with a sense of responsibility towards the public, and that maintain an experimental aspect".

In addition to the works of art, Fernando Zóbel donated 3,556 books and other reading material on contemporary art. Of these, 2,259 personal books remain in the Museum as a resource for researchers. The remaining 1,297 volumes, together with 16,574 new titles that Fundación Juan March added since 1980, were donated in November 1996 to the town council of Cuenca and the University of Castilla-La Mancha, for the Cuenca General Library.

The greater part of the library is on deposit at the Fundación Juan March Library in Madrid, and a representative sample (some seven hundred books) may be seen at the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español de Cuenca. The virtual visit to the Library of Fernando Zóbel is available on Internet.

Fernando Zóbel de Ayala was born in Manila (Philippines) in 1924, the son of a Spanish businessman. He studied Medicine in the Philippines before graduating in philosophy from the University of Harvard (United States of America). From 1951 to 1960 he was Professor of Fine Arts of the Athenaeum in Manila. He travelled in the USA and Europe and in Spain, in 1955, he began a friendship with a number of abstract painters. In 1966 he founded, together with Gustavo Torner and Gerardo Rueda, the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art in the Hanging Houses of Cuenca (Casas Colgadas de Cuenca) financed with his own money. In December 1980 he donated the collection to Fundación Juan March. The works he held overseas are now in the British Museum in London, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Fogg Museum at Harvard and the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila. Fernando Zóbel died in Rome on 2 June 1984.

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