The Swiss artist Max Bill (Winterthur, 1908 - Berlin, 1994) was a multitalented individual whose life revolved around making art and reflecting about a handful of great ideas –form, concretion, function, figure, beauty and design, among others- a real Renaissance man or homo universalis, a "designer" who combined the virtues of the homo faber and homo ludens all throughout his intense life.
The first retrospective dedicated to Max Bill in Spain, the show presents the artist's complete oeuvre in a concentrated way, as it covers –chronologically and thematically— every facet of his multifaceted oeuvre: painting, graphic art, sculpture, architecture, book and magazine design, industrial and furniture design, graphic design and advertising typography –from large format posters to small inserts in periodicals—as well as the design of exhibition spaces. A meticulous selection of 170 works and documents from public and private collections in Europe and America reflect this idea of "concentrated retrospective" that has shaped this exhibition and its catalog from the start.
Until now, the work of Max Bill could only be seen in group exhibitions and above all, in an individual show at Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo in Madrid and Fundació Miró in Barcelona in 1980. His first solo show Spain, it included paintings, sculptures and graphic design. Bill's architecture, which has been the subject of numerous studies and publications, has also aroused our interest, as has his time at the Bauhaus and his relationship with the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (HfG) [Ulm School of Design], which he co-founded in 1951.
Following a series of major shows recently held at the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart, the Kunstmuseum and the Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur and the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich from 2005 to 2008 (on the latter date, to celebrate the centennial of Bill's birth) this exhibition at the Fundación Juan March aims to offer an updated vision of the Swiss artist's work and its significance in the visual arts, architecture and design.
The show has been designed and organized in close collaboration with the max, binia & jakob bill stiftung, with Jakob Bill as principal advisor. It features a selection of fundamental, representative works from throughout the career of an artist who studied at the Bauhaus from 1927 to 1928 and, as we have noted, co-founded the Ulm School in 1951. He was also the main exponent of what is known as konkrete kunst [concrete art], a trend that has marked contemporary Swiss art. Bill stands out not only for the impact he made on Spanish architecture, but also for his influence on Latin American geometric trends, an aspect that the Fundación Juan March already explored in the exhibition Cold America. Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934-1973). He also stands out for his essays, his work as an educator and his political and social interests. All these aspects of his life and work are covered in the exhibition catalog, profusely illustrated and published in two editions, Spanish and English, with essays by experts from Spain and abroad and a selection of previously-unpublished essays by Max Bill himself.
The exhibition max bill has been preceded by a show dedicated to the artist's graphic design, featuring more than one hundred pieces at the Museu Fundación Juan March, in Palma de Mallorca (February 25 – May 30, 2015) and the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca (June 24 – September 18, 2015). Some of these works are also on display in Madrid.
In a 1948 essay about exhibition design, Max Bill said that he had often wondered "why people go to exhibitions. I've come to the conclusion […] that most visitors hope to feel something beyond the scope of their everyday lives. Visiting an exhibition," he added, "is an opportunity to interrupt one's daily routine with a day of celebration."
Bill's work can be seen as an intense celebration of forms; both the forms that find their function in everyday life –such as design and architecture— and those that celebrate a beauty that has no material function: works of art, which Bill often described as " objects for spiritual use". And the goal of this exhibition is to celebrate both of these things.Videos