Genealogies of Art, Miquel Barceló, and Meret Oppenheim

In early 2020, Museo Picasso Málaga will be starting off its exhibition programme with Genealogies of Art, or the history of art as visual art, in which authors from the 17th-21st century visually present the history of art using genealogical trees, allegories, charts and diagrams. One of these diagrams is represented in three dimensions with works by Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Brancusi, amongst others. Next summer, Miquel Barceló. Metamorphosis will exhibit a large selection of ceramics, oils and watercolours that will once again display the inexhaustible energy and keen experimental vein of an artist who has created a highly personal, original and complex body of work. In the autumn, to showcase 20th-century women artists and following on from previous exhibitions such as Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Avant-Garde Pathways, Hilma af Klint. A Pioneer of Abstraction, Louise Bourgeois. I Have Been to Hell and Back and We are completely Free. Woman Artist and Surrealism, Museo Picasso Málaga will present Meret Oppenheim. Reflection of an era.


Jointly produced by Fundación Juan March and Museo Picasso Málaga, the exhibition deals with the visual narration of art history from the specific point of view employed by museums and exhibitions. Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Paul Cézanne, Robert Delaunay, Alberto Giacometti, Juan Gris, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Franz Marc, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, Paul Klee and Henry Moore are just some of the artists whose work can be seen at this exhibition, which will run from February 2020 at Museo Picasso Málaga.

If the history of art comprises objects that are designed to be seen, then shouldn’t the way we tell it also be highly visual? Textual and abstract narration has certainly been more prevalent than visual, concrete narration. Genealogies of art, or the history of art as visual art attempts to make up for this by displaying different visual ways of narrating these histories.

Genealogies of art, or the history of art as visual art is a show about the ways of visually narrating history (in this case art history), from a specific curatorial point of view, with one foot placed firmly in curatorial practice and the other in visual thinking, certain literary theories, and works from the field of Visual Studies. At the same time, this is an exhibition about an exhibition: the outstanding Cubism and Abstract Art, presented at MoMA in 1936 by Alfred Hamilton Barr, Jr. (1902-1981), the founder of the New York museum that was to be the world’s first museum of modern art. Barr was also the first “curator”, in the modern sense of the word. For these two reasons, the exhibition is also an exercise in reconstructing what was perhaps the most ambitions attempt ever to provide the art of the first half of the 20th century with a genealogy spanning almost three generations.

The exhibition has been devised and organized by a curatorial team comprising Manuel Fontán del Junco, director of museums and exhibitions at Fundación Juan March; José Lebrero Stals, artistic director of Museo Picasso Málaga; and María Zozaya Álvarez, head of exhibition projects at Fundación Juan March.

MIQUEL BARCELÓ. METAMORPHOSIS (23rd June - 27th September 2020)

Taking its name from Franz Kafka’s famous story published in 1915, Metamorphosis presents almost 100 works produced by Miquel Barceló between 2015 and 2020. The selection can be seen next summer at Museo Picasso Málaga and will include paintings, works on paper, ceramics, notebooks and bronzes.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a selection of more than 30 ceramics whose main feature is their colourfulness and constantly transforming shapes - lacerated, fragmented and pierced - in which we can see figurative elements that hint at plants and aquatic creatures and suggest tongues, petals, fins and leaves, and which, at times, have anthropomorphic features. Amongst these works are the Totems, a new series of large-format ceramics made from superimposed blocks that are reminiscent of classical architecture and characters from mythology. Metamorphosis also includes a small selection of large-format paintings from several recent series, including previously unshown landscapes of almond trees in flower, nocturnal and marine paintings, a burnt-looking self-portrait, and pictures with relief forms of animals that hark back to cave paintings.

Metamorphosis also contains a selection of travel notebooks used in Thailand and India, countries that Barceló has visited frequently over the past few years, along with two series of watercolours painted in both these Asian countries and which feature heightened colour and an idealized world, evocative of myths and legends.

For the Majorcan artist, ceramics, painting and drawing are variations or experiments on a whole: “Each work is experimental: each work is a trial run for another one which will probably never exist. I think this is as true of my painting as my ceramics - or any other thing I make”. The exhibition, curated by Enrique Juncosa, focuses on the one hand on the wandering, cultural condition of the artist and, on the other, on a critical understanding of modernity as a project whose progress is boundless.

MERET OPPENHEIM. REFLECTION OF AN ERA (19th October, 2020 – 7th February, 2021)

This exhibition presents a unique view of the diversity of the artwork of Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985), a creative woman artist who managed to become a member of the Surrealist movement, playing an undisputed major role in world of 20th-century European art. This is her first retrospective in Spain for 30 years, bringing together works that span almost half a century of artistic output, and referencing every period of her work.

During her early years in Switzerland, when she was encouraged by Carl Gustav Jung himself, she described and illustrated her own dreams, which were to be a source of inspiration throughout her life. Meret Oppenheim went to Paris in 1932, where she quickly developed her own personal artistic language, with references to mythology and dreams, literary sources, Jungian psychoanalysis and gender stereotypes. There, in the City of Light, she found her place, retaining her originality, sensitivity and creative freedom among the leading avant-garde artists of the time, such as Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, André Breton and Jean Arp. It was a bohemian circle in which she was an integral part of the Surrealist group, to whom she became an inspiration. They idealized her as the infinitely sensual and creative Woman. She was a muse and a model who inspired artists such as Man Ray, for whom she posed in 1936 for some of his most well-known nude photographs. However, her sexual independence, creative freedom and desire to avoid creating a style, led her to distance herself from the Surrealists and she left the group in 1937, when she returned to Switzerland. Her output decreased in the post-war 1940s, when she was openly vulnerable due to a long and profound emotional crisis, although she occasionally experimented with abstraction. Her artistic activity saw a rebirth in 1954, when she rented a new studio and began a series of collaborations with artists such as Daniel Spoerri, designing theatrical costume and masks, and she remained artistically active until her death in 1985.

The Museo Picasso Málaga exhibition will display the diversity and scope of her work, with around 120 works including paintings; sculptures; drawings; engravings; fashion, jewellery and furniture designs; readymades; photographs, and documents that bear witness to her forays into theatre, film and poetry. The exhibition will also include a selection of works by artists who were close to her, in particular Jean Arp, André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Leonora Fini, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Dora Maar, Dieter Roth, Jean Tinguely and Daniel Spoerri. Exhibition curated by Thomas Levy, José Lebrero e Inmaculada Abolafio. This project is part of Museo Picasso Málaga endeavour over the last ten years to give public visibility to relevant women artists of the 20th century, such as Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Hilma af Klint, Louise Bourgeois and projects as Women Artists and Surrealism. We are completely Free.

Related Exhibition

Genealogies of art, or the history of art as visual art