GENEALOGIES OF ART, OR THE HISTORY OF ART AS VISUAL ART

02/26/2020

Alrededor de 250 autores y artistas relacionados con el pensamiento visual están reunidos en esta muestra que presenta desde árboles genealógicos del siglo XVII hasta diagramas virtuales de internet, ofreciendo al visitante una amplia selección iconográfica que complementa el discurso tradicional de la historia del arte.

Devised and organized by Museo Picasso Málaga and Fundación Juan March, this exhibition looks at ways of visually narrating the history of art, or in other words, representing art history by using images and/or words as opposed to the classical and prevalent academic method involving lengthy texts. In one of the three sections of the exhibition, one of these diagrams materializes in three-dimensions: the one that MoMA’s founding director Alfred H. Barr, Jr. drew for the catalogue of the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition in 1936, to explain the origins of abstract art. This section assembles works by Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Paul Cézanne, Robert Delaunay, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Juan Gris, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Franz Marc, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, Paul Klee and Henry Moore, amongst others.

If the history of art is composed of objects designed to be seen, then shouldn’t the way we tell its story also be highly visual? Or is art history something that can only be read about, rather than seen? Art history has traditionally been constructed with words more than with images, and certainly more than by the artworks themselves. Textual abstract narration has thus been more prevalent than the visual, concrete kind. Yet since classical antiquity there have been many, very different ways of expressing ideas other than through conventional writings.

The exhibition makes up for this absence by showing a wide selection of visual representations produced from the 17th century until today by artists, designers, illustrators, historians, essayists, poets, writers and critics. It begins with genealogical trees and ends with modern diagrams and virtual presentations on the internet, testifying to the rich diversity of these other ways of telling a story. At the same time, this is an exhibition about an exhibition: the groundbreaking Cubism and Abstract Art, presented at MoMA in 1936 by the museum’s founder and first director, Alfred Hamilton Barr, Jr. (1902-1981). Works by major early 20th-century artists will therefore be on display at Museo Picasso Málaga, reproducing in situ the famous diagram that Barr devised for the exhibition. It is a visual exercise in reconstructing a diagram that provided the art of the first third of the 20th century with a pedigree spanning almost three generations.

Genealogies of art, or the history of art as visual art has been devised and organized by a curatorial team comprising Manuel Fontán del Junco, curator and 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.The show has been divided into three sections. The first, Visual Histories (1681-1934) and the last, Contemporary Diagrams (1936-2019) feature visual representations created by artists, designers, illustrators, historians, essayists, poets and writers, art critics and theorists. It ranges from 17th-century genealogical trees, through maps, plans and charts, to modern abstract and conceptual representations, contemporary synoptic charts and even digital presentations. This overview also covers avant-garde movements such as futurism, surrealism and Dadaism, all highly prolific in creating genealogies with which to provide themselves with a pedigree. The middle section, titled The 1936 Cubism and Abstract Art Exhibition, serves as a practical case study. It presents us with a visual experiment consisting of the materialization of one the representations, thanks to a careful selection of artworks. The diagram chosen is the one in which Alfred H. Barr, Jr. explained the origins of abstract art. He created it during the preparation of the 1936 exhibition at MoMA that was to mark a turning point in the way art is exhibited, collected, promoted, studied, purchased and sold: Cubism and Abstract Art. The diagram made the genealogy of abstract art from 1890 to 1935 visible by means of what Barr described as “an exercise in recent archaeology” and it was eventually published as the dust jacket of the exhibition catalogue.

The diagram has now been transformed into three dimensions at Museo Picasso Málaga, and the diagram’s references to art movements and artists have been replaced with works by artists who are essential to understanding the evolution of 20th and 21st century art: Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Paul Cézanne, Robert Delaunay, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Juan Gris, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Franz Marc, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, Paul Klee and Henry Moore, amongst many others.

PICASSO AND MODERN ART

In fact, two of the works on display at Museo Picasso Málaga in 2019 were also in the 1936 exhibition in which Alfred H. Barr, Jr. initiated his compatriots into an appreciation of modern art, with an exhibition of European artists – the viewers’ contemporaries at that time – who are today considered the paradigm of the avant-garde and modernity, and whose works are held and cherished by museums and collectors. The paintings are Landscape with Two Poplars (1923) by Wassily Kandinsky and Model for a Public Square (c. 1931–1932) by Alberto Giacometti. Picasso was the artist who revolutionized the ways we understand, feel and make art. Picasso therefore has a major role in this exhibition. In fact, Barr himself, who was the director of the Museum of Modern Art from 1929 to 1943, believed Pablo Picasso to be the most representative artist of the 20th-century. With 29 works, Picasso had the greatest number of works in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition and, three years later, MoMA held its retrospective Picasso. Forty Years of His Art (1939). Barr’s determination was also decisive in acquiring and exhibiting both the pivotal cubist work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and, later, the symbolic and iconic Guernica (1937) at MoMA. Among the many museums in Spain and abroad who have loaned work for this exhibition, which recently ran at Fundación Juan March in Madrid, are Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’art moderne-Centre de création industrielle, Paris; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Fondation Giacometti, Paris; Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris; Kunsthaus, Zurich; Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso; Fundación Picasso. Museo Casa Natal. Ayuntamiento de Málaga; Institut Valencià d’Art Modern; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Musée national Picasso-Paris; Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Museu Picasso, Barcelona; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Museum Berggruen, Berlin; Tate, London; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Henry Moore Foundation; and numerous galleries and private collections. With the collaboration of Erco.

CATALOGUE

Coedited by Fundación Juan March and Museo Picasso Málaga, the almost 1,000-page, large-format catalogue is on sale in the museum bookshop. Published in both Spanish and English, it is fully illustrated and contains essays by Manuel Fontán del Junco, Astrid Schmidt-Burkhardt, Manuel Lima, Uwe Fleckner and Eugenio Carmona.

CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Music: New York and the Genealogy of Jazz

Coinciding with the opening of the exhibition on 26th February, and one day before it opens to the public, the MPM Auditorium has scheduled a free concert featuring Swing Machine Orchestra, the first string swing band. The band comprises violins, violas, violoncellos, bass, drums and tap dancing, and is based on an original idea by violinists Raúl Márquez and Suso Moreno. Swing Machine Orchestra will take us on a trip through the Golden Age of swing, performing works by Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Louis Prima and Scott Joplin. This unique, genuine and madcap group is formed of twelve musicians and dancers from different countries - Cuba, Honduras, Argentina and Spain – who will make us dance along to the frenzied rhythms of the 1930s. Admission is free until all places are taken.

Talk: Will Gompertz

Like a tube map, in his talk Genealogies in the Blink of an Eye, (Wednesday 11th March, at 7pm in the MPM Auditorium), Will Gompertz will present his own panoramic view of the modern art world. From impressionism to the art of today, he will provide us with the keys to answering some of the questions we ask ourselves in museums, in front of an artwork. Why did the Tate buy 120 bricks for £2,000 in 1972? (Equivalent VIII, a sculpture by minimalist artist Carl André). How have we gone from the Mona Lisa to Hirst’s pickled sharks and Koons’ Puppy? Will Gompertz is considered a world authority on modern and contemporary art. He has written two international bestsellers: What Are You Looking At? 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye (2012) and Think Like an Artist (2015), both of which have been translated into over 20 languages. It is necessary to book your seat on the museum webpage. This talk is in English, with simultaneous translation.

Lessons in Art

These events will turn the temporary exhibition rooms into spaces where museum visitors can enjoy talks on art by academic experts who have been invited to offer us their own thoughts on the exhibition. To pre-register, go to the museum website.

Curro González, artist with work in this exhibition. Thursday, 19th March, 6.00 pm.

Nuria Rodríguez Ortega, tenured professor of history of art, Universidad de Málaga. Thursday, 26th March, 6.00 pm.

Mª Ángeles Díaz Barbado, artist and professor of fine arts, Universidad de Málaga. Thursday, 2nd April, 6.00 pm.

Carmen González-Román, tenured professor of history of art, Universidad de Málaga. Thursday, 16th April, 6.00 pm.

María Jesús Martínez Silvente, tenured professor of history of art, Universidad de Málaga. Thursday, 23rd April, 6.00 pm.

Course and Debate. How to Think in Images. 13th and 14th May, MPM Auditorium

Although, down the centuries, images have been subordinated to text, over the last few decades they have being recovering the role they have played since the beginning of time. Visual communication is shown to be a powerful tool, which means it ceases to hold a subsidiary function to other discursive manifestations. In this context, digitalization has exponentially multiplied fields of human knowledge and practices heavily influenced by the visual, such as politics or publication design. Teacher, audiovisual programmer, filmmaker and essayist Ingrid Guardiola; author and cultural critic Jorge Carrión; the director of Editorial Flow Press, Diego Rosembuj; and Eduardo Maura, PhD UCM, are the guest speakers on this course, which will be held in the afternoons.

Programme for adult visitors

Your own genealogies. Participatory space. Room XII

Visitors will be able to design their own visual representations of the history of art with diagrams, using artistic images and texts as the basis for making their own genealogies. Open to the general public.

Gallery Talks… Genealogies of art

Every Saturday at noon, visits are held in Spanish in which participants can talk about some of the visual representations of art history that have been made. We will also take a closer look at one of these representations, which has been transferred to the three-dimensional exhibition space with a set of works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Kazimir Malevich, Robert Delaunay and Wassily Kandinsky.

What is “Genealogies” telling us?

This tour offers visitors some key points that will enable them individually to look at the exhibition in greater depth. This activity is free for individual visitors. It is held in English on Thursdays at 3.00pm and in Spanish on Fridays at noon.

Programmes for families

The museum in movement. Artists’ stories. Saturday, 21st March

In Genealogies of art, Picasso’s work hangs alongside that of other major artists such as Cézanne, Giacometti, Kandinsky, Matisse and Miró. It is an exhibition about a fascinating story – the story of art. Surround yourself with all these paintings, become an investigator for a day and create your own stories. There are artworks from all periods on display, from cave paintings to the very latest online images… Can you imagine the stories that can be told with them? For children aged 4-12 years, accompanied by an adult. This activity includes a guided tour of the temporary exhibition as well as the workshop. Price: 5€ per person.

EASTER WORKSHOP: ALL THE ARTISTS IN THE WORLD! Monday 6th, Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th April, from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm

In a multidisciplinary way, with visits to the museum’s exhibition rooms, workshops on art techniques, and games, participants will be able to get to know the work of Picasso and many other artists whose work is on display in the Genealogies of Art temporary exhibition. Price: 75€ per child, with a 15% discount for the second sibling, and includes the museum visits and all the art materials used in the four sessions. Single-day enrolment is available (15€ day).

A DAY AT… GENEALOGIES OF ART Saturday 30th May, from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm

To coincide with the final day of the exhibition, Museo Picasso Málaga is offering a special day of activities for all ages. Guided tours, art workshops and visits for children and adults will take place all morning in different areas of the museum. All activities are free with the price of admission - which is always free for children.

Programme for schools

Workshop Visits Participants will follow the various stages of the art production process and be faced with creative challenges. They will search for novel, innovative solutions, based on the inspiration of artists. They will be given some guidelines that will help them make the most of the materials at their disposal, with the emphasis on collaborative work.

  • Drawing ourselves For second and third grade of Infant level, and first stage of Primary level. Based on the landscapes and maps on display in the exhibition, we will be using nature as a way of talking about ourselves, through drawing and collage.

  • Ways to paint For second and third stage of Primary level. Artists like Cézanne, Matisse, Kandinsky and Picasso explored different ways to represent the world around them. After visiting the rooms housing the Genealogies of Art exhibition, back in the workshop they will investigate the different pictorial languages employed by early 20th-century artists.

  • Paintings to read For first and second cycle of Secondary level and Bachillerato. In the works on display in the exhibition, letters of the alphabet serve as a common thread, helping us understand 20th- and 21st-century artistic ideas. After visiting the exhibition, the participants will look more closely at the relationship between images and words, using the collage technique.

  1. Participatory Visit

Aimed at second and third cycle of Primary level, and Secondary and Bachillerato levels, this visit is a further attempt to describe the history of art in a visual way, through a participatory discussion that focusses on works by Cézanne, Matisse, Mondrian, Giacometti and Kandinsky. The activity also involves creating a genealogical tree of the history of art together, based on our discussion and interpretation of artistic images.

  1. Bilingual Visit

For Second and third stage of Primary level, and Secondary and Bachillerato levels. MPM is offering a unique opportunity for pupils to practice the foreign language they are studying, with a debate on art in the museum exhibition rooms. Languages available: English, French, German and Italian. Visits are adapted to the various school levels.

Related Exhibition

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