Exhibition: From modernism to the avant-garde. Drawings from the Francisco Godia Foundation collection


6 minutos de lectura
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To open a Montmartre-style cabaret in Barcelona. That was the aim with which Els Quatre Gats bar opened its doors on 12 June, 1887 on the ground floor of a neogothic building designed by Josep Puig i Cadalfach. Managed by Pere Romeu, former "cabaretier" of the Chat Noir in Paris, it became a meeting point for artists such as Ramon Casas, Ricard Opisso, Manolo Hugué, Isidre Nonell and a boyish Pablo Picasso, in addition to others. Many of their drawings immortalised the bohemian atmosphere of the day. Some of these works are now on exhibit in Palma as part of the From modernism to the avant-garde. Drawings from the Francisco Godia Foundation collection, a show that starts with the advent of modernism as a prelude to the major contemporary trends. The show, organised and produced by ”la Caixa” Foundation, in conjunction with the Francisco Godia Foundation, features 64 drawings that illustrate the changes in sensitivity and the contradictions of the time; from the works of Ramon Casas, Ricard Opisso and Pablo Picasso of the Quatre Gats era, to the sketches of Julio González, Joaquín Torres-García and Olga Sacharoff from pre-Spanish Civil War period. This collection of art work, never before displayed, belongs to the Francisco Godia Foundation and is a testimony to the relationship that grew as of the late 19th century between Catalan artists and a cultivated bourgeoisie, that has been kept alive over the years, giving rise to a robust collecting culture. The exhibition From modernism to the avant-garde. Drawings from the Francisco Godia Foundation collection, curated by Jordi González Llácer, can be visited at the ”la Caixa” Foundation's Balearic Island premises, from 1 October to 30 November, 2003. The exhibition covers a broad time period, ranging from the last quarter of the 19th century up to shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, although works of Catalan modernist masters predominate. The 19 artists represented are Dionís Baixeras, Carles Casagemas, Ramon Casas, Feliu Elias (Apa), Francesc d'Assís Galí, Francesc Gimeno, Julio González, Xavier Gosé, Manolo Hugué, Segundo Matilla, Eliseu Meifrèn, Joan Miró, Isidre Nonell, Ricard Opisso, Pablo Picasso, Pau Roig, Olga Sacharoff, Ismael Smith and Joaquín Torres-García. The showing has been structured into six thematic areas illustrating the changes in sensibility and the contradictions of the day. Hedonism and the feminine. The toilette. Elegance, vanity, the pleasures of modern lifeCatalan modernism formed part of a historical phenomena driven by an acceleration in technological progress and the dawn of the consumer society. It brought a fascination with youth and anything new –the automobile, racetracks– to the fore. Among the works in this category are a few of the first portrayals of automobiles in turn-of-the-20th-century Spanish art, such as the coloured pencil sketch by Opisso, Couple at a racecourse (c. 1900) and the ink drawing by Xavier Gosé entitled Lady getting into a car (c. 1905). Another distinct trait of the modernist movement was its narcissism. Several drawings by Casas, Opisso, Gosé and Ismael Smith show prototypes of elegance embodied in extravagant women and dandies. A clear expression of this exquisite, discreetly decadent narcissism is its tendency to exhibit beauty and the feminine captured at that highpoint of intimacy: the toilette. ‘Miserablism' (common figures, repatriates, gypsies, indigent settings)In 1893, the legendary bomb attack on Barcelona's Liceo Opera House marked a turning point in anarchist revolutionary methods. The colonial disaster experienced in 1898 and the repatriation of a defeated army further accentuated an air of public discontent. This pessimistic atmosphere sowed the seeds for a novel artistic genre: "miserablism". These sketched chronicles of social realities were cultivated in Catalonia by some of modernism's greatest creative talents. This exhibition offers a wealth of such works, from the sketches of beggars and gypsy women by Nonell and Casagemas to Opisso's groups of repatriates. Dance, frenzy and movement as symbols of modernityWhen cinema was invented (1895), it bore no artistic pretensions. But it did share modernism's attraction to movement, mechanical efficiency and new commercial possibilities. Both phenomena coincided with the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition. This became one of the keys to European art of the time: a singular treatment of the human figure (voluptuous clothing, distinguished bearing and a special musical, rhythmic and dynamic sensibility). This thematic style is generously represented in the show, with several of Opisso's coloured sketches, as well as drawings of flamenco dancers, a bullfighter by Ismael Smith and a lively circus scene by Pau Roig Cisa. Els Quatre Gats: portrait galleryEls Quatre Gats bar opened its doors in Barcelona on 12 June, 1897. Among the regulars were Ramon Pitxot, Rusiñol, Nonell, Canals, Mir, Sebastià Junyer Vidal, Josep Dalmau, Joan Brull, Carles Casagemas, Ricard Opisso, Xavier Gosé, Picasso, Lluís Bagaria, Francesc Pujols and Manolo Hugué. Nearly all of them are featured in the drawings of the exhibition. The collector was able to discern the future value of this artwork when it hardly aroused any interest. Drawing as a study for painting or sculpting. The genesis of 20th century avant-garde. This artistic setting was distinguished by the experimental and methodical use of drawing by 19th century landscape painters such as Dionís Baixeras and Segundo Matilla, as well as the sketches and preparatory studies of major 20th century avant-garde figures like Picasso, Julio González, Joan Miró, Manolo Hugué and Joaquín Torres-García. The drawings exhibited are clear reflections of the innovations that came about in European art at the turn of the century, a decisive process that culminated in the crystallisation of the first avant-garde movements. From the elegant stroke and predominance of curved lines found in Casas, Gosé, Opisso and Nonell, to the more abstract conceptions of Picasso, Torres-García and Miró. LandscapesThe Francisco Godia drawing collection features a succinct selection of this essential genre. The Marina study by Segundo Matilla illustrates the usual procedures of 19th century landscape painting; it was customary to first sketch the natural scene on paper and later oil-paint it in the studio. Outskirts (1908), the charcoal drawing painted in watercolour by Nonell, shows how sensitivities changed at the outset of the 20th century. This ambit is concluded with a striking original vignette of an industrial landscape by Feliu Elias (Apa) and Olga Sacharoff's study, View of Tossa (c. 1920). From modernism to the avant-gardeFrom 1 October to 30 November, 2003Balearic Islands ”la Caixa” Foundation Pl. de Weyler, 307001 Palmawww.fundacio.lacaixa.esTel.: 902 22 30 40Hours:Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 1 pm and 5 to 8 pmTuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 9 pmFree admissionwww.fundacio.lacaixa.es