Spain Figurative Arts and Architecture

By | December 31, 2021

To understand the events of art in Spain from 1960 to 1975, it is necessary to go back at least until 1957, when three very significant groups were founded: ParpallóEl Paso and Equipo 57, which in turn collected various previous contributions, such as those due to the 1941 Academia breve de critica de arte, the Dau al Set group and the Altamira School of 1948, the 1951 Hispano-American Biennale, the Grupo R of 1952, at the Santander International Art Exhibition in 1953, etc. Thus the foundations of the dialectical contrast between the repercussions of the international informal and the currents of rationalist and constructivist origin had been laid, albeit with differentiated particularities between the three groups, since the Parpalló had a mixed character while El Paso defined itself as informal and the Equipo 57 assumed the banner of constructivist experimentalism. Therefore in Spain the international artistic culture manifested itself with delay, but with a marked physiognomy, due to the struggle between the survival of cultural isolation and the currents that advocated updating and cultural openness. Consequently, the innovators of 1957 transformed the indeterminacy of the informal and constructivist formalism into movements charged with ideological significance.

The El Paso group (formed by A. Saura, M. Millares, R. Canogar, L. Feito, M. Rivera, M. Viola and M. Chirino) exerted a considerable influence, also counting on the parallel contribution of some isolated personalities. vigorous like that of A. Tàpies; many of its most significant exponents have had international fame and recognition and the group in Spain has maintained a leading position until the reactions that took place between 1960 and 1965. For its part, the Equipo 57, together with such important artists as the sculptor J. de Oteiza (dialectical antagonist of a great contemporary master such as E. Chillida), set his own research on form and space, posing the problem of group work and spatial relations with the new architecture, connecting, in such a way, with the Catalan architects of the Grupo R. Within this experimental sector it is worth noting the materialist basis that characterized the Equipo 57 and the metaphysical principle united in the work and theoretical formulations of J. de Oteiza. For Spain 2015, please check

1960 recorded the so-called controversy, in Spain, of the Normative Art, a discussion that served to update the ethical contents of constructivism, the problem of new architecture and the essential themes of industrial design. From this artistic and ideological situation arose the changes developed between 1960 and 1965, which included the rise of the Estampa Popular movement, the birth of the Nueva Figuracion and the appearance of the current called Crónica de la realidadEstampa Popular, composed of a group of engravers (initially gathered in Madrid, but which had rapid repercussions in various Spanish provinces), the problem of democratizing the artistic object and revitalizing art, carried out with transforming social intentions, was posed. Meanwhile, the theme of the Nueva Figuracion was taken on in 1961 by Grupo Hondo, formed by J. Genovés, G. Orellana (Chilean painter currently residing in Italy), J. Jardiel and F. Mignoni, to whom J. Vento and C. Sansegundo. The formation, in 1964, of the Equipo Crónica and, in 1965, the Crónica de la Realidad exhibitionand an exhibition by J. Genovés, with works with iconographic and idiomatic characteristics of that same current, gave Spanish art a double answer, both for the actualization of social currents and for the conventions of international Pop – art, immediately receiving, among others, such significant reinforcements as that constituted by the Equipo Realidad.

Leaving aside various and valid individual contributions, this scheme simplifies a period of post-war Spanish art, which includes the years between 1960 and 1965, the most important characteristic of which is the reaction to the informal, the concern for critical content. and the passage of the main names of neo-constructivism to realist positions. The breaking character of the period therefore seems clear. Since the end of the civil war, artistic culture had tried to contribute to cultural openness, however this process was only made possible thanks to the changes made at the socio-economic level, the contingent fame achieved by technocracy, the Stabilization Plan and the Plan of development. The regime of the “open door” to foreign capitalism and the extraordinary development of tourism industry modified the situational data of the artistic culture in the direction of opening, while maintaining strong particularities due to the internal trends of the country. This equally influenced the fields of industrial design and architecture.

At the margin of the movements mentioned above, a more conventional vision records, starting from 1960, the persistence of a line on which artists intent on rediscovering the Spanish landscape, such as B. Palencia, J. Vaquero Palacios, G. Ortega Muñoz and R. Zabaleta (died 1960). The continuing influence of D. Vàsques Diaz, J. Sunyer (died 1956), J. Mercadé (died 1967) and M. Villà is also important. The Valencian group, in reaction to the predominant influence of J. Sorolla, offered the names of JB Porcar, J. Lahuerta, P. de Valencia and F. Lozano. In the Expressionist current, which counts I. Nonell among the first exponents, there are a series of very different artists, such as F. Mateos, JM de Sucre, P. Gastó, J. Pacheco and L. García Ochoa. As regards the modified persistence of the surrealist legacy, the presence in Spain of J. Miró and Spain Dalì was undoubtedly fundamental; undoubtedly the surrealist trace proved important – with its own peculiarities – in the work, prior to 1946, by J. Caballero, in the artists of the groups Dau al Set (1948) and El Paso, as well as for J. Castillo and in a large sector of more recent Catalan painting, exemplified in the work of Porta Zush, Arranz Bravo and Bartolozzi. In the neo-figurative line, after 1960, one cannot omit the activity of P. Picasso and other important artists, who died like him in this period (P. Cossío, J. Peinado and F. Bores); in this very varied field, A. Quiròs stands out among others. Some artists, who have begun to work in the informal sphere, have maintained their adherence to the original sources in a different way; thus A. Tàpies who later introduced various elements into his art, including those coming from Arte Povera, M. Viola, J. José Tharrats, M. Millares (died 1972), A. Saura, R. Canogar, currently advocate of social realism, L. Muñoz, etc. The geometricizing poetics, leaving aside the aforementioned Equipo 57, find expression in the works of P. Palazuelo, JM de Labra, J. Claret and J. Michovila. And again it is worth noting the revival of a strong realist current, for which the influence of A. López García was fundamental, starting from the faithful reproduction of customary reality, with no apparent purpose other than that of realism and perfection, he has created a world full of mystery and unreality, in which the result exceeds the intention. The realist vocation, for which not without significance was the work of Estampa Popular, has formed a different current of social realism, to which artists as different as J. Ortega, A. Ibarrola, J. Duarte, Cortijo, A. Avia, A. Alcaìn and F. Somoza belong. In the context of critical realism, with the presence of oneiric factors and deliberately used kitsch elements, we find the divergent researches of E. Urculo, E. Arroyo and the young H. Silva. Under the hyperrealist influence one can cite the work of C. Bravo.

For the sculpture after 1960, the names of A. Sánchez (who died in Moscow in 1962) and A. Ferrant (who died in 1961), both very important since they symbolize the bridge that unites the Spanish artistic problems prior to 1936 to those after the war. However, Spanish sculpture after 1960 revolves around the names of P. Serrano, E. Chillida and J. de Oteiza. P. Serrano has undergone an evolution in a direction that ultimately leads to the symbolism of humanity – as a vital project – in the context of organic life and nature, in the context of an interminable becoming. On the other hand, the art of E. Chillida is not alien to the national traditions of the Basque people, reaching a happy synthesis between the personal language, the identification with modernity and symbolic processes with deep historical roots, which represent the cosmopolisation of a message clearly born from geographically and culturally localized sources. J. de Oteiza, in exchange, linked to the problematic of geometrism and suprematism, has come to a conception of space with liturgical meaning, from which the “unemployment of space” places the materiality of the work of art in the background in favor of a search for a “free spiritual place”.

Among the figurative sculptors we can mention F. Torres Monsò, v. Blanco, B. Lobo, JM Subirachs, M. Ortiz Berrocal, etc. Under distinct currents, we can distinguish the works of JL Sanches, R. Mendiburu, M. Martì, M. Villelia, F. Hernández, M. Chirino (one of the founders of the El Paso group), A. Gabino, A. Alfaro, X. Corberó, A. Rodríguez, E. Sempere (representative, as a painter, of a poetic geometrism), F. Sobrino (who was an important member of the Groupe de Récherche de l’Art Visuel of Paris), A. Duarte (coming from Equipo 57) which has preserved and developed the principles of research which, in 1957, had marked the dialectically opposite pole to informal positions, L. Frechilla, etc.

A lover of mural painting, but distinguished above all as an extraordinary poster artist, who gave a fundamental version of social art, J. Renau works in East Berlin, after having been in various countries of the American continent.

From the point of view of groups and movements, the Antes del Arte exhibitions (methodological hypothesis of an analytical type, preceding the “artistic” formulations), the exhibitions organized under the title of Muestra Española Nuevas Tendencias Estéticas (MENTE) and the proposals of cybernetic art, favored by the “Centro de Càlculo” of the University of Madrid. Basically, these experiences infiltrated in the years 1968 and 1969 an attitude that was a critical prelude to taking possession of the processes of commodification of the artistic object.

In the field of architecture, the authentic changes have been few, except for the research work (with scientific bases parallel to those used by Antes del Arte) promoted by R. Leoz, and the decorativist “revival” with which R. Bofill (not for nothing Catalan like A. Gaudì) reintroduces fantastic and decorative elements in the architectural field. On the other hand, between 1970 and 1975, socio-economic factors had a considerable importance, since in this last period there has been a considerable reversal and commercial euphoria of the art market (giving rise to a strong confusion for as regards cultural values), to an acute recession originating from the general crisis that has occurred in the economic field. This was useful to highlight the strong incidence of extra-artistic factors in the realities of the most recent Spanish art. It is from here that the marginal attempts of some epigones of international conceptualism (such as the Catalan Grup de Treball) and the search for formulas alien to the cultural degradation originated in the art market and in the gallery system.

Spain Figurative Arts