The background on which this exhibition is literally outlined is the work De entre las muertas [From the Dead] (2020) by the artist Diana Larrea, who has traced the margins of History of Art to restore forgotten genealogies of women artists from the Renaissance up to the beginning of the 20th century. These women artists are joined by other ones from younger generations enabling us to think in the present tense.
COLLECTION XX: HISTORY OF ART
Colección XX: Historia del Arte
The starting point of this exhibition is programmatic. Since the 60s, contemporary art has been developed under a representation regime marked by several uprisings: May 68, Stonewall, the second wave of feminism or independence of countries subject to European colonial empires. The early days of performance art, conceptual art or institutional criticism coincided chronologically with these social transformations. However, rather than being seen as consequences of the latter, these artistic movements need to be understood as symbolic forms that resonate with changes to political order and which, at the same time, are a vehicle for new possibilities of aesthetic production of subjectivities, new forms of life. Therefore, contemporary history of art is necessarily open like the works it studies, questioning the immobility of a singular narrative. This means we should talk about multiple histories of art, in lower case.
Institutions’ collections are a collective legacy and, as such, constitute the space where History of Art, with capital letters, is constructed. For this reason, it’s a public right and institutional responsibility to appropriate this History of Art. On the one hand, this represents an exercise that allows the canon (structurally misogynist) to be called into question, which orders our museum collections. On the other, it broadens the subject studied in this discipline, in other words, it produces a historiography where so much more fits…. meaning it embraces the other half of our society, which is clearly underrepresented.
The background on which this exhibition is literally outlined is the work De entre las muertas [From the Dead] (2020) by the artist Diana Larrea (Madrid, 1972), who has traced the margins of History of Art to restore forgotten genealogies of women artists from the Renaissance up to the beginning of the 20th century. At the CA2M collection, where our mission is to collect the History of Contemporary Art in Madrid, this task is yet to be carried out, but this exhibition opens a conversation about the efforts already underway. Works by key figures such as the painter Isabel Villar (Salamanca, 1934), such as the winners of the National Prize for Plastic Arts, Eva Lootz (Vienna, 1940) and Concha Jerez (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1941), join forces with those by women artists from the following generations, like the sculptural works by María Luisa Fernández (Villarejo de Órbigo, León, 1955) or Begoña Goyenetxea (Barcelona, 1958) or pictorial works by Felicidad Moreno (Lagartera, Toledo, 1959). Their artworks have recently been acquired to fill in gaps that have existed in the CA2M Collection since the mid-80s, supported by the generosity and care with which these artists or their galleries have looked after them to date.
These women artists are joined by other ones from younger generations enabling us to think in the present tense: about public space and political art in Madrid, through the work of María María Acha-Kutscher (Lima, 1968); industrial production systems through Paula García-Masedo (Madrid, 1984) and about artistic precariousness in Olalla Gómez’s production (Madrid, 1982); through Clara Sánchez Sala’s reflections from the studio (Alicante, 1987) or even through the archive of the remains of Cristina Mejías’s own work (Jerez de la Frontera, 1986).
There has been a structural excuse in museums for the male domination of exhibits. In the case of CA2M, our collections were set up in the early 80s, when feminist sensibilities were still in the minority, despite the many political and civil rights victories. Today, we believe that there is no justification whatsoever for key women artists to be left out of a public contemporary art collection, or for not paying attention to artistic production in the present tense or not complying with the Equality Act, which stipulates gender parity be observed in our institutions. There’s no longer any excuse for histories of art to miss out names. This exhibition is a proposal stemming from the desire to create a great History of Art that is yet to come; one that truly merits capital letters as it is equal, critical and fairer.
Tania Pardo y Manuel Segade
María María Acha-Kutscher
María Luisa Fernández
Clara Sánchez Sala
With the support of
In museums like ours, experience appeals to the whole body, with its distinctive features, its desires and different possibilities. Performance is the way contemporary art refers to artistic productions that place the body, its articulation of presence and the temporality of its actions, at the heart of its proposal.
The pieces in this exhibition, from the CA2M and Fundación ARCO collections, enable us to trace the history of the use of textiles in contemporary art from the 70s to the present day.