Cubism might be considered the cornerstone of modern art. However it’s an area that is frequently sidelined and limited to the canonical works of Picasso or Braque, whose contributions to the avant-garde movement took place over a limited period of time. A new exhibition at the Espacio Fundación Telefónica aims to change that.
The Cubist Collection goes beyond what the general public consider cubism, with selected works by Juan Gris, Georges Valmier, Albert Gleizes and more, to showcase Cubism as an art form rich in colour, advocating the capacities of form, integrating the sensual and the plastic together on canvas. The exhibition in the industrial space of the Espacio Fundación Telefónica takes us on a journey, depicting the varying façades of Cubism and its transformation throughout an art movement that lasted for decades.
More than just a distorted way of looking at things, Cubism is an art form that viewed everyday life from a fresh perspective, whether it was by drawing a still life from every viewable angle on the same canvas, or by constructing collages made from newspaper scraps that brought Cubism together with telecommunication. Through Cubism we gained a fresh pair of eyes allowing us to enjoy and revel in the simplicity of daily life. This “other” Cubism on display treads a fine line between modern classicism and abstraction, creating its own form of pictorial poetry.
Juan Gris, whose paintings mark the backbone of the exhibition, is a key player in alternative Cubism, from his still life “Verres, journal et bouteille de vin” which marries the Cubist love of the everyday object to the use of newspaper cuttings, to the classic still life paintings in oils. In the exhibition, the artist’s complex and diverse works are displayed, relaying his relationship with proportions and his “plastic rhymes.” His work went on to inspire artists such as María Blanchard, Albert Gleizes and André Lhote, whose work can be compared alongside.
The display of the Cubist collection at the Espacio Fundación Telefónica also relates how Juan Gris shaped modern art in Latin America, where artists such as Rafael Barradas and Emilio Pettoruti continued to use Gris as a point of reference.
The exhibition educates us on the width and breadth of Cubism beyond the scope of Picasso and Braque, with paintings, publications and interactive displays offering a variety of ways for the visitor to become engaged. With audiovisual accompaniments, such as a documentary on Juan Gris and various interactive panels, it brings Cubism and its importance in the history of art to the public.
With the curved lines of Rafael Barradas’s “Bodegon,” we can see that Cubism doesn’t just have to be sharp clinical lines, but can also manifest in sensual curves and bold, expressive colours, teaching us that it’s an art form that is not only mathematical, but capable of redefining and combining space, time and distance; that it’s versatile, expressive and passionate.
Access to the Cubist Collection is free of charge and is scheduled to run until January.
Jennifer is a professional freelance writer specialising mostly in art and travel. She's what you'd call a "euro-gypsy" coming from a mixed English/Hungarian background, and has lived in the UK, Hungary, Spain, Germany and Georgia (the country, not the state).