A Short Century: MACBA Collection

Rooms 1, 2, 3 and 4

The first decades of the twentieth century saw a rupture with established art forms and a profound transformation in the field of aesthetic reflection. The idea of there being an artistic avant-garde (advance guard), which adhered to values like the new and the original, led to a radical experimentation with materials and forms. Among the main trends of this vanguard were those that sought to construct artistic languages of the universal and utopian from an analytical approach to form.

The International Exposition of 1929 took place in Barcelona in the context of this tension between tradition and radicalism. It was an event that marked an important urban transformation in the city, responding to the desire to connect with new technical developments, as well as the introduction of the most advanced architectural and artistic languages of the international avant-garde. In addition to showing the world the degree of Catalan industrial development, the Exposition would strengthen Barcelona as a capital of tourism.

The Spanish Civil War(1936–39) was also a war of images in which artists and filmmakers were involved in the diffusion of the different political ideologies at stake through their corresponding aesthetic means. In the territory loyal to the Government of the Republic, poster design underwent a special development in which the advanced visual and typographic languages of the international avant-garde were used to communicate messages clearly to a mass audience.

In cinema, the contribution made by the anarchist movement through the Unified Trade Union of Public Entertainment of the CNT (a confederation of anarchist labour unions), with the production of films addressing subjects including the collectivising revolution in agriculture as well as the role of the militias, was fundamental to the anti-Fascist resistance. The involvement of artists in the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic at the 1937 Paris International Exposition reveals the use of art for the internationalisation of the conflict and to generate support.

In the years after the Civil War and following the end of the Second World War, artists explored divergent forms of abstraction. While this has been articulated as a tension between abstract geometric and concrete art on the one hand, and an abstraction that explored matter and an informel aesthetic on the other, these two principal tendencies also had degrees of proximity. Even though later forms of concrete art continued in the tradition of earlier utopian abstraction advanced by an international avant-garde, nevertheless elements of organicism, biomorphism and gesture began to be used. Similarly instances of geometric form can be detected in the more material abstraction.

While associated with a resurgent bourgeoisie, as well as a counter to it, both tendencies were a means to deal with the creation of art in the aftermath of so much war and violence. They can be seen not necessarily as a way to avoid the consequences of conflict, but instead as techniques to examine, even if indirectly, the nature of humanity.

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  • In the subsequent spaces, the exhibition addresses the Spanish Civil War through the images and propaganda of the conflict, and the advent in the post-war era of a new generation of artists who through the divergent languages of abstraction explored the tensions and scars caused by the dictatorship. ...

    L'exposició està pensada per explicar la història de l’art modern i contemporani a través de les perspectives particulars, polítiques i temes que la Col·lecció MACBA va desenvolupar des del seu començament.

  • The publication The MACBA Collection. Selected works presents 193 prominent works from the museum's holdings. The MACBA Collection, shaped by the various directors and curatorial teams, and characterised by its international vision, brings together specialised works and documents dating from the ...

  • The presentation is designed to tell the history of modern and contemporary art through the particular perspectives, politics and themes developed in the MACBA Collection since its inception. It is also a history presented specifically from the perspective of Barcelona.

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    Tipus d'obra

    L'Exposició Internacional que va tenir lloc a Barcelona en el 1929 va comportar una transformació urbana molt important a la ciutat. L'esdeveniment responia al desig de connectar amb nous desenvolupaments tècnics i amb els llenguatges artístics i arquitectònics més avançats de l'avantguarda internacional. A més de mostrar el món el potent desenvolupament industrial català, l'Exposició va projectar Barcelona com a capital turística.

  • Between 1928 and 1932, Joaquín Torres García, now settled in Paris after years of study in Barcelona, developed a pictorial language rooted in Constructivism that later became his singular contribution to the art of the twentieth century. It was a language built on a framework of affinity and ...

    Tipus d'obra

    Torres García sempre va buscar valors plàstics absoluts, com una forma o un color, en un plantejament clarament neoplatònic i universalista.

  • Known internationally as Pierre Daura, this Catalan painter born in 1896 arrived in Paris at the age of eighteen. Together with Joaquín Torres-García and Michel Seuphor, in 1929–30 he formed the group and magazine Cercle et Carré, which favoured geometrical abstraction over Surrealism. Other ...

    Tipus d'obra

    Daura creà una pintura en què les masses de colors funcionen com a camps compositius. Es tracta d’una pintura sòlida i vibrant que, sense renunciar al rigor de la geometria, conté elements figuratius.

  • These two mobile sculptures by Alexander Calder were donated by the artist to the Catalan architect Germán Rodríguez Arias (1902–1987), a pioneer of rationalist architecture in Catalonia, founder member of the GATCPAC and a friend of the architect Josep Lluís Sert. It was Sert who introduced Calder ...

    Tipus d'obra

    Calders va trobar en les noves teories del sistema solar un marc conceptual que li va permetre configurar un univers creatiu amb elements esfèrics mínims que giren a la manera de planetes. Com en l’univers, l’equilibri del conjunt preval per damunt dels elements. Com en el model del real, unes regles ocultes mantenen la coherència del sistema.

  • This publication looks at the kinetic art produced from the 1920s through to the 1970s, which speculated on possible models of the cosmos, new ways of understanding the body in space, and the transformation of matter. Starting with the first mobiles by Alexander Calder and the work of Georges ...

  • Considered to be one of the country’s first kinetic artists, much of Leandre Cristòfol’s work concerns the idea of movement. Stimulated by the works of Àngel Ferrant as well as Alexander Calder and Jean Tinguely, Construcció lírica (Lyrical Construction) responds to the quest for balance between ...

    Tipus d'obra

    Tot i la seva aparent simplicitat, l’equilibri de les formes diagonals i el filferro que travessa les formes i les interrelaciona articulen un tot de gran coherència. Com en altres obres, Cristòfol aconsegueix una poètica de l’objet trouvé.

  • Although he also made paintings and drawings, Alberto was most widely recognised for his sculptural production, in which two creative moments stand out: the thirties, in Madrid, and his later years in exile in Moscow. The work in the MACBA Collection Signo de mujer rural en un camino, lloviendo (Sig ...

    1925 - 1930
    Tipus d'obra

    «Algunes vegades són [les escultures] més representatives que d’altres, però en general no persegueix mai la mimesi figurativa. Així i tot, malgrat que no siguin convencionalment recognoscibles, sempre ens són familiars. [...] Aquesta familiaritat és el resultat del reconeixement d’un objecte que, tanmateix, també hi és.» (Colección CAPA. Diputació de Còrdova, Junta d’Andalusia, Diputació de Huelva i Ajuntament d’Alacant, 1998, p. 244.)

  • From 1944 to 1950, Miró created a dozen small-scale major works featuring a series of characters, highly stylised heads and birds that he modelled in clay and reproduced in bronze and terracotta. The plaster versions of many of these works have been part of the MACBA Collection since they were ...

    Tipus d'obra

    Miró evoca una dualitat còsmica recurrent en el conjunt de la seva obra: el joc de forces oposades i alhora complementàries entre el sol i la lluna, el dia i la nit, el principi femení i el masculí.

  • "Gego: Defying Structures" shows the work of Gertrud Goldschmidt, better known as Gego. Of German origin and trained as an architect, Gego developed her artistic work in Venezuela where she immigrated in 1939. Her work breaks away from constructive parameters where space, line and drawing hold ...

  • Gego, the name adopted by the artist Gertrude Goldschmidt, created a body of work that never adapted itself to any artistic movement. Her artwork was devoted to the line, with which she drew in either two or three dimensions, and enhanced by her use of different materials, often simple or recycled, ...

    Tipus d'obra

    Gego va investigar la relació entre la forma i l’espai, i va considerar que aquest últim era un element actiu en l’obra. Les seves abstraccions geomètriques, definides per la quadrícula, sovint defugen l’exactitud matemàtica i en lloc seu exploren formes orgàniques.

  • The work of Gego (Gertrud Goldsmith), an artist born in Hamburg who later immigrated to Venezuela, offers an excellent example of the development of abstract art in Latin America. Through a selection of pieces produced between 1958 and 1988, this catalogue shows the different facets of her work. It ...

  • Una ciutat nòmada, New Babylon, consistia en una àmplia xarxa d’espais interiors de diversos nivells que es propagaria per cobrir, eventualment, el planeta. Cada aspecte de l’entorn podia ser controlat i reconfigurat de forma espontània. Es tractava d’una urbs lúdica on els neobabilonis serien lliures per crear i recrear la ciutat al seu gust.

  • El 1953 Dubuffet es va embarcar en una sèrie de pintures caracteritzades per un traç ampli, amb un domini de la matèria i el gest, més que de la representació.

  • In an attempt to overcome matter Expressionism and open up new avenues of artistic expression, Lucio Fontana publishes his Manifesto Bianco (White Manifest) in 1946. He develops his theory of Spatialism, which promotes the abolition of the illusory space of painting and its replacement by real ...

    Tipus d'obra

    El reconeixement de l’existència d’un espai il·limitatl du a Fontana a la conquesta d’una nova dimensió perceptiva, de manera que les seves intervencions s’expandeixen cap a l’espai físic que hi ha al voltant de l’obra i cap a l’espectador.

  • In 1929, Anni Albers came to Barcelona for the International Exposition, and in particular to visit the German pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. She was then working as a teacher at the Bauhaus, where she had studied abstract art and textile design as a student. Albers dedicated her life to teaching ...

    Tipus d'obra
    Graphic material

    Connections, un conjunt de serigrafies sobre paper que condensen el llenguatge formal i experimental d’Annie Albers. Una calculada composició de línies horitzontals i verticals de diferents gruixos configura una trama de gran intensitat cromàtica. Damunt d’un fons blanc, línies en vermell, groc, gris i negre converteixen l’obra en un vertader camp cinètic.

  • En els anys quaranta, Albers va experimentar amb el gravat en diferents superfícies, entre d’altres, la fusta. Els seus gravats realcen la naturalesa orgànica de la veta natural de la fusta, que incorporava a la composició, en contrast amb la pròpia línia geomètrica.

  • Seen in perspective, maybe I could say that what is happening to me is what happens to those writers who deep down are always writing the same book. With the possible variations that my work might have suffered from my long career, I consider the whole of my production a single work. Antoni Tàpies, ...

    Si haguéssim d’assenyalar amb un únic element l’aportació d’Antoni Tàpies a l’estètica
    del nostre segle, no podríem sinó referir-nos al tractament especial que donà als
    materials, a la seva recerca constant de la pròpia materialitat de l’obra d’art. Tàpies va
    desenvolupar aquest aspecte fonamentalment mitjançant les anomenades pintures
    matèriques, un tipus de pintures caracteritzades per superfícies denses i pintades en
    una limitada gamma de colors, en la que predominen els ocres, grisos i marrons i que
    presenten una aparença de mur. El que l’artista pretén és que l’espectador percebi la
    matèria en un estat de moviment i canvi constants, un estat que s’oposa a la
    fragmentació i compartimentalització del món contemporani.

  • The seventies, a time of political and social upheaval in Barcelona, was a volatile period for contemporary art as Informalism gave way to the Neo-Figurative explosion of the eighties. The exhibition Painting of the Seventies in Barcelona offered a survey of this period through the work of artists ...

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