Juan Muñoz studied at Croydon College and the Croydon School of Art and Design in London, and at the Pratt Graphic Center in New York, where he worked as an assistant to Mario Merz and came into contact with Richard Serra, who became a major influence on work. Since his first solo show at Fernando Vijande gallery, Juan Muñoz’s work has consistently been shown at galleries, art centres and museums around the world, gradually establishing him one of Europe’s most renowned artists. He overhauled the language of contemporary culture by introducing an updated figurative and narrative status.
Many of his figures, which have a significant conceptual component, express the communication gap and the scarcity of points of reference that characterise late twentieth century society. From the nineties onwards, Muñoz began to produce narrative works that link tradition and contemporaneity. His groups of slightly smaller than life-size figures in unusual architectural environments appeal directly to the observer and bring about mutual interaction. His works draw from the history of Western culture by means of references to Mannerism and the Baroque. Aside from his sculptures, Muñoz’s body of work includes drawings and texts and also works for radio, some of which were broadcast by the BBC. In 2000, he received Spain’s Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas and his installation Double Bind opened at the Tate Modern in London. Louise Bourgeois was the only artist who had been invited to transform the huge Turbine Room before him. At the peak of his career, when his retrospective exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington was about to open, Juan Muñoz died suddenly, at the age of 48.
Major exhibitions of his work have been held at the CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux (1987), the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin (1994), the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía in Madrid (1996), Stedelijk Museum in Ghent (2000) and the Tate Modern in London (2000 and 2008), among many others. His work forms part of numerous collections such as the New York MoMA, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, the Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen, the Stedelijk Museum in Ghent, the Tate Gallery in London and MACBA in Barcelona.
Gold does not take on any dirt. And gold, just are diamonds, is an exalted material. It possesses such a degree of abstraction that it encounters you –if you use it artistically– on an already exalted level.