Comptar i numerar les pigues d'una part del braç per part dels assistents, 1973/1992

Counting and Numbering the Freckles of a Part of the Arm by the Attendees, 1973/1992
Photograph, 139 x 103.5 cm

Francesc Abad (Terrassa, 1944) studied at the Escola d’Arts i Oficis, Terrassa, and the Centre de documentation pédagogique, Paris. He entered the art world through painting, his work focusing on the extreme simplification of forms and an almost total reduction of colour and graphic elements. In 1972 he moved to New York. Museum visits, contacts with other artists living in the city, direct experience of Minimalism, then the cutting-edge fashion, came to influence his later practice. Upon returning to Barcelona ​​a few months later, he became one of the active members of the Grup de Treball.

Abad’s artistic career is guided by a utopian desire to transform reality through art. In the context of Conceptual art and the Catalan scene of the seventies, there coexisted a mixture of trends that had developed in the international arena, such as Body art, Land art, etc. Of all of Francesc Abad’s work of that period, conceptually dedicated to nature, one stands out that is dedicated to the four elements: fire, earth, air and water. Made in 1972, it was first exhibited in 1973 in the Documentos (Documents) series, an event that brought together projects on the natural elements by various artists, including Jordi Benito, Antoni Muntadas and Francesc Torres, among others.

At that time, Abad made an easy transition from the experiences of Land art to Body art. The body as an aspect of nature was also the subject of actions, as in Comptar i numerar les pigues d’una part del braç per part dels assistents (Counting and numbering the freckles on a part of the arm by the assistants). This action took place on 1 December 1973 within the exhibition Terrassa. Informació d'Art. The title of the piece describes the action taken by the participants, with photography appearing as a medium that is fully integrated and implicit in the conception and execution of the action. The pragmatic and empirical conception of the work is reflected in the definition of his working method: ‘For me, the production of art is based on a phased, progressive sequence that begins with a proposal, is structured into a project and sets out in search of a documentation that provides me with an understanding, from which I draw a reflection/intention, manifested in a thought by means of an image, which seeks to be a reflection of reality.’

His work became more independent in a process of radicalisation that extended almost until 1978, when he began a new and more philosophical type of reflection about man. This process involved an approximation between the scientific and artistic, and texts began to appear as an integral part of the work. In 1979, Abad initiated a process of study and appropriation of texts by the great Western thinkers, which became the core of his projects. In particular, the writings of Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt became the intellectual beacons behind his installations. Abad’s literary references come from very different fields and personalities, but invariably share a rebellious attitude against injustice and the curtailing of individual freedom, and therefore encourage a critical awareness with regard to the power factions within contemporary societies.

Technical details

Original title:
Comptar i numerar les pigues d'una part del braç per part dels assistents
Registration number:
Abad, Francesc
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan
Object type:
Gelatin silver print. Documentation of the action
139 x 103.5 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan. National Collection of Art
© Francesc Abad, VEGAP, Barcelona
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