JUAN GRIS. Nature morte devant  lármoire, 1920.
Oleo sobre lienzo. 60×45 cm

The Telefónica collection consists of more than 1,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, photography and works on paper. The creation of this collection began in the 1980s with the intention of promoting the recognition of a series of under-represented Spanish artists in the state museums at the time. It was then when the works by Juan Gris, Tàpies, Chillida, Picasso and Luis Fernández were acquired, and over the next two decades, and with very distinct objectives from the outset, the collection would broaden to include other artistic paths.

As a result of this evolution, the Telefónica Collection has been considered “a collection of collections”, one able to be grouped according to the various subjects and which contains artists who are magnificently well represented in terms of both the quantity and quality of their work. With a national and international presence of greater or lesser known artists, the contents of the collection is diverse in terms of disciplines and artistic currents. Although it never had an encyclopaedic vocation, seen as a whole, it provides a window into some of the most significant movements of the 20th century: from Cubism, Surrealism, Informalism and Abstraction, to different trends in figurative painting. This goes without mentioning the contemporary photography collection, another area of great interest which brings together some of the most relevant artists in this field.

HIGHLIGHTS. Telefónica Collection, includes a selection of paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the most significant and iconic pieces in the collection, not only for the artistic style that these represent, but also for the importance and significance of the artist or the interest generated by other cultural institutions that have requested them on loan in recurrent exhibitions: Picasso, Gris, Magritte, Delvaux, Chillida and Tàpies, are examples of this. The works gathered together for this occasion at Esteban Vicente Contemporary Art Museum, do not follow a strict chronological path, but do make for a brief overview of some of the more interesting chapters of the history of 20th century art.

Sign and form

This area devotes two diferent rooms to the greats, the most international exponents of Spanish art: Tàpies and Chillida. Their works were acquired in the 1980s and they are the best represented artists in the Telefónica Collection.

After the tragedy of the World War II, art traversed a period marked by discontent and transcendence. The global centre for the arts moved from Paris to New York. The development of a complex and diverse style called Informalism took place, which would extend through Europe and the United States, in which the subject, the gesture, the absence of form and abstract art would generate numerous and interesting variants. Despite Spain’s isolation under Franco, the influence of Informalism would still reach the country and its ranks would swell with artists with enormous national and international relevance.

The two artists illustrate some of the different variants of this new language. Antoni Tàpies is a clear leader of interest to us due to the materiality of his painting, the imprint of the body and simple, commonplace materials, among others. He is undoubtedly one of the great representatives of Informalism. In contrast, the great sculptor Eduardo Chillida represents the purest geometric abstraction in his work. The Telefónica Collection has several printed works by the Basque artist and a considerable number of sculptures.

Echoes of the Avant-Garde

Through a selection acquired in recent decades, the works in this room provide a snapshot of some of the most important movements of the early 20th century avant-garde, a very intense artistic period in which artists gathered together in a Paris overflowing with creative energy.

The rupture with the previous pictorial tradition is perhaps most radically embodied in Cubism. Juan Gris, one of its most essential figures, is accompanied by other important names such as Louis Marcoussis, a leading representative of the late evolution of the Cubist movement. The powerful influence of this new style is also felt in other Spanish artists who passed through Paris, such as Luis Fernández, Celso Lagar and Hernando Viñes.

Surrealism, another of the great movements of the avant-garde, is represented in the collection by two of its greatest exponents: René Magritte and Paul Delvaux, whose enigmatic paintings illustrate their interest in Freud’s theories, the unconscious or the language of dreams. The organic and automatic landscape of the Chilean Roberto Matta or the personal style of Óscar Domínguez of the Canary Islands, show the different paths this great cultural movement had taken.

Special mention must go to the figure of Pablo Picasso. His boundless creativity led him to invent and traverse numerous styles throughout his life. He is undoubtedly the artist who best represents the 20th century. HIGHLIGHTS   HIGHLIGHTS. Telefónica Collection shows Picasso’s different techniques and stages in 4 works at the Esteban Vicente Contemporary Art Museum.

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