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Index

9

Prologue

15

Painting Cristina Mendoza

15 22 37 44 48 50

77

PAINTING AT THE TIME OF THE 1888 UNIVERSAL EXHIBITION RAMON CASAS AND SANTIAGO RUSIÑOL THE PAINTERS OF THE ‘CERCLE DE SANT LLUC ’ AND SYMBOLISM RAMON CASAS AND BARCELONA FRANCESC GIMENO AND NICOLAU RAURICH ‘ELS QUATRE GATS’ AND THE SECOND GENERATION OF ‘MODERNISTA’ PAINTERS

Graphic Arts: drawings Francesc Quílez i Corella

84 96 100 102

113

RAMON CASAS AND SANTIAGO RUSIÑOL ISIDRE NONELL FRANCESC GIMENO EPILOGUE

Decorative Arts Mariàngels Fondevila

116 122 136 142 147 152

159

THE HISTORY OF THE COLLECTION ‘DESIGNER’ ARCHITECTS ‘ENSEMBLIER’/DECORATORS OBJET’S D’ART, ‘MINOR ARTS’ BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW THE END OF ‘MODERNISME’

Sculpture Mercè Doñate

159 165 185

189

CHRISTIAN IDEALISM SYMBOLISM A NEW GENERATION OF SCULPTORS

Graphic Arts: Posters, Prints and Book-plates Francesc Quílez i Corella

189 210 212

221

ADVERTISING ART THE COLLECTION OF PRINTS THE COLLECTION OF B OOK-PLATES

Bibliography Compiled by

Adela L aborda


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Prologue

A. Z ERKOWITZ . Park Güell, MNAC .

FAÇADES OF THE C ASA A MATLLER AND THE C ASA BATLLÓ . Fundació Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic. Arxiu Mas.

odernisme, one of Barcelona’s best visiting cards, is amply represented at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which keeps the country’s most important collection of Modernista art in terms both of quality and of quantity. What’s more, a visit to the MNAC’s permanent collection is a must for anyone wanting to find out about the period’s different creative fields. In this respect, the renovation in the visual arts, one of the aspects that best define this unique aesthetic movement, is perfectly illustrated in the course of the different exhibition sections. Most prominent are the famous artists whose sensitivity and creativity helped to promote a stylistic trend that followed intuition rather than any programme. Precisely this absence of any collective spirit is what makes it difficult to define the language that developed during the course of this period according to any common features. A characteristic of the MNAC’s Modernista collection is therefore that it reflects this diversity which, far from being a limitation, made a positive and enriching contribution to the complexity Modernisme conceals; a concept that is difficult to grasp as it takes different aesthetic paths which in turn allow different readings and interpretations. The urge for change and the interest in novelties arriving from other more dynamic art centres, not forgetting its own local roots, stirred one of the most fruitful episodes in the history of Catalan art.

M

A large part of the Modernista paintings, sculptures and graphic work entered the Museum more or less during the actual Modernista period. This was not so, however, in the case of the collection of decorative arts, whose essential nucleus didn’t come to form part of the Museum’s collections until well into the 1960s. Looking back, this lack of interest in a heritage which is so valuable today is difficult to understand, but it was a result, firstly, of the fact that the success of the Noucentista movement after the second decade of the twentieth century dethroned Modernista architecture and objets d’art from the privileged position they had occupied during the last years of the nineteenth century and the first of the twentieth and, secondly, of their very nature as utilitarian and functional items, which in the course of time became outdated. The years after the Spanish Civil War were not at all favourable, either, for the defence of Modernista architecture and interior decoration. To the quite understandable rejection on the part of those generations who had been overwhelmed by Modernista aesthetics, was then added the relentless property speculation of the 1960s in Barcelona. At that time, not only was no effort at all made by the institutions to preserve the Modernista architectural heritage, but some Modernista buildings of unquestionable interest were even demolished. Needless to say, the interior decoration of these buildings suffered the same fate. Paradoxically, the neglect suffered by the decorative arts of Modernisme during this period of time was in the long run to benefit the Museum, which from 1960 began gradually to enlarge its collections with the extensive series of outstanding works which today make it the institution with the most numerous and most important collection of Modernista objets d’art. Indeed, the successful initiative by Joan Ainaud Lasarte, di9


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C ASA B ATLLÓ , Dining room, 1927. Fundació Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic. Arxiu Mas.

rector of Barcelona’s Museums of Art from 1948 to 1985, who organised an exhibition of Las artes decorativas del modernismo barcelonés, was decisive in stirring Barcelona’s official institutions to involve themselves in the purchase of important Modernista works or collections before the passage of time and the inevitable increase in their economic value prevented their addition to the Museum’s collections. The exhibition was inaugurated in the autumn of 1964 at the Palau de la Virreina in Barcelona and gathered a total of 634 works including furniture, ceramics, jewellery, stained glass, precious metals and drawings. The star exhibit was the decoration and furniture from the main floor of Casa Lleó Morera, an emblematic building by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner forming part of the famous Mançana de la Discòrdia (‘Apple of Discord’) on Passeig de Gràcia. This collection was purchased for the Museum two years later. Growing interest in Modernisme in general and the decorative arts in particular came to a peak soon afterwards with the great exhibition titled El Modernismo en España and inaugurated in the autumn of 1964 at the Casón del Buen Rretiro in Madrid and subsequently at the Museu d’Art Modern de Barcelona. These two exhibitions, in 1964 and 1969-1970, not only helped to preserve a heritage 10

E XHIBITION E L M ODERNISMO EN E SPAÑA , Barcelona, 1970. Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona. Author: R amon Calvet.

which could have been irremediably lost, they also raised awareness in Catalan institutions and Catalan society over the need to add this heritage to the Museum’s collections. The situation was very different when it came to the painting, sculpture and graphic arts of Modernisme, which, as we saw, entered the Museum’s collections almost at the same time as the works were being produced. This was due to the acquisitions policy, first of all, of Barcelona City Hall and, secondly, of the Junta de Museus (Board of Museums), which made it possible to add first-rate works, mainly from the Exhibitions of Fine Arts held in Barcelona during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first of the twentieth. In this respect, it’s highly revealing that when the Museu d’Art de Catalunya was opened in 1934 the Modernista painters, sculptors and illustrators filled a large part of the space devoted to housing the Catalan art of those decades. The difference in the reception given Modernista painting and drawing and that given Modernista sculpture and decorative arts lies mainly in the fact that the former had no formal characteristics to identify them with Modernista art, as the Impressionist legacy existed side by side with symbolism and naturalism. In fact, some of the painters whose work was produced during the period of Modernisme are also considered Modernista painters, even though they didn’t share the same determination to renovate Catalan art and culture defended by progressive artists and could even be described as frankly hostile to any renewal. We mustn’t forget that the term Modernista originally 11


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had a marked tone of disparagement. Nevertheless, the fact that they were all profoundly influenced by the artistic culture in Paris, then the undisputed centre of international art and therefore the city in which most artists completed their period of training, influenced conservative artists as much as it did progressive artists, whereas their ideology was hardly reflected in their artistic production and naturally therefore from today’s perspective they are all considered Modernista artists. This is why painting and drawing weren’t left to one side once the Modernista period was over. On the other hand, the most prominent and innovative sculptors adopted a symbolist language which makes it possible to differentiate clearly between their strictly Modernista production and the conventional sculpture anchored in outmoded anecdotalism much to the liking of the public, while in the decorative arts the arrival of models from Europe’s ‘other Modern Styles’, along with the rediscovery of Catalonia’s medieval past, were the point of departure for architects and interior designers to embark on exceptional work coinciding with Barcelona’s urban transformation. In poster work too there was greater stylistic unity. Advertising art became one of the most favourable forms of expression for introducing novelty and the different artists who worked in this field took their inspiration from international trends, adopting bright, shiny colours, concise graphics, unusual points of view and foreshortening and a compositional structure that broke with more traditional and conventional visual postulates. The spread of all these changes also contributed to a new type of collecting, that of advertising art, which with its open-minded attitude helped to build up collections which, years later, were to enrich the public collections of the future MNAC. In this respect, it’s worth pointing out that one of the most unusual features of this collection is its international and cosmopolitan nature, as it includes work by European and NorthAmerican artists.

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E LS Q UATRE G ATS , 1904. Fundació Institut Amatller d’Art Hispánic. Arxiu Mas.

M ODERNISTA

ROOM , MNAC .

To the circumstances briefly described here (the different chapters of this book deal with the various artistic disciplines in the MNAC’s collections), was added the fact that the first museum of fine arts was inaugurated in Barcelona in 1891. This initiative undoubtedly benefited the Catalan artists of the time as it was absolutely necessary to increase the then meagre collections of the newborn museum. If we bear in mind that this happened at the beginning of the prodigious decade of the 1890s, during which Modernisme would come to dominate the art scene in Barcelona, it’s easy to conclude that the Modernista artists (in the broad sense explained above) would be the principal beneficiaries. Since then their works have taken pride of place in that museum and the successive changes of museum that took place during the twentieth century (Museu d’Art de Catalunya, Museu d’Art Modern) didn’t disperse the collection, which has remained one of the pillars of the collection of Catalan art kept at the MNAC today.

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Modernisme and the MNAC collections - Index  
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