The illusion of far west in Thyssen Museum Madrid

 

 

 

Sitting Bull, Billy the Kid, dusty plains with herds of buffalo, wild horses scanning the horizon and the paradisiac waterfalls... The exhibition "Illusion of the Far West" is a myth and a romantic enthusiasm, and a topical and colonizing argument, too but it presses the appropriate key to leave us, once again, shocked because of its landscapes, the dignity of the wild Indians, their communion with the most exuberant nature, its connection with all powerful gods... and with how those all discoveries of the painters and artists of the nineteenth century ended up going through the filter of the market and cinema, transforming those "noble savages" into a parody of misery, in the story of a disappearance announced.

 

 

 

 

The exhibition, curated by the artist Miguel Angel Blanco, brings together more than 200 pieces including paintings, photographs, prints, books, comics, movie posters, ethnographic pieces ... and so resembles a curio cabinet that blends art pieces and objects, "treasures" of that nature (precious stones, weapons, fossils, turtle shells, ...). As Guillermo Solana, director of the museum, has explained "it is a time when museums are too predictable, we have wanted to go up to that time when there was no division between art and nature, and where fantasy and reality go hand by hand. A moment in which the Indian territory had already been occupied and most of its inhabitants exterminated with their cultural traditions ".

 

 

 

 

Early Spanish explorers during the sixteenth century, the first contact with native tribes, landscapes and photographs of artists of the nineteenth and Thomas Hill, Henry Lewis, Albert Bierstadt, Carleton E. Watkins, they marked an exciting episode in the history Art, being the eyes that saw the exoticism and grandeur of the new conquered lands and its inhabitants for the first time. Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to the Indian chiefs, with their headdresses, body-painting and their objects of power. For the first time in Spain we can see the famous portraits by George Catlin and Karl Bodmer, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and Joseph - they offered themselves to record their image and power. Edward S. Curtis was the author of the photographic series The American Indian, a controversial and valuable artistic and ethnographic legacy, today largely lost, from which they have been selected multiple images. Curtis portrayed Indian Chiefs when they went to the capital to try to keep the rights of their peoples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the curator of the exhibition, has presented a set of book-boxes from his Forest Library made with materials from the territories of the American West. Until 7 February at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid we can stroll through the political, military and strategic US history, and take a tour of building his own legend as a nation. The rest of the world have drunkthis legend in cinemascope format and posters of Comanche, The Return of a Man Called Horse...

 

 

 

 

Among the parallel activities to the exhibition there is a visit called "Death had a price," this Saturday November 14 at the Meadow of Navalvillar de Colmenar Viejo, location of important westerns as "The Good, the Bad and bad "with Clint Eastwood," The last adventure of General Custer "with Robert Shaw," Three outlaws and a gunman "with Lee Marvin and" Django "with Franco Nero. This activity is aimed at students and graduates in Fine Arts, History Art, Museology, Philosophy, Communication Sciences, interdisciplinary practices and working artists.
 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.