LET'S MAKE ART HISTORY LIKEWISE VISUAL

The approach to art is made from the sensory experience. Art is seen, heard, touched... Based on this experience through the senses, the classification of artistic disciplines has been historically addressed: visual arts, music, dance or theatre. But these categories present problems when the work feeds on two different techniques giving rise to hybrid creations, like the ones which incorporate sound and image, intervention and video, painting and screens, and an infinite number of combinations that enrich the current panorama of contemporary production.

Pablo Picasso, “Femme dans un fauteuil”, 1929. Museu colecçião Berardo, Lisboa. © Sucession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP. Madrid 2019

The visual burden of this approach to art is undeniable. But when we pass from pure experience to academic study, we face a knowledge always expressed in writing where the object of analysis is separated from its tangible reality and is transformed into an abstract and incorporeal idea to discuss and comment on. Almost all branches of knowledge have included a particular chapter dedicated, we could almost say, to self-analysis and self-evaluation. The development of a methodology for each field is a sign that there is a recognised and autonomous area of study, as is the case with art.

Alfred. H. Barr Jr., Diagram of stylistic evolution of art from 1980 to 1935, cover of “Cubism and Abstract Art”. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1936. Archivo Lafuente

The protagonists of the sector themselves have repeatedly questioned how art history has been approached, from academicism and theoretical narrative. Therefore, many of them have proposed alternative ways of exposing that knowledge with a greater visual load, paying homage to the works that make up the evolution of artistic creation.

These days the Juan March Foundation hosts the exhibition "Genealogies of art, or the history of art as visual art", in which we can see an interpretation of the famous diagram that Alfred H. Barr, Jr., that he proposed for the cover of the catalogue "Cubism and Abstract Art ”(1936) to explain the stylistic evolution of art from 1890 to 1935. This curator, who founded in 1929 of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) and was also its first director, wanted to synthesise in a graphic the significant landmarks of the transition art towards the s. XX to make it easy to assimilate at a glance.

Vasili Kandinsky, “Landscape with Two Poplars”, 1912, © Arthur Jerome Eddy Memorial Collection (via artic.edu)

On this scheme, the exhibition is presented as a documentary sample, with 350 works and more than 100 documents that mark the diagram in each of its historical marks. Works by avant-garde artists such as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Kazimir Malévich, César Domela, Francis Picabia, Robert Delaunay and Vasili Kandinsky, among others are collected. In addition, there are some works that were present in Barr's original exhibition, such as “Landscape with Two Poplars”, 1912, by Vasili Kandinsky and “Femme dans un fauteuil”, 1929, by Pablo Picasso.

 

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.