Joan Brossa and his extensive legacy



Joan Brossa in his studio




Joan Brossa was born in Barcelona in 1919. He gave up his studies because of the Spanish Civil War, in which he took part in the Republican side. He developed his artistic practice in the 1940s, in Barcelona, in a social-political context marked by Franco’s dictatorship and the absence of avant-garde and innovative proposals. In 1947 he founded the ‘Dau al Set’ group, with Modest Cuixart, Joan Ponç, Arnau Puig, Antoni Tàpies and Joan-Josep Tharrats. In 1950s his poetry veered radically towards social commitment that continued in the sixties, coexisting with an interest in a more conceptual approach. He experimented intensively with visual poetry and object poems, genres that he would continue to practice for the rest of his life. He was influenced by Lettrism, visual, concrete, experimental and expanded poetry, and Fluxus, as well as by the poetry of artists such as Marcel Marien (1920-1993), Nicanor Parra (1914) and Ian Hamilton-Finlay (1925-2006).




Joan Brossa




Joan Brossa work consists on a very extensive production, where different artistic disciplines coexist. Up until his death, in 1998, his extensive production never ceased to develop new forms of expression. One year after the artist´s death, the Joan Brossa Foundation was set up to take on the task of cataloguing and preserving the Brossa’s personal archive, which includes the original manuscripts of his artistic and literary works, facsimiles, translations of literary works, correspondence, a range of pamphlets, invitations, posters, articles and press clippings, documents of his political and social activities, an assortment of photographs, administrative paperwork (invoices, receipts, accounts), etc. Joan Brossa’s library (formed by six thousand books and a similar number of magazines), as well as his personal archive and art collection were deposited with the MACBA Study Centre in 2012.




Joan Brossa



The exhibition, curated by Teresa Grandas and Pedro G. Romero, pursues to interrelate Brossa´s works with the practice of other artists. It will allow visitors to establish parallels and seek dialogues and tensions. It also aims to emphasise the performative aspects of Brossa’s poetic practice. It includes more than 60.000 pieces, most of them never shown before: documents, books, publications, posters, photographs and his well known visual poems.


Joan Brossa




Visitors will be able to approach the artist´s artworks, from his first publications to his latest visual investigations, including his work in the theatre, cinema, music and artistic actions, until next February 25.




Joan Brossa




Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.