Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona
Parc de Montjuïc
artists & participants
The Point of Sculpture
An analysis of the emergence and evolution of modern and contemporary sculpture
October 15, 2021–March 6, 2022
The Fundació Joan Miró presents The Point of Sculpture, an exhibition conceived by curator and sculptor David Bestué that addresses the major transformation that the practice of sculpture has undergone in the 21st century, while also taking stock of the impact that the origins of the discipline continue to exert on artists today.
Throughout its seven sections, the show, sponsored exclusively by the BBVA Foundation, delves into fundamental aspects of the practice of sculpture. A large part of the over 100 selected pieces includes works that illustrate the origin and the burgeoning of contemporary sculpture. In addition, the show unfolds beyond the temporary exhibition rooms, presenting pieces by contemporary artists in other spaces within the Fundació Joan Miró.
“Ars Infamis” is the title of the first section in the exhibition, which addresses the evolution of the concept of the copy. Ever since the Renaissance, sculpting by casting with moulds was considered a minor practice. Later on, some artists adopted these practices precisely to confront the pretence of authorship. This first area shows a variety of techniques for copying objects and displays some of the moulds that Antoni Gaudí used for the façade of the Sagrada Familia along with more contemporary pieces by prominent artists like Bruce Nauman and Karin Sander.
Although until the first decades of the 20th century, form prevailed over matter in sculpture, contemporary practices tend to break down that formal hierarchy and experiment with all sorts of materials. The second area in the exhibition, titled Raw, includes pieces by Dieter Roth and Robert Smithson, as well as Eva Lootz and Pamela Rosenkranz, all known for their bold use of materials.
“Space” is the title of the next section, which explores the physical properties at the root of any sculptural work. This room features works by artists who made decisive contributions to changing the course of the practice of sculpture in the 20th century, such as Alexander Calder, Carl André, Richard Serra, Marisa Merz and, more recently, Isa Genzken.
Blurring the conventional boundaries between subject and object is another one of the quests that have contributed to the evolution of modern and contemporary sculpture. In “Double Object,” sculpture is presented as an interplay of mutations which also leads to the practice of recycling. The selected pieces for this area are by Robert Gober, Apel·les Fenosa, Ester Partegàs and Joan Miró, among others. The fifth section addresses the relationship between sculpture and time. “Present Continuous” displays anonymous archaeological pieces created to freeze time, shown alongside works by internationally-renowned contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn and Pipilotti Rist.
Next, “The Point of Sculpture” moves into an area focused on the human body, a central challenge and point of reference for the discipline. In “A New Body,” David Bestué contrasts different historical approaches to depicting human anatomy, such as a nineteenth-century anatomical model with more recent works by Henrik Olesen and Lucía C. Pino or modern classics such as Julio González, among others.
Many sculptors have faced the challenge of imprinting feelings into matter and materializing intangibles such as desire. The seventh and last section of the exhibition, titled Contact, explores the emotional dimension of the discipline through works by artists like Federico García Lorca, Susana Solano, Nathalie Djurberg/Hans Berg and Wolfgang Tillmans.
The project includes a catalogue with a curatorial essay by David Bestué and an epilogue by Martina Millà, Head of Exhibitions at the Fundació Joan Miró, along with important contributions about the areas addressed in the different sections of the exhibition by Mario Carpo, Jane Bennett, Ester Pino, Julia Spínola, Aimar Arriola and Maite Garbayo. The publication also includes and interview with the sculptor Susana Solano conducted by the curator.
The varied public programming accompanying the exhibition includes a small-format exhibit on bronze casting, one of Miró’s preferred techniques for producing his sculptures that connects the sculpture room that closes the Joan Miró Collection area with The Point of Sculpture.