"What you have done in Cuenca is surely one of the most admirable, indeed brilliant, works of art.... a remarkable balance of painting, sculpture, and architecture." Alfred H. Barr in a letter to Fernando Zóbel
Jardin Seco, Fernando Zóbel, 1969
Manila born Fernando Zóbel conceived the idea of a museum for abstract art in Spain while contemplating on a proper home for his significant collection of Spanish contemporary art from the 1950s to the 1960s. Together with Gustavo Torner, they found a venue in the Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) in Cuenca. The Museum of Spanish Abstract Art opened in 1966 with forty works of art on display from Zóbel's collection. His fellow artists and friends -- Torner, Gerardo Rueda, Antonio Lorenzo and Eusebio Sempere assisted him in various capacities as co-director and curators of the museum.
Zóbel became concerned with how best to insure the survival of the museum beyond his lifetime. He decided to donate his collection to the Fundación Juan March in 1980. He believed that the Fundación would "preserve and expand" the collection following the fundamental idea on which the museum was founded. The Fundación incorporated the donated works with its own. There are 127 paintings and sculptures on permanent display at the museum from the Abstract Generation.
Ornitóptero numero 545, Fernando Zóbel, 1962
"In art, things are either necessary or superfluous", wrote Fernando Zóbel in an article published by the Christian Science Monitor in April 1984. Ornitóptero 545 is part of Zóbel's Serie Negra, Black Series where he has let go of the superfluous, in this case, color. (The late paintings in this series though treats black as a color.) He painted lines on the canvas using a hypodermic syringe needle which technique he perfected when working with his Saeta (arrow or improvised Flamenco song) series of paintings. These lines create movement which is the subject of the painting and which an ornithopter (an aircraft with flapping wings) is meant to convey.
Zóbel was bestowed the Medalla de Oro al Merito de Bellas Artes in 1983 by King Juan Carlos of Spain. He died in Rome in 1984.
Brigette Bardot, Antonio Saura, 1959
Bóveda para el hombre, Bronze Sculpture by Pablo Serrano, 1962
Saura has said of this portrait of Brigitte Bardot that "the presence of the model is less important than the illusion created".*
Pablo Serrano has this to say of his sculpture Bóveda para el hombre (Cave for the man): "deep down a man is nothing other than an animal searching for a cave in which to take refuge".*
Untitled, Gustavo Torner, 1978
Torner is both a painter and sculptor. He lives in Cuenca and has just celebrated his 90th birthday. He was one of the instrumental people in the establishment of the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art in Cuenca where he was born. In an interview with Angeles Garcia of the newspaper, El País, Torner said, "El hombre no puede vivir sin belleza" (Man cannot live without beauty).
Max Bill, A Temporary Exhibition
Max Bill: Obras Multiplicadas Como Originales (1938-1994) is a temporary exhibition of the graphic works of Swiss artist, Max Bill. It runs through September 18, 2015.
The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español has received numerous awards including the Medal of Honor for Merit in the Fine Arts in 1980, the European Museum of the Year Award by the European Council in 1981 and the Tourism Award of Castilla-La Mancha in 1997.
Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the first director and founder of MoMA in New York wrote a letter to Fernando Zóbel in 1970: "What you have done in Cuenca is surely one of the most admirable, indeed brilliant, works of art.... a remarkable balance of painting, sculpture, and architecture."*
*from the Catalogo de Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (Fundación Juan March), Cuenca
Museo de Arte Abstracto Español
Casas Colgadas, Cuenca
Images by TravelswithCharie