Barcelona Art New York – William Jeffett

William Jeffett
Curator of the exhibition
July 2012

The axis Barcelona-New York characterised the context of the post-war art, transforming both cities into artistic capitals.
Though he never travelled to the US, Picasso was the most visible artist in New York after the war, largely through the MoMA, who had organised the artist’s first retrospective (1939). Picasso was a reference for the younger painters Pollock, Gorky and Motherwell.
Miró’s MoMA retrospective (1941) introduced American painters to painterly automatism. In 1947, he lived in New York, working in Carl Holty’s studio. Simultaneously, in William Hayter’s Atelier 17, he etched the plates for Tzara’s Anti-Tête.
Calder had worked alongside Miró and Picasso in Sert’s Spanish Pavilion (Paris, 1937). Due to the Civil War, Sert was exiled at Harvard; Calder in Connecticut. Their presence contributed to a transformation of New York sculpture and architecture.
Pierre Matisse supported the Barcelona- New York axis by exhibiting Miró and the younger Millares (from 1960 onwards). From 1955—1960s, Tàpies worked with
Martha Jackson. The MoMA introduced this generation in New Spanish Painting and Sculpture (1960), which also included Chillida.
Tàpies never renounced Barcelona, where his works were exhibited at the Sala Gaspar (1964). Millares similarly had exhibitions at the Galería René Metras (1966, 1973).
Barceló emerged in the 1980s due to his show with legendary dealer Leo Castelli (1986), a time when Basquiat was painting in New York’s lower east side.
The sculptor Plensa frequently exhibits in New York (Richard Gray Gallery, Galerie Lelong), and he has installed prominent public commissions in New York, Dallas, Chicago etc. Plensa proposes a poetic vision anchored in the human body, and his works are remarkable for their capacity to convey what is undoubtedly the most powerful artistic vision to be found in contemporary sculpture.