‘Ramon Casas, la modernidad anhelada’

8 March 2017 to 11 June 2017
CaixaForum Madrid

The commemoration of the 150th birthday of Ramon Casas (1866-1932) became a magnificent opportunity to rediscover the work of the painter who best grasped the emergence of a new time in which the idea of ​​modernity called at the door of history. With his attitude, sometimes bohemian, sometimes irreverent and sly, Casas made a firm declaration of support to the proposals made in the course of the last decades of the nineteenth century. In this regard, we should not forget the use of certain devices -the bicycle, automotive- that brought to light the optimistic conviction about technological possibilities offered by the myth of progress. Somewhere between desire and reality, the work of Casas was very receptive to the assimilation a number of influences: the poster, photography, Japanese print. The exhibit that now arrives at CaixaForum Madrid after Sitges, successfully brings together 145 works from both Casas and contemporaries, and is organized by the Obra Social "la Caixa", alongside the National Museum of Art of Catalonia and Museus de Sitges. The exhibition enjoyed the cooperation of the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona Provincial Council and the City of Sitges.

Ramon Casas. A long yearned modernity.
Dates:
March 8 to 11 June 2017.
Conception and organization: Obra Social "la Caixa", Museus de Sitges and National Art Museum of Catalonia.
Curator: Ignasi Domènech, head of collections of Museus de Sitges; and Francesc Quílez, coordinator of collections of the National Art Museum of Catalonia.
Venue: CaixaForum Madrid (Paseo del Prado, 36). 

Ramon Casas, a long yearned modernity is the central exhibition of the Year Ramon Casas, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the painter. The exhibition was shown at Museu Maricel in Sitges, which was visited by over 38,000 people and that will be seen later at CaixaForum Palma.

The commemoration of the anniversary of the birth of the painter becomes a wonderful opportunity to rediscover the work of one of the precursors of modern art. Surrounded by painters who were influenced by him and that were reflected in his work, the exhibition presents works by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec, John Singer Sargent, Santiago Rusiñol, Julio Romero de Torres, Joaquin Sorolla, Joaquín Torres García and Pablo Picasso, among others.

The will of the curators is to show the work of Ramon Casas on the context in which they appeared, grouped into five themes. The visit is seen as a game of mirrors, a two-way road, which allows you to view the influences and similarities and common interests that exist between Casas and other contemporary authors.

It is the most comprehensive exhibition about Casas that has been seen in Madrid. The exhibition includes a selection of 145 works including works in various media such as painting, drawing and poster. These works are joined by a group of 145 photographs that help frame their work within the social and cultural context of the period in which he lived. 

The works include a large group coming from private collections and loans from Spanish and foreign museums such as the Picasso Museum in Paris, Toulouse Augustinian Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux, Abelló Collection, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Carmen Thyssen Collection, Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Picasso in Barcelona, ​​Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Cordova.

The photographic works of Frederick Ballell and Antoni and Josep Esplugas, among others, enrich the route and allow us to understand the existence of shared interests between painting and photography. Similarly, all this material also brings us to the formal and compositional influence that photography had on the work of Casas. Frames, views and aerial views are some of the loans included by the painter.

The discourse f the exhibition is divided into five different scopes:

SCOPE 1: BUILDING AN ARTISTIC IDENTITY
The beginnings of the artistic career of Casas were very marked by his early decision to travel to Paris, where he went to study when he was only 15 years old, and a city that constituted a permanent reference throughout his life. In the context of the 1880s, the contact with the main European art center was a stimulating incentive, since he became acquainted with a rich variety of languages ​​and creative trends. The painter was very receptive to all these influences assimilated during a formative stage privileged as against what had been normal was not mirrored in the local models, but he made a leap brave and determined in the work of international artists, some of them, as was the case of Carolus-Durand, with a proven track record.

In this dynamic environment, it is natural that the young Casas was dazzled and adopted a much undetermined eclectic and poetic record, without the possibility that could emerge a different and original proposal. This hybrid symbiosis is reflected in an imprecision of language and a dominance of introspective exercises, dominated by portraits of family, friends, anything that allows you to self-assert as a painter, with the aim of making a fundamental self revelation based on stares and references emanating from the works of other authors. A few years later, the game mirrors will revert positively and give way to a process in which the work of Casas will become the mirror that reflects the work of the coming Catalan artistic generation. 

SCOPE 2: THE PARADOX OF THE MODERN ARTIST
It is still paradoxical that a cosmopolitan painter, receptive to international trends in painting is to popular themes. The strong presence of picturesque elements in its production, with a special predilection for the representation of bullfighting scenes or types of Maja and bullfighters, very in tune with traditional Spanish "brava" inspiration, stating the apparent permeability of Casas when incorporating a repertoire full of local references, much appreciated by a clientele identified with these symbolic elements. Ultimately, however, once again, his work demonstrated a hybrid model in which modern painter was sensitive to nourish his imagination with all those elements that could enrich it, overcoming the traditional difference separating high culture form common culture. The circus, bullfighting and populace allowed the connection to popular forms of recreation deeply rooted in the popular imagination and awoke the interest of new generations of artists. However, the abusive an exaggerate interpretation of the theme produced the opposite effect, since Casas also had a tendency to fix a topic and stereotyped image, without seeking to review the hegemonic folkloric vision. 

SCOPE 3: THE POETRY OF CROWDS
With the completion of "Garrot vil" (garrotte), 1894, Casas opens s series of compositions dedicated to the so called "social chronicle" Although he had previously initiated the path of discovery of a new and sensible material such as the appearance of the public in the bullfighting scenes, it was not until then that the painter decided to incorporate multitudes to his work in a much more intense manner.

In fact, the theme connects with the tradition of nineteenth-century historical painting that serves as mirror, but with a desire to overcome the constraints and conventions of the genre. Casas integrates in such works a new historical element: the anonymous multitude. The virtuous hero, brave and epic, the classic model of exemplum virtues in his painting gives way to a dematerialized multitude not individualized, in which ethical references have disappeared. Beyond the moral implications of the subject, the absence of individual values ​​or the tendency to social alienation, for Casas, represented narratives allow the painter to capture the aesthetic possibilities of an amorphous mass of clustered people. Similarly, the compositions reveal the influence of photographic technique, and effect that is especially perceptible when using a type of fragmented frame and an open visual framework that suggests a continued action. 

SCOPE 4: BOHEMIAN FEEL
Els Quatre Cats opened doors in January 1897. The venue located at street Montsió became an irradiating center of a cultural alternative model dedicated to encourage and stimulate artistic creativity and freedom. Following the model of the famous Parisian cabaret Le Chat Noir, which was mirrored. The space gathered during its six years of operation all types of popular activities - Chinese shadows, puppets, and boxing - al also artistic activities. Although there was no alteration with existing artistic relations, the attitude of the bohemian group led by Casas, Romeu and Rusiñol, showed the crisis of the official system of the arts, unable to output the most innovative drives and dynamics of the time. Beyond the ratings of informal, irreverent, even extravagant, with were used to limit and turn into a caricature the scope of the experience, during this period the artist lived a moment of intense productivity. With its popular creations, Casas created the brand advertising from the popular tavern and knew how to provide visibility to a large of the ideals of the group. Although brief, this episode of Barcelona's cultural history was one of the most original and stimulating contributions to Catalan modern art.    

SCOPE 5: AMBIVALENT IDENTITIES
Great specialist in the genre of portraiture, Casas transformed the image of women in one of the most common reasons for his artistic career. The exhibits include a variety of types sufficiently representative of the various models in which the research on the aesthetic ideal of feminine beauty was based, all that dominates the profile of a sophisticated, refined, elegant and charming woman, much closer to decorativism style in 1900. This ambiance of sophistication, luxury and wealth plunges us into a society whose hedonism and cult to aesthetic pleasure, are much stereotyped values representing the decadentisme of the late nineteenth century. But , besides this debtor of anecdote painting and oriental sensuality, also emerges as a publicity stunt, a model of emancipated women, active, which has a major role coincident with modern life and who like activities such as reading or sports, far from the traditional image. Similarly, the series of nudes made during the 1890s became one of the freer and more stimulating pictorial episodes of Casas. In formal terms, we are dealing with works that exceed academic conventions and result in formal proposals of great audacity and a great visual strength.

 

ACTIVITIES RELATED WITH THE EXHIBITION

CONFERENCE
Ramon Casas
WEDNESDAY MARCH 8 | 19.30
Carried out by the curators of the exhibition, which are Ignasi Domenech and Francesc Quílez
LIMITED CAPACITY / PRICE PER PERSON: € 4 

VIEWS OF THE EXHIBITION
Further discussion with coffee
An activity of two hours to enjoy an audiovisual introduction and a quiet visit to the exhibition, in which we will delve into the most interesting subjects to each group. Then, we will share impressions in a relaxed conversation accompanied by coffee.
PRICE PER PERSON: 4 € / DURATION: 2 H
Groups: by appointment via e-mail *
PRICE FOR GROUP: € 30

Guided tours
From March 8 to April 30: THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY | 18 H; SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS | 12 H
From 1 May to 11 June: THURSDAYS AND SATURDAYS | 19 H; SUNDAYS AND HOLYDAYS | 12 H
DURATION: 1 H / PRICE PER PERSON: 3 € / LIMITED SEATING 

Prearranged Guided tours for groups
DURATION: 1 H / PRICE FOR GROUP: € 60 / Booking via e-mail *
*rcaixaforummadrid@magmacultura.net

FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Visit workshop for family’s +7
SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS | 11 H
PRICE PER PERSON: 2 € / LIMITED SEATING

Educational and family space +7
DAILY | 10 TO 20 H
OPEN ACTIVITY. LIMITED SEATING 

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES
GROUPS: MAXIMUM 30 STUDENTS
SINGLE PRICE: € 25 / GROUP
Advance registration: e-mail *
Information www.eduCaixa.com 

Dynamic visits
A tour around the exhibition that proposes an approach to the content through the observation of the work, dialogue with participants and a number of practical activities.
Groups: maximum 30 students. Levels: from 3rd primary, secondary schools and FPGM (Vocational Schools). DURATION: 1 H 30 MIN 

Guided tours
Levels: from 3rd primary, secondary schools and FPGM (Vocational)
DURATION: 1 H 

Introduction to teachers
16 March, 17:30 20 H
Presentation of the educational projects of the exhibition by José Luis Bravo, artist, researcher, author and professor at the UB and author of the educational project. Registration: on 91 330 73 28, from 10 to 14h, or via e-mail (plopez@fundacionlacaixa.org)