February 18, 2014 - Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - Biographical Forms
February 18, 2014

Biographical Forms

Charles Ray, The New Beetle, 2006. © Charles Ray. Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery.

Biographical Forms
Construction and Individual Mythology

Until March 31, 2014

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Sabatini Building, Floor 1 
Calle Santa Isabel, 52
28012 Madrid


Curator: Jean-François Chevrier, assisted by Élia Pijollet

From the now classic The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1550–1568) by Giorgio Vasari, the search for elements that link the lives of creators to their work has been one of the predominant modes of narrating art history. This methodology was questioned in the second half of the 20th century, especially with the application of structuralist theory to the field of art studies.

The exhibition Biographical forms. Construction and Individual Mythology focuses on the exploration of identity as subjective construction and reconstruction, in the sense conveyed by Franz Kafka when he wrote: “Writing denies itself to me. Hence plan for autobiographical investigations. Not biography but investigation and detection of the smallest possible component parts. Out of these I will then construct myself, as one whose house is unsafe wants to build a safe one next to it, if possible out of the material of the old one.”

Artistic activity as a biographical construction often unfolds in the form of a mythical story. The idea of Individual Mythology, whose origins can be found in the literary criticism of Romanticism, reappears within artistic vocabulary in the 1960s. Biographical legend, produced during the construction of an individual mythology, is a critique of biographism: it gives form to the identity crises experienced by the individual in his or her different relationships of cultural and social belonging. In this regard, the exhibition challenges the traditional format of a linear art history focused primarily on the progression of styles and the succession of artists’ lives, to put the spotlight on individual identity as an experimental form.

Antonin Artaud, Louise Bourgeois, Georges Braque, Brassaï, Robert Bresson, André Breton, Günter Brus, Claude Cahun, Lygia Clark, Bruce Conner, Joseph Cornell, Camille Corot, Max Ernst, Pepe Espaliú, Étienne-Martin, Walker Evans, Marina Faust, Léopold Flameng, Alberto Giacometti, Tomislav Gotovac, Philip Guston, Raymond Hains, Franz Kafka, Tadeusz Kantor, Martin Kippenberger, Paul Klee, Alfred Kubin, Henri Le Secq, Maruja Mallo, Jyvia Soma Mashe, Ludwig Meidner, Charles Meryon, Duane Michals, Santu Mofokeng, Edvard Munch, Célestin Nanteuil, Gérard de Nerval, Ocaña, Henrik Olesen, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Charles Ray, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Raymond Roussel, Anne-Marie Schneider, Kurt Schwitters, Ahlam Shibli, Arpita Singh, Alina Szapocznikow, Dorothea Tanning, Ed Templeton, Claire Tenu, VALIE EXPORT, Jeff Wall, Francesca Woodman

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía presents Biographical Forms
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
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