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"Mimesis. Modern Realism 1918-1945"
2005-10-12 until 2006-01-08
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Madrid, , ES Spain

The exhibition Mimesis. Modern Realism 1918-1945, jointly organised by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Fundacion Caja Madrid, focuses on the rise and spread of Realism in the years between the First and Second World Wars, a crucial period for the consolidation of avant-garde modern art. During these years, Realism was a vigorous force within painting and sculpture as well as film and literature, becoming one of the leading trends within modern art.

Despite this, and in contrast to other tendencies such as Surrealism and geometrical Abstraction, which came about in a homogenous and organised manner, Realism was a varied and plural trend which acquired different characteristics depending on social, geographical and artistic factors. The intention of the exhibition is to reveal the shared aesthetic and artistic features which made Realism a distinct current or style.

With regard to the diversity of modern Realism, most recent exhibitions on the subject have been structured to contrast the various national schools. This was the case, for example, with Les Realismes, a pioneering exhibition curated by Jean Clair and organised by the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1983, which has been a key reference point since that date. On the present occasion, a descriptive focus has been abandoned in favour of a more analytical one with the aim of pinpointing a shared undercurrent in the work of artists as diverse as Andre Derain, Otto Dix, Edward Hopper, Jose Gutierrez Solana, Joan Miro, Balthus and Julio Gonzalez, among others.

This analysis makes clear the way in which Realist painting brought about key innovations for the future development of modern art, evolving as it did from the various early 20th-century avant-garde movements towards a new way of representing reality. This came about through new compositions (inspired by architecture, photography and film), experimentation with regard to materials and supports, new motifs, subjects, genres and even a new relation with the viewing public. Despite their ìmimeticî intent, works of art created during this period of social and cultural transformation are replete with underlying sub-texts, references, allusions and meanings, all of which require interpretation.

Charles Sheeler
Cactus, 1931
Oil on Linen.
114.6 x 76.4 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Colección Louise y Walter Arensberg, 1950

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