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Before Picasso; After Miró
James Johnson Sweeney
Published in 1960
24 pages, fully illustrated
Organized by director James Johnson Sweeney, Before Picasso; After Miro showcased the work of eighteen 20th-century Spanish artists between the ages of 26 and 41 alongside the paintings of Isidro Nonell (1873–1911). In his introduction, Sweeney points to the profound connections among Nonell, the younger Spanish artists, and their predecessors Picasso and Miró, which can be found "in their basic regard for the material expression, in their pride of independence from alien influence, in their chromatic constraint and understatement, in their concrete, pictorial, yet basically nonillustrative, intensity." This presentation of works by Nonell, Eduardo Alcoy, Rafael Canogar, Modest Cuixart, Francisco Farreras, Luis Feito, Juana Francés, Lucio Muñoz, Manelo Millares, Juan Hernández Pijuán, Carlos Planell, Manuel Rivera, Antonio Saura, Antonio Suárez, Antoni Tàpies, Vicente Vela, Juan Vila Casas, Manuel Viola, and Fernando Zobel illustrates the vitality of Spanish painting and the Guggenheim's commitment to showcasing it; this marked the first U.S. exhibition for several of these artists. In addition to Sweeney's introduction, the exhibition brochure includes artist biographies, a checklist of works on view, and black-and-white photographs of the museum by Ezra Stoller, Herbert Matter, and Robert E. Mates.
What is particularly striking about the work of the younger Spanish artists is the variety of expression they achieve in their pictures in spite of the fact that for the most part, they limit themselves to an austere color gamut of browns, gray, slates, gray greens and ochres so characteristic of Spanish taste and, at the same time, concentrate principally on the exploration of textural effects and on the suggestion of space relationships through contrasts of picture surface.