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Modern art always had Paris

The official history says that after World War II, Paris lost in favor of New York the hegemony of art that was held during the first decades of the TWENTIETH century. But, luckily, the official history has at times more than official history. Paris continued to be, incluo more than before, a city magnet for artists from all over the world, especially those who felt persecuted by the witch-hunting of senator McCarthy in the united States, escaping soviet communism, or the spaniards fleeing the franco dictatorship. Came to have registered more than 4,500 artists in this time of recovery. The Reina Sofía aims to correct the story that, until now, it was good in its large exhibition of the season: Paris in spite of everything. Foreign artists 1944-1968,a sample with more than 200 works signed by 100 artists, curated by the historian Serge Guilbaut, and that can be seen from today until April 22, 2019.

Serge Guilbaut, professor of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has written numerous books that deals with the cultural relationship between Paris and New York, between 1944 and 1956. The most famous of them is, without doubt, how New York stole the idea of modern art. Next to Manuel Borja-Villel, the director of the museum, addressed this same topic in the Macba in Barcelona in October of 2007 in a paper entitled, Under the pump. His thesis: under the new geopolitical order, global inaugurates the Cold War, Paris became a refugee center artistic that will help France to overcome his feeling of humiliation and instability, giving his past as a splendid world capital of art.

At the start of the exhibition recreates the famous Paris Salon of 1944, named as a Salon of the Release. There, an artist overseas, such as Pablo Picasso, the most celebrated by the avant-garde of the beginning of the century, is exalted as the great icon of the rebirth of the arts. Borja-Villel remember that the Spanish painter never adopted the French nationality. When the wanted, the rejected the Vichy government by a communist. After that, no longer interested. His oil The child of the dove (1943) is confronted in a show of symbolism with the picture of Kandinsky on his deathbed (1944), Rogi André.

'Fire! Fire!' (1964) by Enrico Baj. Tate / Tate Images

Guilbaut warns that when we speak of artistic power there is to distinguish between the strength of the market and the talent. Acknowledge that in that period, the 20 years following World War II, from the end of the War up to May ' 68, the economic power makes it impossible to abstract expressionism and pop, the two great trends made in the USA, form a new empire. But he warns right away that there are too many artists, who, pressured by the lack of freedom, they flee to Paris. Refers to creators of all stripes and formats and that by being leftists, homosexuals, blacks, or women, are forced to leave their country. “I don't think it makes sense to talk about capital of culture, because it always depends on who is writing. The right thing is to Pasgol speak of the antagonisms or tensions narratives. They were times of many speeches. Nothing is as simple as a succession of trends,” says the commissioner.

In the extensive and didactic exhibition, organized in chronological order, you can confront the visions that the artists of French and foreign nationals were on different topics. There is never a speech unit or uniform approaches. Whether to address the socialist realism or the return to the primitive forms.

The foreigners who flock to the Paris of the post-war period are grouped in clubs where alcohol is melted with the sound of jazz and together look for ways to publicize their work. One of the most interesting initiatives included in the exhibition, starring the Gallery Huit, a space multiracial opened in 1950 by artists of different origins: When Held, Raymond Handler, Haywood Bill Rivers or Shinkichi Tajiri. Together they participated in the exhibition Lament for Lady (for Billie Holliday) from a trumpet of jazz. His work along the Seine were captured by the camera of the swiss artist Sabine Weiss.

In the exhibition there are two films critical. A is Two or three things I know of her, Jean-Luc Godard in which the city of Paris is portrayed as a prostitute. The other is the musical An american in Paris, Vincente Minnelli. Both works portray the contradictions of the artists that were taken in those years in Paris, and disappointments that quite a few of them were expecting.

“Some, especially the blacks”, says the commissioner, “had special difficulties to expose or publish their works. The americans came from a united States in which they were persecuted for their ideas or their color. In Paris could get into the bars and drink what they could pay, but to enter the art circuit, it was not easy for all”. Borja-Villel,who nods to the reasoning of the commissioner, points out, however, that in those years of poverty and marginalization, Paris was an example with the refugees. “Let's not forget,” he warns. And that each draw their own conclusions in today's Europe, so obsessed with shielding their borders.

Precursor of may 68

The foreign artists based in Paris participated very actively in the mobilizations in favor of the independence of the French colonies. The Algerian war has awakened the solidarity of creators such as the american Gloria de Herrera, the chilean Roberto Matta or the collective of artists that performed the monumental work by a Large box anti-fascist (1960), 400,5 by 497 centimeters.

In that same period, writers, beatniks sought new expressive paths at the same time that artists such as Antonio Berni, Larry Rivers or Eduardo Arroyo criticized mercilessly the rise of consumerism, capitalist. Was on the brink of the great revolution of May ' 68.

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