The Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga exhibits ‘Masks. Metamorphosis of modern identity’

The Carmen Thyssen Málaga Museum exhibits the temporary exhibition Masks until 2022 . Metamorphosis of modern identity , which brings together more than a hundred pieces by artists such as Goya, Ensor, Gutiérrez Solana, Gargallo, Maruja Mallo, Picasso, Derain, Julio González, Oteiza, De Chirico, Modigliani or María Blanchard that make up a gallery of disturbing faces, disguised, veiled and unveiled, supernatural, transfigured and complex, with a direct gaze or empty eyes. 

The inauguration was attended by the Vice President of the Palacio Villalón Foundation and Mayor of the city, Francisco de la Torre ; the Councilor for Culture of the Malaga City Council, Noelia Losada ; the general director of the Unicaja Foundation, Sergio Corral ; and the curators of the exhibition Luis Puelles , professor of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the University of Malaga, and Lourdes Moreno , artistic director of the Museum.

The exhibition, whose opening to the public was postponed due to the declaration of the state of alarm, reflects on the portrait and the representation of the face and the human figure in modern art, between the final decades of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th, that arises through masks that transcend in the visual arts its traditional character linked to carnival and theater. 

The discourse is presented as a network of conceptual and aesthetic relationships and affinities between artists and works, divided into three sections that explore, respectively, the mask as a physical object that is superimposed on the face, heir to its fun and festive function and use. ; the assimilation of the features of the masks by the faces in avant-garde works; and the fusion between face and mask that testifies to the absolute loss of individuality and personal specificity. 

The three sections correspond to three different skin types:

1.- Carnival nonsense

Mask as an object, based on the traditional use linked to carnival and theater, becomes a way of denouncing individual and social corruption, a means of hiding the truth of the face.

2.- Supernatural masks

Mask as a substitute for the realistic portrait of the face in avant-garde art; From the influence of ethnographic masks from non-European cultures, the figures no longer have a “real” face to have masks as a face, with no one behind.

3.- Transfigured

faces- Face-masks or mask-faces, where both come together, in real and living figures that, however, have inscrutable faces). In short, it is a journey through a metamorphosis, a transformation of the mask from a physical and tangible object into an artistic image. 

The exhibition, sponsored by the Unicaja Foundation, also presents a story rich in readings and interpretations that have materialized at a time that coincides with the widespread use of the mask, but in reality it has been the subject of exhaustive study and work by the curators and the museum team over two years. It is an exhibition project that brings together the scientific, playful and informative nature of art and that makes an interesting variety of interconnected aesthetic proposals available to the general public. 

The mask serves the artist to investigate the identities that emerged from a historical context of profound changes and crisis, in which the so-called modernity took shape. A period centered on the individual, whose infallibility and whose vital certainties were, however, questioned by two world wars and which in the artistic sphere experienced the breaking of the traditional representative canons at the hands of the avant-garde. 

In this scenario of contradictions and experimentation, the mask played a prominent role, both formally, as an object that stimulated a transformation of the resources of representation of the face , overcoming the search for resemblance and realism, and psychologically, allowing, with its game of concealment and unmasking, to highlight the complexity and enigmatic nature of identity and subjectivity 

The more than one hundred works include paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and ethnographic pieces belonging to more than forty Spanish and international artists loaned to the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga by private collectors and national and international museums such as Center Pompidou, Musée Picasso Paris, Musée National Fernand Léger, National Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, National Prado Museum, Gargallo Museum in Zaragoza, Abanca Collection, Banco Santander Collection, Carmen Thyssen Collection, Patio Herreriano Museum, the Museums of Fine Arts in Bilbao, Asturias, A Coruña and Córdoba, MNAC, Oteiza Museum, Museum of America, María José Jove Foundation, among many others. 

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