After the recent signing of the partnership agreement between BBK and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Foundation on the 11th of February of this year for the call for applications in the Architecture Contest to expand and remodel the museum, today the 2019 BBK/Museum Programme is being unveiled, which stipulates the main activities scheduled for this year in the following avenues of joint action: educational and dissemination activities, research grants and temporary exhibitions.
With a solid history of over 35 years, the museum's Education and Cultural Action Department organises a wide range of activities designed according to different needs and targeted at an increasingly large audience. From proposals that support environmental awareness in the school curriculum to attention to the experiences of the elderly or the enjoyment of music with the whole family, more than 60 activities and workshops per year have been targeted at a total audience of 266,115 people in the past ten years. All the educational programmes are offered in Basque, Spanish and, to a lesser extent, English, and they are posted on the museum's website.
The museum's educational proposals for schoolchildren turn the works of art into tools for dialogue and reflection, while also developing their critical thinking and creativity. From the now-classic "Discover the Museum", "Contact", "Initiation", "Basic" and "Ancient Painting" routes to the workshops associated with environmental awareness—like "Let's Recycle Waste" or "Unusual Routes"—including some specifically designed for the most important temporary exhibitions, these activities enable the museum to provide a broad response to all levels in the educational system.
"Exchanging gazes" is a programme for youths aged 15 to 20. Throughout an entire morning, small groups of students debate a proposal led by two artists, and then they later participate in a workshop where they materialise this experience in images. This thus generates an alternative museum space where youths are the main players in action-creations which they can incorporate as life lessons.
From early stimulation for babies between 1 and 3 years old to activities for families with children up to age 12, this programme, which has online reservations and is extraordinarily popular in its two annual events, is designed so that the entire family can enjoy the museum with the mediation of an artist-educator, who activates the experience depending on the group's interests. "Imagine a Museum", "What a Story", "The Museum in Dance", "What Shapes are Those!", "Gymkhana in the Museum", "Textile Paths", "The Cabin of your Dreams", "Traveling Postcards" and "The Sound of Colours" are just some of the original titles that reflect the spirit of this programme.
With the goal of guaranteeing the right to lifelong learning for everyone, this section includes activities targeted at adults in training programmes and associations with cultural pursuits. Independent tours are offered around the permanent exhibition assisted by written and audiovisual materials designed by the Education Department, along with tours and workshops related to the temporary exhibitions geared at education professionals.
Through the activities held for individuals over the age of 60—the workshops "Weaving Histories" and "Shared Memories" and a coffee-chat—art serves as a collaborative tool to explore experiences that foster the participants' knowledge and memory. In the former, work with textile fibres and words guides the workshop activity, while in the latter, a cup of coffee is the perfect excuse to chat and share impressions after visiting an exhibition.
The exhibition programme inspires activities held during shows' limited timeframes. Because of their temporary nature, the proposals are extremely varied and usually accompanied by free downloadable support materials available on the museum's website.
The workshop "The Shared Letter (The Secret ABC)", led by Ana Isabel Román and Edu López, suggests five tours for adults through the exhibition ABC. The Alphabet of the Bilbao Museum. In a participative talk, the two artists explain their relationship with the works of art and share knowledge from their own work based on their experience setting up the show.
Since 1998, the museum has been holding one of the activities which has become famous because of the quality and interest of the topics and the prestige of the speakers who participate in this series, which teaches our patrons about aspects related to the collection and history of the Prado Museum. More than 3,000 participants have enrolled in the 21 editions held to date. In academic year 2018/2019, the series "Fantastic Art" was offered to a full house and also served to pay tribute to Francisco Calvo Serraller, the director of the Foundation who passed away last November.
As part of the museum's own research, since 1982 it has held a biannual contest targeted at post-graduate university students enrolled in doctoral programmes to award two research grants whose purpose is to stimulate studies on topics that are relevant to the museum's collections, and more specifically to Basque art. The grants last one year and come with a €1,000 award per month.
For 2019, it was agreed to extend the 2017–2018 grant awarded to David Fuente Adrián with the theme Encuentros y desencuentros y estelas del Grupo Emen. Arte en Bizkaia (1966-1980) for one year.
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, gallery 32
29 May–20 October 2019
Sponsored by BBK
This summer, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, with the sponsorship of BBK, presents a major retrospective devoted to the painter Ignacio Zuloaga (Eibar, Gipuzkoa, 1870–Madrid, 1945), who in his day was regarded as the most important Spanish artist with the greatest international fame.
In the early 20th century, Zuloaga's painting ushered in a new way of understanding figuration, with a highly personal aesthetic that merged popular elements and classical references using the languages of the avant-garde and the tradition of the Spanish school.
Made up of almost 100 paintings, the exhibition is the first retrospective held on the painter's entire career since 1990, showing examples from his early years until the time he earned domestic and international renown. The in-depth research carried out in recent years has made it possible to show many of the artist's unknown works and facets to the public for the first time.
The painter's masterpieces conserved in the Bilbao museum—Portrait of the Marqués de Villamarciel (c. 1893), The Cardinal (1912) and Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles (1913), among others—are joined by loans from private individuals and institutions, such as the Museo Ignacio Zuloaga in Pedraza (Segovia), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, along with international institutions such as the Hispanic Society of New York, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna di Ca'Pesaro in Venice and the Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico.
The joint curators, Javier Novo González, head of the museum's Collections Department, and Mikel Lertxundi Galiana, researcher, are at the foundation of this major retrospective, the catalogue accompanying it and the vast set of documents which will enable the public to better understand the magnitude achieved by the painter. Books, magazines, photographs, letters and other documents will show Zuloaga's facets as both a human and a mass phenomenon.
The exhibition is divided into three periods:
The works of Ignacio Zuloaga are associated with Realism, a style in which he virtually trained himself in late the 1880s in Madrid and Rome, and which he later perfected in Paris at the end of the century. There, ever since his arrival in 1889, he took an interest in social realism and the symbolic aesthetic, which resulted in works with a cool palette and poetic atmosphere featuring anonymous figures from the Parisian underworld. Zuloaga captured these visions in small formats in which he experimented with different avant-garde languages.
In 1898, Zuloaga's career shifted course dramatically, reaping him international success which had been unprecedented for Spanish painting since the time of Goya, with the exception of the brief yet fertile output of Mariano Fortuny, which is solely comparable to that of his contemporary Joaquín Sorolla.
This time marked the beginning of his fascination with country life in the villages of Castile, which he now captured on large canvases, once again featuring singular, humble figures. These works enshrined him internationally as a brilliant, unique artist, while the country that produced him accused him of using his paintings to rub salt into the wound of the national crisis that came in the wake of 1898. In no time, his vision of Spain was classified as ill-timed, such that even well into the 20th century his success profoundly irritated the old structures of Spanish art, including the institutions and their leaders, artistic competitions and their juries, art critics and, by extension, public opinion, which had been totally alienated by the former.
Late in the 1890s, Zuloaga had shaped his own language in which, despite the glimpses of the references from his youth, his ties with the traditional Spanish school are obvious, from Mannerism and the Baroque until Goya. Due to his personality and family relations, Zuloaga always moved in privileged, cosmopolitan intellectual circles. However, the painter never ceased being attracted by the radiant magnetism of bohemian, worldly life, leading him to populate his works with unique characters, from either Paris or Segovia, such as beggars, dwarves, hunchbacks, morphine addicts, gypsies, prostitutes, fortune tellers, dancers, singers, cabaret singers, picadors and bullfighters.
This is a stage when he earned a great deal of fame for his scenes of rural life, of bullfighters and gypsies—what has come to be called "España Negra", or Black Spain—as well as for his monumental portraits boasting refined elegance. This period spans from his earliest international triumphs until his exhibitions held in the United States in 1925, featuring the painter's most emblematic works.
After being celebrated on his US tour in 1925, Zuloaga exploited the formulas that had garnered him success, working almost exclusively to produce commissions from a select clientele who wanted their portraits painted by the master.
This is a period marked by portraits, with hardly any genre paintings except for his delicate still lifes. Yet it is also an obscure period that is often overlooked by the majority of his biographers since it is so ideologically delicate. The two World Wars, and particularly the Spanish Civil War, led his figure to become fodder for national propaganda because of his reputation and his artistic language, which was so distant from the scene of the avant-gardes' formal experimentation.