This summer, thanks to the generosity of the University of Navarra Museum and the support of Petronor, museum patrons may enjoy one of the most eloquent examples of private collecting in our cultural scene, the María Josefa Huarte Collection.
Comprised of 47 works—40 of which are now being exhibited in the Bilbao museum—it features important series of works by Jorge Oteiza, Pablo Palazuelo and Antoni Tàpies in terms of both the quality of the pieces and the way they reveal the evolution of each of these three creators. Along with them, the collection also includes 19 other prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Wassily Kandinsky, Eduardo Chillida, Eusebio Sempere and Manuel Millares.
The collection was donated to the University of Navarra in 2008, the initial impetus to creating the museum affiliated with this institution; it was designed by the architect Rafael Moneo (Tudela, Navarra, 1937) and opened in January 2015.
A member of a prominent family of Navarran entrepreneurs living in Madrid whose artistic patronage spearheaded some of the most modern initiatives of their day—including Oteiza's Experimental Proposal, the magazine Nueva Forma, the Alea group and the Pamplona Encounters of 1972—María Josefa Huarte Beaumont (Pamplona, 1927–2015) started her collection in the early 1950s with a focus on abstract geometric and Informalist trends. The uniqueness of her collection is offset by the parallel collecting efforts of her father and brothers, although María Josefa followed her own personal taste and her interest in certain authors and works, educating herself through visits to galleries and artists' studios.
The María Josefa Huarte Collection. University of Navarra Museum is made up of almost 50 works (paintings and primarily sculptures) by 19 artists and offers an overview of some of the aesthetic proposals that contributed to the updating of Spanish art in the 1950s and 1960s, such as geometric abstraction, Informalism, matter-based painting and gestural or kinetic art.
In this sense, she viewed abstraction as the aesthetic path to modernity and an inner and personal spiritual journey. This explains her predilection for Palazuelo's works; following in the footsteps of some of the earliest abstract artists like Kandinsky, he upheld art's ability to generate images and metaphors capable of revealing the ineffable, what is hidden to our eyes. Along with Tàpies and Oteiza, Palazuelo is one of the best represented artists in the collection, all three via exceptional pieces which enable us to reconstruct an important part of their respective artistic careers.
A selection of the main works within legacy María Josefa Huarte's bequest at the University of Navarra Museum is now being displayed on an exceptional basis via a show that encourages visitors to engage in dialogue with the works based on new formal and conceptual relationships.
The catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition includes a text by the art historian María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid and the author of important studies on art collecting in Spain, who will analyse María Josefa Huarte's collecting efforts in relation to the Spanish art and culture of her day.
In the image:
Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona, 1923-2012)
Incendi (Fire),, 1991
Acrílico, polvo de mármol, aglutinante, pigmentos y barniz sobre madera
Museo Universidad de Navarra