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The museum was founded with the clear mission of bringing society and institution together, and since it was founded it has become known for welcoming numerous donations from the private sphere. Given this context, the idea of showing an incontestable collection of art created in Bilbao makes sense, a project that joins the advocacy of collecting which is at the core of our exhibition programme. The fact that it is also an international collection reinforces the idea of opportunity.

The José Ramón Prieto Collection is comprised of contemporary art exclusively by female artists, most of them from his same generation, which suggests a close mimesis with the works’ meaning. However, this idea was not premeditated; to the contrary, it was a consummate fact he reached by zigzagging among artists whom he discovered in the last three decades at museums, fairs and biennials, all of which somehow had to do with his own experiences and memories. The museum’s public now has the chance to get to know this collection through this extraordinary exhibition curated by Lourdes Fernández, art historian and director of major projects related to culture and contemporary art. The show brings together 45 works by 35 artists, some more local and others internationally renowned, such as Marina Abramovic, Ana Laura Aláez, Louise Bourgeois, Carmen Calvo, Ángela de la Cruz, Donna Huanca, Jenny Holzer, Cristina Iglesias, Barbara Kruger, Elizabeth Peyton, Dora Salazar, Monika Sosnowska, Tatiana Trouvé, Azucena Vieites and Kara Walker. The works on display include Weave II by Dora Salazar, which the collector recently donated to the museum.

The Prieto Collection does not focus on a single artistic style or several similar styles but encompasses references to such disparate languages as Pop Art, conceptualism, minimalism, Informalism, geometric abstraction, Arte Povera, constructivism, neo-Baroque, expressionism and photorealism. It is also a sampling of all kinds of artistic disciplines; painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, photography—often based on performances—assemblage, video installation, sound works and even sewing are represented and interact with each other in a kind of “constellation”. The works assembled articulate an extensive reflection on issues like gender construction, the existence of a feminine gaze of the world, sexuality, the fleetingness of time, the meaning of art, the failure of the ideal of modern life, religion and death. They comprise a coherent whole which is, in short, an invitation to rethink the reality around us.

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