Museums Collectors Spain

Madrid's Reina Sofía signs agreement with Cisneros Foundation

Long-term loan of Latin American art from the New York and Caracas-based to start in 2013

Patricia Phelps de Cisneros with works from her collection

The Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid has signed a partnership agreement with the New York and Caracas-based Fundación Cisneros to develop a series of cultural projects that will culminate in the long-term loan of part of the foundation’s collection to the museum in 2013. Patricia Phelps de Cisneros has been collecting Latin American art with her Venezuelan media magnate husband Gustavo Cisneros since the 1970s, when they founded the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC).

The collection has always been an itinerant one, with works lent to museums in North and South America, and Cisneros has never been in favour of establishing her own museum. However, several years ago, the foundation started to consider options for one or more permanent homes for the collection. Manuel Borja-Villel, the director of the Reina Sofía, who met Cisneros in 2000 says: “I felt, after so many years, that our relations were ripe and it was the right time to ask for this kind of collaboration. She agreed and we all hope for the best.”

Since taking over as director of the museum four years ago, Borja-Villel has made Latin American art one of his priorities, as well as what he calls the “creation of a network of the conceptualisms of the South”, or in other words, a network of collaborations with institutions and collections with no permanent home, such as the Cisneros collection.

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, the director of the Fundación Cisneros, says: “This move is part of our broader policy to lend works to other institutions with similar goals.” In 2007, the foundation signed an agreement with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for a loan of 25 colonial-style works. This agreement was recently extended until 2017. In 2010, another agreement was made with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A partnership has also been signed with the Centro León in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic, but the partnership with the Reina Sofía will be the foundation’s first in Europe. “We are honoured to be able to work with the Reina Sofía, and we fully support its dedication to Latin American art,” says Pérez-Barreiro.

The beginning of the agreement between the Reina Sofía and the foundation was marked with a seminar held at the museum in early March about Latin America’s contributions to the history of modern art. Further joint projects will be in the field of education and research, as well as shared publications.

Relations will be strengthened in 2013 when works from the Cisneros collection go on display in an exhibition co-curated by Borja-Villel and Pérez-Barreiro, and focusing on Latin American abstract art from the 1940s to the 1970s. “The Cisneros collection unites the best of 20th-century Latin American abstract art. It is a must see for anyone interested in modern art,” says Borja-Villel.

The collection includes works by the Uruguayan painter Joaquin Torres-Garcia, the Venezuelan modern masters Jesús Soto, Alejandro Otero, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Gego, Brazilian artists such as Mira Schendel, Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Pape and Argentinian artists including Tomás Maldonado and Gyula Kosice.

Negotiations are still in progress over which works will be loaned to the Reina Sofía, but Borja-Villel has already allocated a space for them. “We have reserved 700 sq. m on the fourth floor, close to Picasso’s later works and the nouveau réalisme works,” he says. “This loan makes total sense because in the past four years we have acquired some of the same artists that are in the Cisneros collection, such as Clark, Gego, Soto and Cruz-Diez. Together they will provoke a very interesting dialogue. The Cisneros collection will allow us to understand that there is another version of the history of 20th-century art”.

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