Fernando Zóbel's work and his unique gaze on the art of the great masters now presented at the Museo del Prado

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Fernando Zóbel's work and his unique gaze on the art of the great masters now presented at the Museo del Prado
Exhibition Zóbel. The future of the past . Photo © Museo Nacional del Prado.

MADRID.- In Room C of the Jerónimos Building and on display until 5 March 2023, the Museo del Prado is presenting the result of a lifetime of contemplation manifested in the drawings, sketches and reflections on art and artists in hundreds of sketchbooks now presented to the attentive gaze of every visitor interested in engaging with the art of the past in order to bring it to life in the present. Organised with the collaboration of the Comunidad de Madrid, the exhibition has benefited from the support of the Ayala Foundation (Manila) and Fundación Juan March.

The exhibition is curated by Felipe Pereda, Fernando Zóbel de Ayala Professor of Spanish Art at the University of Harvard, and Manuel Fontán del Junco, director of Museums and Exhibitions at Fundación Juan March, both closely connected to the artist in professional and institutional terms. Zóbel. The future of the past recreates this modern artist’s long dialogue with the great Old Masters, a dialogue established in museums around the world but perhaps above all in the Prado. Zóbel not only spent countless hours drawing and studying the paintings in the Museum but also generously donated to it a number of important drawings by 16th- to 18th-century Spanish masters.

Structured into five sections, the exhibition reconstructs Zóbel’s poetic and artistic journey, which was bounded by the two ends of a single principle: leaning to look in order to understand the art of the great masters, and applying what he learned to his own work in order to share that knowledge. Zóbel. The future of the past focuses on the artist’s work from a transnational perspective which surpasses the geographical limits of the three continents (Asia, North America and Europe) in which he lived.

Rejecting attempts to classify his work within the narrow limits of national traditions, this exhibition offers an extremely innovative interpretation of his oeuvre.

With the aim of completing this survey of the work of Fernando Zóbel, at the end of the exhibition there will be an extensive section of graphic and visual documentary material as well as a projection of the documentary “Memories of the moment.
Zóbel’s sketchbooks”. Specially made for the exhibition, its subject is the lengthy conversation with the great masters of the past that fills the almost 200 sketches left to us by the artist.

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