From Friday 16 October to 17 January 2016, the first complete retrospective in Spain on Max Bill can be seen at the Fundación Juan March
The Swiss artist Max Bill (Winterthur, 1908 - Berlin, 1994) was a multi-talented figure whose life was structured around his artistic activities and his reflection on a focused series of major ideas, namely form, realisation, function, figure, beauty and configuration. Bill can be located within the Renaissance tradition of an homo universalis, a configurator who combined the virtues of the homo faber and the homo ludens throughout the course of his highly active life.
This first retrospective in Spain on Max Bill offers a concentrated survey of the artists complete oeuvre, given that it covers in a chronological and thematic manner all areas of his multi-faceted creativity: painting, drawing and printmaking, sculpture, architecture, book and magazine design, industrial and furniture design, typography and advertising design, the latter ranging from large-format posters to small inserts in magazines. A carefully chosen selection of 170 works and documents loaned from public and private collections in Europe and the USA give shape to this idea of a concentrated retrospective, which has been the concept behind the present exhibition and its accompanying catalogue from the outset.
Until now the work of Max Bill has only been seen in Spain as part of group exhibitions and, in particular, in the solo exhibition devoted to him at the Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo in Madrid and the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona in 1980, which was the first in Spain to show painting, sculpture and graphic work together. Bills architecture, which has been the subject of various studies and publications, is also analysed in the present exhibition, as is the time he spent at the Bauhaus and his role in the founding of the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (HfG) [Ulm Higher School of Design], established in 1951.
Following a series of important recent exhibitions held at the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart, the Kunstmuseum and the Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur and the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich between 2005 and 2008 (the latter marking the centenary of the artists birth), the present exhibition at the Fundación Juan March aims to offer an updated assessment of the work of this Swiss artist and of his significance for the visual arts, architecture and design.
The exhibition has been conceived and organised in close collaboration with the max, binia+jakob bill stiftung and has primarily benefited from Jakob Bills advisory capacity. It presents a selection of key and representative works covering the entire career of this artist, who studied at the Bauhaus between 1927 and 1928 and who was, as noted above, an architect and co-founder of the Ulm School in 1951, as well as being the leading representative of the Konkrete Kunst [Concrete Art] trend which was seminal for Swiss contemporary creation. Bill was also notable for his influence on Spanish architecture and on Latin American geometrical art, a facet that was recently explored at the Fundación Juan March in the exhibition América Fría. La abstracción geométrica en Latinoamérica, 1934-1973 (cf. www.march.es). Finally, Bill was noted for his essays, his dedication to teaching and his political and social concerns.
All these aspects of his life and work are covered in the exhibitions fully illustrated accompanying catalogue, which is published in two editions (English and Spanish). It features essays by leading international and Spanish experts and a selection of previously unpublished texts by Max Bill. Among the authors of the catalogue are specialists in a range of fields, including Jakob Bill, Karin Gimmi, María Amalia García, Gillermo Zuaznabar, Neus Moyano and Fernando Marzá. Also included is a selection of previously unpublished texts, the majority by Max Bill, which have been translated, annotated, selected and edited by Neus Moyano, Gillermo Zuaznabar, Manuel Fontán del Junco and María Toledo.
Prior to the present exhibition, a previous one on the artists graphic output, featuring more than a hundred works, was shown at the Fundación Juan March in Palma de Mallorca (25 February - 30 May 2015) and at the Museo de Arte abstracto Español in Cuenca (24 June - 18 September 2015).
WHY WE VISIT EXHIBITIONS
In a text on issues relating to exhibition design written in 1948, Max Bill observed that he had often asked himself why we visit exhibitions.
I have reached the conclusion [
] that most visitors hope to experience a sensation that goes beyond the scope of their everyday lives. A visit to an exhibition offers the chance interrupt normal life with a one-day celebration.
Bills work can be considered an intense celebration of forms: those who role lies within daily life, such as design and architecture, and others which celebrate a beauty that does not have a practical function: the beauty of works of art, which Bill often defined as objects configured for spiritual use. The present exhibition aims to celebrate this dual aspect of creation.