New museography Exhibition Hall 1: Pere A. Serra. The Collection, between the Landscape and Abstraction
On its fifteen anniversary, Es Baluard proposes a new museography based on the work of activating, researching and promoting the art of the main driver behind the museum, Pere A. Serra (Sóller, Mallorca, 1928 – Palma, 2018).
Taking as a reference the book Memòries d’un museu (Memories of a Museum) which shows the most prominent works the Fundació d’Art Serra deposited at Es Baluard, the artistic department and the director have linked the analysis of the works in the Collection to a selection of the most representative pieces. The three concepts that enable us to order the connecting theme of this new museography are based on three centres of interest, broad areas into which we can delimit themes and styles: landscapes, figures and abstraction.
Torrent de Pareis, Mallorca by Joaquim Mir, is an essential painting in that it allows us to embark on an analysis of the significance of landscape painting in Mallorca. Other key pieces, like those produced by Antoni Gelabert, Santiago Rusiñol, Hermen Anglada-Camarasa, Joaquín Sorolla or Sebastià Junyer Vidal, serve as a turning point in terms of speaking of it, and enable us to understand an incipient Miró who recreates his Paysage de Mont-roig in 1916. Gateways to the abstraction which we can also see in the following group of works, like the outstanding Haven Palma by Leo Gestel or Escena de la Guerra Civil Española by Wifredo Lam. This halfway point between practices which began to experiment with the form and the line in synthesis, can also be appreciated in different paintings which reveal a hybridisation of them. But nothing is more concrete than the recreations of lifestyles close to the context of the Mallorcan period, as reflected by Molinar amb gent by Ricard Anckermann or Esperant els nuvis by Pilar Montaner de Sureda. Human figures which, in an evolution of styles and different periods, as art history explains, are reflected in the selection of works corresponding to Fernand Léger, Georg Baselitz, Pablo Picasso and Maria Carbonero. The latter, a painter from Palma, belongs to the young generation of creators who became prominent in the late ‘eighties and early ‘nineties, and received a great deal of support from Pere Serra. All of them – Amador, Joan Bennàssar, Rafa Forteza, Menéndez Rojas, Pep Canyelles, Teresa Matas, Josep M. Alcover, among others – are represented by the pieces of Ramon Canet and Maria Carbonero. And in allusion to the new paths embarked on by experimental pictorial practices of which the collector’s great friend, the painter Juli Ramis, reveals a wide range in his works, in the exhibition room we can find works by international artists – Elmyr de Hory, André Masson, Roberto Matta, Hans Hartung or Rebecca Horn – but above all by the Spaniards María Blanchard, Antoni Tàpies, Manolo Millares or Josep Guinovart.
In addition to all these, we complete the selection with a series of artists’ books, significant productions from a time when work on paper also enabled a contribution to the dissemination of artists from the local context.
Pere A. Serra was one of the outstanding figures of the press of the Balearic Islands, and a regular writer in the field of culture. He was always linked to the world of art, his great passion, as a researcher, a patron and a promoter of art centres.
His texts speak fundamentally of the artists he admired and those he related with assiduously, in a period in which Mallorca was one of the most attractive cultural epicentres of Europe, and he also wrote numerous presentation texts for catalogues by these artists, whom he knew and visited frequently. This motivated him to collect from a position of proximity, but also to seek out special works by painters whose style attracted him.
He founded the Atlante publishing house in 1953, and contributed to the cataloguing of the work of the painter Hermen Anglada-Camarasa, and in 1973 edited El vol de l’alosa, by Joan Miró, a work illustrated with 21 original drawings and containing 19 poems by Mallorcan authors.
He set in motion the publication of works as important as the Gran Enciclopèdia de Mallorca (“Great Encyclopaedia of Mallorca”, 25 volumes), the Gran Enciclopèdia de la Pintura i l’Escultura a les Balears (“Great Encyclopaedia of Painting and Sculpture in the Balearic Islands”, 4 volumes), the translation into Catalan of Die Balearen (“The Balearics in words and pictures”) by Archduke Ludwig Salvator
Serra was a personal friend of Joan Miró, in 1978 he promoted the acts in homage to the 85th anniversary of the birth of the artist, such as an anthological exhibition by the artist in the Llotja in Palma, inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain, and a tribute exhibition by 365 artists in the Casal Solleric. Later, in 1984 and as a result of their great friendship, he wrote Miró y Mallorca (“Miró and Mallorca”), which was published in Spanish, Catalan, English, French, German and Japanese.
He was also the author of other publications, like 101 escultures a la Vall de Sóller (“101 sculptures in the Sóller valley”) (1995); 101 pintors (Memòries d’una col·lecció), (“101 painters (memories of a collection)” (2000); L’ombra del garrover. Escrits sobre art, 1957-2003 (“The shade of the carob tree. Writings on art, 1957-2003”) (2003); Memòries d’un museu. Diàlegs en es Baluard (“Memories of a museum. Dialogues in Es Baluard”) (2007) and the co-author of the book of interviews Díganos Vd. Algo (“Tell us something”) (1952).
He promoted the creation of several art centres in Mallorca, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Valldemossa in 1992, and in 1997 he created the Consortium of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Palma, Es Baluard, which would later become the Es Baluard Museum. He was president of the Fundació Tren de l’Art, and proposed the acquisition of Can Prunera, in Sóller, a Modernist house, to convert it into an art centre, as well as the creation of the contemporary sculpture park in the Port of Sóller.
He was also the patron of the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca and the Fundación Sassu de Lugano, from 1997 on. He was a full member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Sant Sebastià (1997) and a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (1998), among others.
Of the artists he was interested in, other than Joan Miró, whose work he admired above all the rest, he also became great friends with Juli Ramis, another artist who fascinated him and on whom he similarly wrote. His interest in the more traditional Mallorcan artists, or those who spent time on the island, like Anglada-Camarasa, Antoni Gelabert, Santiago Rusiñol, Joaquim Mir, Llorenç Rosselló, etc. channelled his interest towards the more contemporary artists such as Picasso – many of whose ceramics he collected –, Elmyr de Hory, Roberto Matta, Anthony Caro, Eduardo Chillida, Pablo Serrano, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Franco Monti, Aligi Sassu, and others. His work on the promotion of younger artists from the islands, or those linked to them at the emerging moment of their career, was also extremely important, supporting as he did their graphic production and disseminating their work.