ROOM 30 - Transatlantic Connections
Shown alongside scenes of cultural interaction by late 18th- and 19th-century American artists is Billy Jack, Jr. (2006) by Brad Kahlhamer (born Tucson, Arizona, 1956), a work which fuses the exuberance of Expressionist painting with the visionary tradition of Native American art. Like other similar works, this watercolour takes its starting point from the drawings made by members of the Great Plains tribes during their forced relocation onto reservations in the late 19th and early 20th century. The work’s title refers to the cult film Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin, 1971) which supported the civil rights movement in the United States and drew attention to discrimination against Indigenous Americans.
ROOM 31 - American Landscape and Environmental Awareness
Displayed among landscapes by 19th-century American artists affiliated with Romanticism and naturalism - pioneers of modern environmental awareness including figures such as Cole, Church, Cropsey and Durand - is a large-format photograph from the series New Pictures from Paradise by the German photographer Thomas Struth (born Geldern, 1954). It depicts the ancient rainforest of Daintree in Australia. Struth presents “a place of the unconscious” which questions representations of Paradise in different cultures over the centuries while raising its voice in support of habitats at risk of extinction.
ROOM 33 – The Impressionist Period
Deeply involved with the life force of water, its flow and transformative potential, the work of the German artist Janaina Tschäpe (born Munich, 1973) is filled with aquatic beings and organic universes which arise from a subjective process that alternates between immersion, meditative contemplation and conversations with scientists. Her watercolour Mangrove Shortstory (2005) portrays this tropical biome adapted to low-oxygen conditions, protecting the porous shoreline from erosion and storms. Her work acquires a new reading when surrounded by the landscapes by Monet, Renoir and Pissarro on display in this gallery.
ROOM 36 – The Language of the Body
The agitated rhythms of paintings by the German Expressionists are accompanied here by a sculpture by Sarah Lucas (born London, 1962). While the figures by Kirchner, Pechstein, Heckel and Marc, with their simplified forms, luminous colours and uninhibited poses, aimed to move away from the classical norms of body language, British artist Lucas focuses on the man-woman duality. In Dacre (2013) she fuses two beings in an embrace, evoking the image of a mother and child, two lovers or a guardian figure. Seen from a post-human perspective, Dacre questions “human” arrogance and highlights the animal nature of homo sapiens.
ROOM 37 – Urban Unrest
The series New Buildings for Berlin, which the German artist Isa Genzken (born Bad Oldesloe, 1948) began in 2002, re-imagines the changing nature of the city which she considers her home. In these architectural works Genzken proposes an urban landscape in which coloured glass and lacquer panels replace the grey structures that characterise Berlin. She refers to a building tradition based on the reuse of found materials and to Mies van der Rohe and Bruno Taut’s Modernist architecture. This sculpture allows the artist to investigate the speculative and political function of architecture and, by extension, of art. The display of the sculpture in Room 37 generates a stimulating encounter with works such as Architecture II by Feininger and The Corner House by Meidner.
ROOM 38 – Flowers
In the work of Álvaro Urbano (born Madrid, 1983) architecture and nature combine to create settings that alternate between reality and fiction. One example is The Brief Life (GRANADA GRANADA) which takes its title from the opera by Manuel de Falla and was included in the exhibition GRANADA GRANADA (2023). Urbano imagines a meeting between Luis Barragán and Federico García Lorca and this gives rise to a garden with plants taken from the Mexican architect’s gardens and Lorca’s poems. His work shares space with Nolde’s Glowing Sunflowers, Beckmann’s Still Life with Yellow Roses and other paintings from the museum’s collection.
ROOM 39 – Pioneers of Abstraction
Since the 1980s Ann Veronica Janssens (born Folkestone, 1956) has been creating works that take the form of on-site installations made from apparently simple, even intangible materials such as glass, light, sound and artificial fog. Her proposals explore the permeable nature of contexts and encourage viewers to approach a threshold of visual, psychological and temporal instability. The triptych CL2 Blue Shadow, CL9 Pink ShadowandSunset B creates iridescent reflections and chromatic variations depending on the angle of the viewer. The space may thus become a different one, just as the installation of this triptych next to works by Kupka and Kandinsky from the permanent collection generates a new reading of this room.
ROOM 44 – Dada and Surrealism
The nervous system of a squid, coral, flowers, insects, masks, necklaces and cosmic representations are among the elements to be found in drawings and watercolours by Regina de Miguel (born Malaga, 1977), of which five are displayed in this gallery. The starting point for her works is the eco-science-fiction story that she wrote in 2020, a futuristic tale featuring a female biologist whose research on alien archaeology takes place on a planet called “Exile”, from where she describes and paints the mutant life forms around her. De Miguel invites the viewer to imagine the planet from an eco-feminist viewpoint while championing the women Surrealists who are references in her work, such as Maruja Mallo, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington. She is accompanied in this gallery by other Surrealists such as Ernst, Dalí and Tanguy and by another piece by Sarah Lucas, Bunny Gets Snookered #3 (1997), shown alongside works by Schwitters and Paul Klee, among others.
ROOM 46 – American Abstraction
American artist Andrea Fraser (born Billings, Montana, 1965) is a clear exponent of institutional criticism, a practice which aims to reveal and question the structures in which art, art history and institutions operate making use of feminist, psychoanalytical and sociological theory in order to do so. This untitled series derives from a project of 1984 in which Fraser superimposed images by Renaissance and Art Nouveau artists taken from libraries and museum shops, thus breaking down the aura of integrity of a work of art through its mechanical reproduction and emphasising its fetishistic nature. In the three works displayed in this gallery Raphael’s Madonna and Child is combined with depictions of women by Willem de Kooning, fusing the violence of his expressionist brushstroke with Renaissance idealisation; two opposing and prototypical visions of the female in western art that overlap and are juxtaposed in this space with works by De Kooning himself and other representatives of American Abstract Expressionism.
ROOM 48 – Post-war American Art
Accompanying Robert Rauschenberg’s Express and Pochade by Stuart Davis are four works from the series Art for Modern Architecture by Marine Hugonnier (born Paris, 1969). These are collages applied to the front pages of old newspapers in which different accounts of a single historical event seen from culturally diverse viewpoints come together with the aim of revealing geopolitical implications and different interpretations of the same reality in a specific context. Also on display here is Stack of Five MDF Painted Sculpture 003 (2014) by the Canadian artist Angela Bulloch (born Rainy River, 1966) from her “Stacks” series based on irregular polyhedrons superimposed vertically in the manner of a totem pole.
ROOM 49 – Post-war European Figurative Art
Cindy Sherman (born Glen Ridge, New Jersey, 1954) is known for her investigation of cultural stereotypes associated with female gender roles in 20th-century American popular culture and the significance of photography and film in that construct. Shown alongside the work of Bacon, Giacometti and Kitaj is a photograph from Sherman’s celebrated series “Untitled Film Stills” (1977-80). These black and white images are conceived as stills from a non-existent film, their ambiguous, solitary and introspective protagonists suspended in an undefined spatio-temporal context.
ROOM 52 - Pop Art
Surrounded by the museum’s Pop Art collection featuring artists such as Lichtenstein, Lindner and Wesselmann, on display in this room is the installation Colored Vases (2006) by Ai Weiwei (born Beijing, China, 1957). It comprises ten Neolithic vessels to which the artist applied industrial paint in different colours, partly covering the original ancient ochre. The work can be understood as a veiled reference to the Cultural Revolution in China in which old artistic objects were destroyed on a large scale with the aim of creating a new society, and also as a critique of the subsequent banalisation and fetishising of pieces of this type in Western consumer culture. The vases are accompanied by two other works from the TBA21 Collection: I Dream of Sleep by Tracey Emin (born Croydon, UK, 1963) from her series of neon works started in 1996; and Untitled (REAL/EGAL) by Heimo Zobernig (born Mauthen, Austria, 1958), whose work looks to 20th-century pictorial trends such as Geometric Abstraction and Minimalism.