”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art

Selected by Tom McCarthy

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    Sophie Ristelhueber, Fait # 60, 1992. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 19 Sep 2019 – 5 Jan 2020

”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art
Selected by Tom McCarthy

19 September 2019 – 5 January 2020

A strange metal object lies shattered in the desert sands. Is it from outer space? Or is it a fragment of our military disasters? This image by Sophie Ristelhueber (b. 1949, France ), taken in Kuwait after the Gulf War, is likened by novelist Tom McCarthy (b. 1969, UK) to the starling’s nest colonised by honey bees in W.B. Yeats’s Meditations in Time of Civil War (1922). The photograph and poem are the starting point for Empty House of the Stare, McCarthy’s meditation on surveillance and control, and their malfunction and breakdown.

Guest curator McCarthy builds his narrative around the work of seven artists in “la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art. In Illuminer (2001) by Steve McQueen (b. 1969, UK), a man watches a report about military operation in Afghanistan on tv in a dark hotel room. A sculpture by Isa Genzken (b. 1948, Germany) – crumpled bookshelves found on a lower Manhattan street after September 11, 2001 – bears an uncanny resemblance to the remains of the twin towers. From his series Destructuras, Aitor Ortiz (b. 1971, Spain) photographs a modernist building as a haunting concrete shell. If the reels of tape in the archive by Pedro Mora (b. 1961, Spain) contain any recordings, they are irretrievable.

We enter the ground floor gallery towards a radiant portal by Eugenio Ampudia (b.1958, Spain) that might offer illumination and clarity but could be a trick of the light, an illusion. Eve Sussman’s (b. 1961, UK) film about a worker in City-A, a Central Asia oil town uses an algorithm to determine the sequence of scenes so that, like real life, the story is never the same twice.


Display 1: Selected by Enrique Vila-Matas

Cabinet d’amateur, an oblique novel
17 January – 28 April 2019

Renowned Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas explores ‘the ambiguity of experience’, selecting works by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Gerhard Richter, Carlos Pazos, and more.

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Display 2: Selected by Maria Fusco

8 May – 1 September 2019

Experimental writer Maria Fusco stages an encounter, in which works of art by Ignacio UriarteCindy Sherman and Alan Charlton give a presentation at a conference. 

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Organised in partnership with ”la Caixa” Foundation

About ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art

”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art was founded in 1985 and now includes more than one thousand works. The origins of the Collection lie in ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation’s commitment to enabling people to enjoy art and culture. ”la Caixa” was founded in 1904 and became ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation in 2014 following the reorganisation of the savings bank Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona.

The new Foundation inherited the social mission that ”la Caixa” has pursued since its inception to improve the wellbeing of people, particularly those most in need, and work towards the advancement of society as a whole. ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation began organising exhibitions in the early-1980s, presenting contemporary  work and establishing a direct connection with twentieth-century art, before going on to form its own collection. The core of the new Collection was devoted to art from the 1980s, though works by outstanding artists from the 60s and 70s were also included. The questions underpinning the Collection consider: What is the role of art in society? How can we break down the barriers that separate people from art?

From the first, the Collection focused on international contemporary art. Bruce Nauman, Cristina Iglesias, Doris Salcedo, Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, Mona Hatoum, Dora García, Juan Muñoz, Antoni Tàpies, Cornelia Parker, Juan Uslé, Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman and Paul McCarthy are just some of the highly renowned artists represented.

Related Events

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Tom McCarthy in Conversation with Fiona Banner

Thurs 3 Oct, 7pm
£9.50/£7.50 concs

Award winning author Tom McCarthy is in conversation with renowned artist Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press on his work and the ideas behind his selection for ‘Empty House of the Stare’, the most recent in the ‘La Caixa’collection displays.