”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art

Selected by Enrique Vila-Matas

  • Carlos Pazos_web crop

    Carlos Pazos, Milonga, 1980 (detail), Hand-coloured photograph with collage and fluorescent light, 105 × 100 cm. © Carlos Pazos, A+V Agencia de Creadores Visuales, 2019

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 17 Jan – 28 Apr 2019

”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art
Selected by Enrique Vila-Matas

17 January – 28 April 2019

Internationally acclaimed authors explore Spain’s leading collection of contemporary art in this series of four displays taking place over the course of a year.

A haunting portrait by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932, Germany), I.G (1993), features a nude with her back to us, facing a dark interior. Nearby, in a video installation by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (b. 1965, France), a young girl is seated on the floor in a glass room as ghostly images appear behind her. These enigmatic works were chosen from ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art by the preeminent Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas (b. 1948) for his display Cabinet d’amateur, an oblique novel. Known for metafictions that blend genres, he uses these works to meditate on his literary and artistic influences in a new text accompanying this display.

Vila-Matas seeks truth through fiction and values ‘the ambiguity of experience’. A video by Dora García (b. 1965, Spain) features a girl receiving strict instruction on how to perform breathing exercises. In a staged self-portrait by Carlos Pazos (b. 1949, Spain) the artist appears lost in melancholic reverie at a Barcelona nightclub. These small dramas contrast with seemingly timeless landscapes. A mixed media painting by Miquel Barceló (b. 1957, Spain) and a digitally collaged photograph by Andreas Gursky (b. 1955, Germany) take a ground level and an aerial perspective on the land, where the human figure is absent or minute.

This display is the first of four from ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art, established in 1985 to foster dialogue between Spanish and international art. Whitechapel Gallery has invited leading authors to curate the displays and to contribute a fictional text based on their selection.


EVM+DGF photo giasco bertoli

Big Ideas: Enrique Vila-Matas and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

Thu 17 Jan 2019, 7pm

Join long-time friends – the renowned Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas and artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster – for a conversation celebrating the first in a year of displays from ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art.



Cabinet d'amateur, an oblique novel

By Enrique Vila-Matas

A newly-commissioned fictional work to accompany the first of four ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art displays at Whitechapel Gallery.

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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.