A visitor to the prohibited Art Museum in Barcelona (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
In Barcelona it collects more than 200 paintings, sculptures and installations removed from other art centers for social, political or religious reasons.
At the end of October, an art museum dedicated entirely to censored works was inaugurated in Barcelona, that is, works that in the past have been removed from other samples or exhibitions because they were considered inappropriate or controversial from a social, political or religious point of view. of sight. It is the “Museum of Forbidden Art” (“Art Museum ban”in Catalan): the collection includes works by well-known artists such as Gustav Klimt or Pablo Picasso, but also paintings and sculptures with a clear social intention and satirical representations of some of the best-known international leaders of the contemporary era. from former US president Donald Trump to Mexican leader Emiliano Zapata.
The museum is located between neighborhood Gothic, Plaça de Catalunya and Casa Milà, in the center of Barcelona. It was born from an idea by journalist and businessman Tatxo Benet, who has been collecting censored works of art for years and still finances the museum. In 2018 Benet acquired the work “Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain” at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art in Madrid (ARCO).“Political takers in contemporary Spain”), an installation by the artist Santiago Serra composed of 24 black and white photographs of men and women with pixelated faces, in reference to 74 people that the artist considers political prisoners, prisoners who have been condemned for their political ideas (in this case close on the left).
At the time, the presence in ARCO of a work with such a strong political meaning caused much discussion, and shortly after Benet’s purchase it was withdrawn at the request of the exhibition organizers: it was essentially censored. Benet later sold the work to the Museum of Lleida, a city in Catalonia.
Thanks to this affair, Benet became passionate about works of art subjected to censorship and began collecting them. Today, more than 200 works are exhibited in the Museum of Forbidden Art, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations and audiovisual products. Many were created in the 20th or 21st century, but some date back to the 18th century.
Among the works on display is McJesus by Jani Leonen, depicting the crucified clown Ronald McDonald, and a sculpture by León Ferrari from 1965 depicting Jesus crucified on a US military plane, in reference to the Vietnam War being fought at the time. Video Freedom Fries: Still Life by Yoshua Okón shows the interior of a McDonald’s restaurant with a naked obese person lying on a table.
The work “Silence” by Zoulikha Bouabdellah represents 30 pairs of stiletto shoes on as many Muslim prayer rugs: it was removed from a museum in Clichy, France, in 2015 after the terrorist attack perpetrated in the editorial office of the satirical weekly. charlie hebdoin Paris.
Some of the works on display have precise political references: there is a portrait of Donald Trump naked, a painting of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata naked, with a pink hat and high heels, and a statue of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco placed inside a refrigerator for drinks . In 2012 this last work, called always frank and created by the contemporary artist Eugenio Merino, was exhibited at ARCO, generating some controversy.
Sculpture “Always Franco” (2012) by Eugenio Merino, who said at the time. “I put it in the refrigerator because I thought it was still fresh, it is still present in our society.” The change since then is that the dictator’s defenders, who were always there before, are now much more open with their ugly heads. pic.twitter.com/TGeihJ04bu
—Nick Lloyd (@Civil_War_Spain) April 21, 2023
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