Both in the origin of human history and in the history of European art there are hands. Based on these two premises, Alexandra Laudo, curator of the new exhibition of the Visual Arts Program of the Culture Area of the Diputació de Barcelona, reviews salient aspects of the cultural history of hands and our tactile relationship with the world It does so through a dialogue between contemporary works of art by current artists and a selection of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern art pieces from the collection of the National Museum of 'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), an institution that has collaborated in this exhibition, together with the various municipalities in the demarcation of Barcelona that will host it between 2022 and 2024.
Anònim. Catalunya-Aragó. Taller de la Ribagorça Frontal d’altar de Sant Climent de Taüll Segona meitat del segle XIII. Adquisició de la col·lecció Plandiura, 1932. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona MNAC 00308-000 ©Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
In the words of the curator, "the assembled works invite us to think about the forms of communication, production, relationship and knowledge that over time have been articulated through hands and contact", in an exhibition that "also pays attention to the progressive evolution, in recent times, towards a digital culture, in which craftsmanship coexists with forms of relationship based on finger contact and the mediation of devices and touch screens, which mitigate and transform our physical relationship with the objects, people and other elements of our environment".
The areas, the artists, the works
The dialogue proposed by Alexandra Laudo is articulated in nine thematic areas: Hands, authority, power; Hands, literacy, history; Hands, control, determination; Hands, work, care; Hands, money, value; The hands, the breasts, the martyrdom; The hands, the medicine, the sick body; Hands, desire, sin; and The hands, the beginnings, the endings. And it proposes a selection of twenty-five works by the artists Antoni Abad, Isabel Banal, Isabel Barios, Damià Campeny, Colita, Mirari Echávarri, Raquel Friera, Camille Henrot, Fermín Jiménez Landa, Claudi Lorenzale, Mestre de Cinctorres, Joan Morey, Antoni Muntadas, Levi Orta, Pasqual Ortoneda and María Sánchez, as well as anonymous works from the 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th centuries and also coins from the 20th century.
Claudi Lorenzale Sugrañes, Barcelona, 1816-1889. Estudi de dues mans sostenint unes brides. Cap a 1850-1870. Adquisició, 1918. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona MNAC 005989-D ©Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
A tour of the exhibition shows facts such as the fact that, although the hands are at the origin of artistic creation, art is almost always a territory that has prioritized sight, especially for reasons of conservation. Or that the development of digital technologies has redefined our tactile relationship with the world and with people. The importance of tactility has been highlighted more than ever with the covid-19 pandemic, remarking, in the words of the curator that "to touch is to leave a part of us on the surface of the world and of others, and also it is, at the same time, changing, mutating, being transformed in this contact that alters our individuality and allows us to be, momentarily, a plural singularity".
Bringing contemporary art closer to the territory and to all people
The Artistic Diffusion Office of the Culture Area of the Barcelona Provincial Council, through its Visual Arts Program, wants to go beyond supporting local contemporary art policies in the demarcation, in the same way that the MNAC wants to do much more than collect, study, preserve and exhibit its holdings. Both institutions seek to connect citizens with art to facilitate access and the generation of ideas, creativity, education and knowledge. With their collaboration in the "History of the hands" exhibition, they want to share all these objectives with the councils that will host the exhibition and with those who will visit it.
Isabel Barios Ibars. Mans invisibles , 2019
"History of the hands" began its journey in March 2022 at the Granollers Museum and continued at the Sabadell Art Museum. From September 16th until November 6th you can enjoy it at the Joan Abelló Municipal Museum (Mollet del Vallès). And, until March 2024, it will be installed in seven more exhibition spaces: the Contemporary Art Center La Sala (Vilanova i la Geltrú), the Sala dels Trinitaris (Vilafranca del Penedès), the Cultural Center El Casino ( Manresa), the Sala Muncunill (Terrassa), the Muxart Contemporary Art and Creation Space (Martorell), the MAC La Presó (Mataró) and the Cerdanyola Art Museum.
Antoni Muntadas. Gestes, 2003 ©Muntadas, VEGAP, Barcelona 2022
With the intention of offering resources to visitors to contextualize and deepen the themes and approaches of the exhibition, "History of the hands" also offers an educational service run by Ágora Cultural Services, related activities, a documentation space and a catalog. The exhibition has different accessibility services: texts in Braille, with macro characters and easy to read, interpretation in sign language and adapted educational services. And, to enrich this dialogue between works by contemporary artists and works from the MNAC collection, "History of the Hands" invites the municipalities participating in the tour to incorporate local works.
Anònim. Escola de Nottingham Santa Anna i la Mare de Déu nena Mitjan segle XV Adquisició de la col·lecció Plandiura, 1932 Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona MNAC 004353-000 ©Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
You will find more information at www.diba.cat/web/oda/historiadelesmans and on the social networks of the Culture Area of the Barcelona Provincial Council, with the tag #HistòriaDeLesMans .
This action by the Provincial Council of Barcelona responds to the Sustainable Development Goals (ODS). The 17 SDGs were proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, 2015 and are part of the Global Agenda for 2030. The Diputació de Barcelona assumes compliance and deploys its action to support local governments of the province in accordance with these ODS.
In the main image: Isabel Banal. Finish and start, 2020-2021