Tomàs Llorens (1936–2021), a key figure of art history and Spain’s museum landscape, passed away on 10 June this year in Dénia. His professional activity was decisive in founding the most salient modern art museums in Spain at the beginning of the democratic period.
Across a five-decade career, Llorens combined university lecturing with scientific research and cultural management, and from these three fronts turned his attentions to the persistence of realism in art’s avant-garde movements, the origins of modern art in the last third of the 19th century, the figure of sculptor Julio González, and aesthetic reflections on architecture. These same strands, which would form the subject of his teachings, publications and exhibitions, are the pivots upon which this homage turns.
Tomàs Llorens worked as a lecturer at the Universitat Politècnica de València (1969–1972), Portsmouth Polytechnic (1972–1984), the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (1978–1980), Universitat de Girona (1996–1998), Universitat de València (1998-1999) and Universitat d’Alacant (2000-2005), specialising in the areas of Aesthetics, Architectural Composition and Art History. He was also a contributor to and theoretical driving force behind Equipo Crónica, an historical artistic collective of critical pop-art made up of Rafael Solbes, Juan Antonio Toledo and Manolo Valdés and active between 1964 and 1981. Moreover, he curated, with Valeriano Bozal and many other contributors, the emblematic exhibition Spain, Artistic Avant-Garde and Social Reality, 1936–1976 for the 1976 Venice Biennale, in the wake of Franco’s death. In the 1980s and 1990s, Llorens was in charge of creating and directing museum centres that would shape art’s new ecosystem in democratic Spain, such as the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM), where he worked as its founding director from 1986 to 1988, the Museo Reina Sofía, which he directed from 1988 to 1990 during its transition from art centre to national museum, and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, where he occupied the position of head curator from 1991, one year before its opening, to 2005. Finally, of the vast number of temporary exhibition catalogues, mention must be made of the Julio González catalogue raisonné, a six-volume magnum opus he was working to finish in his final years.
This exemplary work resulted in his appointment, in 1998, as an academic at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the publication of the collective volume Estudios de Historia del Arte en honor de Tomàs Llorens (Studies of Art History in Honour of Tomàs Llorens, Antonio Machado Libros, 2007).
This homage features a pre-eminent selection of interventions — both in-person and online – by figures linked to curatorship, art history, architecture and fine arts, all of which are representative of the professional and intellectual interests of Tomàs Llorens.
By order of intervention
Guillermo Solana, artistic director of Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Baronesa Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, vice president of the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza’s Board of Trustees
Manuel Borja-Villel, director of Museo Reina Sofía
Nuria Enguita, director of Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM)
María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, general director of Fine Arts, Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sport
Valeriano Bozal, emeritus lecturer of Art History, Complutense University of Madrid
Maria Josep Balsach, lecturer of Contemporary Art, Universitat de Girona
Jaime Brihuega, emeritus professor of Art History, Complutense University of Madrid
Paloma Alarcó, head of Modern Painting Conservation, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Kosme de Barañano, lecturer of Art History, Universitat Miguel Hernández d’Elx
Alex Katz, artist
María Teresa Ocaña, art historian and former director of Museu Picasso and Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Barcelona
Francesc Torres, artist
Delfín Rodríguez, lecturer of Art History, Complutense University of Madrid
José Francisco Yvars, art critic and historian, and former director of Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM)