¿Buñuel! The Eye of the Century

16 july, 1996 - 14 october, 1996 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 3
Exhibition view. ¿Buñuel! The Eye of the Century, 1996
Exhibition view. ¿Buñuel! The Eye of the Century, 1996

When cinema is understood as a synonym of movement, a homage to Luis Buñuel (Calanda, Teruel 1900 - Mexico City, 1983) inside a museum - where static work is the overriding medium - can be seen as a “contradictory” exhibition, as the curator, Yasha David, puts it. With this in mind, the spaces of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía have been set up to create a “subliminal state” resembling the stamp Buñuel gives to his films.

¿Buñuel! La mirada del siglo (Buñuel! The Eye of the Century) examines the close ties between his biography and his work, listing and studying the themes, images and objects that, through obsessive repetition, are considered his cinematographic language and style. In addition, his sources of inspiration are also explored: Surrealism, the subversion of Dalí's fetishism, Spanish Baroque culture, critiques of antiquated catholicism and the transgression of traditional bourgeois morality, moving towards the limits of the binomial vice and virtue.

The exhibition is divided into three parts: “Compulsion of the Eye”, “Compulsion of Desire” and “Compulsion of Death”, which delve deeper into the obsessions par excellence of Surrealism. Buñuel adopts and widens these obsessions in a highly personal manner, even making them the basis of his work. By virtue of stills from his thirty seven films, the key symbols that illustrate the discourse of the three compulsions are: eyes, hands and skulls; nevertheless, the exhibition is also enriched by a large quantity of peers and contemporary artists that complement the dense visual collection and Buñuel's rhetoric. The outcome is an allusion to the body in its broadest sense (as a part and fragment already mutilated and dismembered), to the grotesque and the abundance of signs and symbols of death, for instance coffins, guns, skeletons and insects that devour rotting flesh.

Buñuel's iconographic and objectual universe on display bears witness to the creation of his cinematic language during the first Paris period (1925-1938), although, paradoxically, the will to break away from the paradigms of the film industry is the starting point.

The first films, Un chien andalou (1929) and L´Age d´Or (1930) represent the aperture of new frontiers of expression, with the use of the languages and philosophical and aesthetic approaches belonging to the art movements of the time that Buñuel is involved in - his links to the Surrealist group, the systematic interpretation of Marqués de Sade's writing, the magazine Documents, the influence of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis and the writer and anthropologist, Georges Bataille, among others. From this perspective, film is considered a medium (and practice) in which the combined possibilities of narration and image are unlimited.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes de México
Yasha David
Exhibition Tour: 

Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (December 4, 1996 - March 2, 1997)

John Addams Whipple, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, Jean Arp, Rafael Barradas (Rafael Pérez Giménez), Herbert Bayer, Hans Bellmer, Jacques-André Boiffard, Victor Brauner, André Breton, José Caballero, Claude Cahun, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Salvador Dalí, Óscar Domínguez, Serguei Eisenstein, El Lissitsky (Lazar Markovich Lissitzky), Feliú Elias, Nusch Éluard, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Jaromir Funke, Antoni García Lamolla, Federico García Lorca, Alberto Giacometti, Alberto Gironella, Manuel González Serrano, Francisco de Goya, Maurice Heine, Maurice Henry, Jacques Hérold, Georges Hugnet, Valentine Hugo, Iñaki, Marcel Jean, Frida Kahlo, Alfred Kubin, Nicolás de Lekuona, Eli Lotar, René Magritte, Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky), Marcel Marién, Joan Massanet, André Masson, Leo Matiz, Georges Méliés, Lee Miller, Joan Miró, José Moreno Villa, Meret Oppenheim, Luis Ortiz Rosales, Wolfgang Paalen, Jean Painlevé, Benjamín Palencia, Irving Penn, Roland Penrose, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso (Pablo Ruiz Picasso), Pierre-Louis Pierson, Ángel Planells, José Guadalupe Posada, Alice Rahon, Odilon Redon, Aleksandr Ródchenko, Warren de la Rue, Francisco Sancha Lengo, Jaume Sans, Serge (Maurice Seaudière), Jindrich Štyrsky, Maurice Tabard, Rufino Tamayo, Yves Tanguy, Gilles Touyard, Toyen (Marie Čermínová), Clovis Trouille, Raoul Ubac, José María Ucelay, Umbo (Otto Umbehr), Jack Vanarsky, Remedios Varo, José Viola, František Vobecký View more