Juan Genovès

Born in Valencia in 1930, Genovés is one of Spain’s best-known contemporary artists, and he is recognized for his aesthetic style rooted in Social Realism and Pop, with a distinctly critical voice that became a force for political change during the Franco regime in Spain.


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Trained at the Valencia Art College Genovés was always an inquiring painter, concerned both with the need to renovate Spanish art and also with the function of art and the artist in society. His firm conviction that art was transforming, and his concern for his environment lead him to join several important movements in the post war Spanish art scene: Los Siete (The Seven) 1949, Parpallós (1956) and Hondo (1960). It was in this last group that presented a new approach to figurative painting opposing Informalism, that Genovés developed a style of painting that was expressionist and provocative.



During the sixties Genovés had a creative crisis which he got over quickly. He became very involved in the opposition movements of the time against the Franco regime as a child in Valencia. Genovés experienced the Spanish Civil War in a traumatic way: bombardments, death squads, neighborhoods silenced with wounded and dead citizens. As leftist Republicans, he and his family endured the rule of the Nationalist party. In 1958 he settled permanently in Madrid and joined Marlborough Gallery in 1966. He started to consider two subjects in his painting: the “individual” which he represented through collage and “the crowd” which he painted in flat colours and in a cinematographic style.

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. In 1976, he was detained and held in solitary confinement for seven days for having made a poster demanding amnesty for political prisoners. Throughout the 1980s, Genovés began to focus increasingly on artistic activities and peace efforts, while exhibiting both internationally and in Spain. A member of the Image Collective of the Spanish Communist Party during the 1970s, he played a role in the recovery of Spain’s democracy and his work became a symbol of Catalan pride.


Genovés’ art repeatedly addresses two subjects: the “alone individual” and the “multitude,” working with flat inks and plastic structures with a distinct cinematic quality. Many of his works explore the concept of the multitude, where the collective body of humanity is pulled toward something greater than the individual. These works depict bird’s-eye views of empty landscapes devoid of buildings, roads, trees or any context clues, creating a sense of anxiety and dislocation.

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Genovés’ work is found in many of the most important public collections in the United States and Europe, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Galeria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy; The Museum of Modern Art and The Guggenheim Museum, both in New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; IVAM, Valencia, Spain; Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium.

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