From 14 May to 13 September 2020, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya will present an exhibition about the life and work of Isidre Nonell (Barcelona, 1872-1911), one of the finest artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, of whose work the museum conserves a very important collection. The connecting thread of his work will allow us to gain greater in-depth knowledge of the sources that fuelled his poetic imaginary, with retrospective glances back towards tradition and all the artists who influenced him.
Following a narrative thread, the exhibition will allow visitors to view a current of influences, correspondences, figurative borrowings, and how Nonell not only interpreted them and shaped them, but how he was able to gather those visual references and transform them into an original and singular oeuvre.
The painters whose work influenced Nonell include earlier ones such as Goya, where a very substantial part of his worldview can be found, Ibels, Daumier and Steinlen. Later, the influence of his work marked the development of artists as different as Canals, Mir, Pichot, Gosé, Casagemas and Picasso.
One of the most singular aspects of the show will be the exhibition of a large selection of photographs taken by Serra, Vilatobà, Fargas and Ballell that will illustrate the themes shared by painters, draughtsmen and photographers, as a result of the appearance of situations of great social inequality due to a prevailing capitalist model of economic growth.
Additionally, Nonell’s famous “fried drawings” will be scientifically analysed for the first time, as will the backs of some paintings that the artist reused. All this clearly points to the existence of a versatile, restless artist, open to formal experimentation, who stands out for his original creativity, far removed from the more conventional solutions and responses.