João Fernandes said that in Portugal more than art collectors have been buyers of art. Tradition of collecting in Portugal.
It is curious to think how in Portugal, in Portuguese houses and in the Portuguese collections the decorative arts are emphasized at the expense of painting or sculpture. This ends up falling in a chain that doesn’t encourage artists to develop, to create works.
Portugal continues to have artists and always had. In the XX century, although things are extremely difficult in the history of Portugal, we have generations of very interesting artists modernism either the first or the generation of Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso, Eduardo Viana, do Almada Negreiros, who were contemporaries of his time, practically since the 60s Portugal has produced successive generations of artists where artists always found very interesting and which are often not known outside Portugal due to the isolation of the country , the lack of structure and lack of collectors too.
The gallery is richer for what they buy than for what they sell.
The collections of Mr. Abreu in Oporto have been an international collection of great size, with Portuguese and international artists, and sold his collection to Jorge Brito, in international auctions and powerful international galleries who came to Portugal in the 70s, because he was frightened by the economic and political context of the time .
Sometimes certain market forces don’t exist because the price of the artwork is set with a randomly between the artist and the gallery regardless of purchase and sale.
I think that over the last 5, 6 years a new generation of people is interested in art, the emergence of this new generation also represents a new phenomenon, globalization in the contemporary art market, the rapid circulation worldwide collectors, the new phenomenon of art fairs, the new role that galleries have, all of this come to Portugal .
Are the collectors that feed the market and in turn allow artists to work and survive.
Portugal has been a very unstable country because it has very few institutions working with art, has a very low circulation system for an artist in terms of exhibitions within the country. It is very difficult for a Portuguese artist, never the less it is easier than other times, move out of the country, and actually I think the galleries haven’t established collectors.
Regarding galleries programming there are sometimes options that I don’t understand. In Serralves we made over 200 exhibitions and off Serralves since the museum opened, were no more than half a dozen foreign artists that we exposed, and there were hundreds who have had exhibitions in galleries in Portugal.
Museums are institutions of reference, see the schedules of museums, see the resumes of artists, there are several ways to build knowledge; I don’t present artists firsthand unless it is a contest of artists. Institutions serve as a reference and guidance for collectors. This new generation of collectors sometimes doesn’t buy in Portugal, or don’t buy Portuguese artists, because they feel unsure of the options available to them. However they will buy in ARCO or London or New York because they feel confident that what a Gallery in London or New York offers.
The art world today is a very prolific constellation of artists and if we see the artists that are in fashion at any given time may cease to be in another, the art world is a very complex phenomenon because somehow became industrialized and in this aspect seems all more confusing, because everything is much larger, there are thousands of artists, worldwide, each Venice Biennale presents us with more than 200, 300 or 400 artists.
This industrialization of art began to emerge 20 years ago. Today there are thousands of people living from the art, living of selling art, living buying art, living exhibiting art, living writing about art. Maybe artists are a minority today in the art world, while at 30 or 40 years ago weren’t. This means that there is commercial and non-commercial art, which is art that sells and doesn’t sell, it doesn’t mean that one is good and another bad.
The art is in principle what artists do. What characterizes the work of art is that there are no rules regarding styles, genres and media, a true collector doesn’t buy works of art only to decorate the house, it is said that a collection usually begins when home decor ends.
The programming of Serralves Museum sought constitute a core that represents the 60s and 70s in contemporary art, we locate those dates the beginning of contemporary art that our choice was curiously accompanied by a recognition soon after, after we have done this and opened the museum, the big auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby's and Phillips began to create specific departments of contemporary art following the same timing.
In the 60s and 70s we saw a paradigm shift in relation to the work of art, we find an entire society that discusses and discusses their limitations, their characteristics, their structure, their forms of organization, etc.. The biggest breakthrough of the XX century in the artwork, in the years 10, 20, appeared when Soviet Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism, the major avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century will be reviewed by this second generation that will not mention, however will carry them in a certain way and recast one way of making art in the sense that Richard Serra spoke of art without boundaries, this radical notion that undermine the art object, which dematerialized the art object, which stops transform in merchandise, that goes against his presentation and preservation in museums, it undermines the museum, the artists at the time closed several museums in demonstrations and strikes in various countries of the world, will require transforming the museums and transforms the art world. This is a major revolution. And no doubt it was important for us in a country that had lost the artistic contemporarily all along the XX century, assuming a museum of contemporary art. Would have no problem in assuming a museum of modern art, but with the budget we had available that would be completely impossible and secondly we think is a priority of a contemporary art museum. We did it in the 90s, we started making this collection from 97.
The opening exhibition of the Museum had an exhibition - manifesto of his new collection, with works of Portuguese artists and foreign, representative of the historical period that is covering. With the title “Circa 68 " , 08 JUN 1999 to 29 AUG 1999 this exhibition held simultaneously Museum and House , presenting not only the works of the collection but also other works that allow contextualize. Constituted thus a presentation about the collection and around the collection, demonstrating the artistic and cultural context of experimental languages that have become a cultural symbol of the western world the year 1968. We present a set of 600 works produced between 65 and 75 , bought over seven years 80 % these works, from 97 until today acquired about 1000 works, and then we have several collections on deposit here, since institutional collections as the Luso-American Foundation , the collection of the Ministry of Culture and several private collections .
But for us it was a priority during the early years of the museum to remove something that was very negative in Portuguese society. If Portugal had no Matisse, Picasso, Brancusi, Giacometti, Man Ray, Portugal had failed in the XX century in a certain way, at least we could have Richard Serra, Oldenburg, Polke, i.e., fundamental names of contemporary art at the same time seek to represent a Portuguese context.
It will be shown that there is a paradigm shift of Portuguese art, is from the late 50s that a set of Portuguese artists go abroad thanks to grants from the Gulbenkian Foundation and also artists seeking information against the regime against censorship, against the lack of freedom. And say obsolete discussions that went on Portuguese art begin to be violated by a new generation of artists , and the generation of Lourdes Castro, René Bertholo, Helena Almeida, Angelo de Sousa, Ana Haterly, Ernesto Melo e Castro, Ana Vieira, we have so many artists who actually constitute a new generation that is contemporary of his time .
In fact Portugal has a new generation that is contemporary of his time with modernism, with Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso, Parisians 1st generation, and then has a 2nd generation only in the 60s, phenomena of artistic contemporaneity in the range of these two periods are very rare and almost only occasional and personal. It is the case of Fernando Lanhas, Manuel Pereira da Silva and Nadir Alonso.
On the other hand, was very important for us to look at the international context from the Portuguese art and look at the Portuguese art from the international context, because there are areas of intersection and there are works by foreign artists that we bought on the basis of Portuguese artists we have in the collection, and there are works of art by Portuguese artists we buy because of foreign artists who have in the collection, thus seeking dialogues, meetings, etc. .
While the 60 and 70 there is a period that somehow encompasses a whole set of nuclear artists that work and work in various countries of the world, whether in Germany, or in Italy, with art povera, either in the U.S. with conceptual art and post -minimal, also in France.
From the 80s the artists don’t exist as groups, movements or languages, each artist is a concept of art is a language, there is no longer a period.
We want to have emblematic works of artists but especially work that surprise. What is a label of an artist is your receipt, we want to be agents of a receipt and so do our research, our study. Regarding the generation of 80 and 90 we are working on constellations of artists looking name to name, such as Thomas Schulte, Luc Tuymans, José Pedro Croft, and Pedro Cabrita Reis.
We do not have a permanent exhibition as the Soares dos Reis Museum, our collection is young and only expose one to two times per year at the museum, it circulates in other museums around the country, and we now have 14 exposures out.
When I look for an artist, I try to understand what is his language, which is what he adds to the art that I know and what problems he poses to art. More than knowing is surprised by what you don't know. The artist builds and creates problems for itself, there is a confrontation of the artist himself and the confrontation that transpires after the work.
Today there are young artists who began working 5 years ago and have an exhibition in New York, in London; it would have been unimaginable 20 years ago. Today there is a great curiosity in the world in relation to Portugal.
For me the ideal museum would be a mixed of a lab, a workspace and experimentation while library for scholars, this museum doesn't exist today.