The beauty of failure / The failure of beauty

Temporary exhibitions


As part of the programme for the Universal Forum of Cultures 2004 in Barcelona, the Joan Miró Foundation will be showing The beauty of failure / The failure of beauty, an exhibition about how the great dreams – the utopias – that seem so splendid in the abstract are doomed to failure when we try to materialise them, because they presuppose an entirely new, ideal society that can never exist.

The curator, Harald Szeemann, art critic and historian, has for over forty years been an "exhibition producer", as he likes to call himself; he was director of the Kunsthalle Berne from 1961 to 1969, director of Documenta 5 in Kassel, and director of the 48th and 49th editions of the Venice Biennale. He has become a symbol of the independent exhibition curator, and some of his shows are reference points in the history of twentieth-century art.

The exhibition will cover the great utopias, from nineteenth-century anarchism and its sequel in Barcelona during the Civil War, via the utopia of the total work of art, down to the social utopia of the late-1960s. In contrast, we have the art of the present generations, who mistrust utopias in general and opt for the individual experience, the concepts of love, education, sport, life and death, without entering into any direct criticism of society, although they do show that there can be no art without roots.

The exhibition highlights the contradiction between the utopian vision of the individual, of the artist, of the ethic of presentiment, and the art that emerges from an individual who expresses what he feels, including his way of relating to his own or other people’s cultures, and who questions multiculturalism and globalisation: the arrogance of the Western powers, the radicalisation of Islam, and the economic, political and military ambitions of China that all condition life today.

The artist protects himself by looking at the most everyday situations as a solution to such devastating failure.