Jose Ramon Prieto

Jose Ramon Prieto

It is hard for me to write about such a dear friend who is no longer with us. He has been a great collector of contemporary art, the colophon he got when his art was exhibited last spring in Bilbao, his hometown, where he lived with his wife, Ana, another art lover. art. The Womanology exhibition, wonderfully curated by Lourdes Fernández (former director of ARCO), included her art collection at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. It was curious, for those of us who had seen it hanging at home, to see it in the museum, where it acquired another dimension.

He liked to live with his art and was deeply reserved, but with the illness he decided to share the collection with others. Miguel Zugaza (former director of the Prado Museum and current director of the Museum of Fine Arts) said: "I feel proud that the museum, for a few months, has also been Prieto's house."

He started his collection 25 years ago and made it only of female artists; it was very advanced that the artistic discourse was female. Now it is very popular to recognize artists, but we all know that they have not always had the prominence they deserve

I learned a lot from JR. He was a person who did his homework, who studied, and was deeply informed. We walked through many corridors, many fairs, many exhibitions, many museums all over the world, the three of us together, with JR and Ana, my dear friend. His collection was very rigorous, with an international and contemporary projection. The artists were, are, of their generation. It was impressive to have dinner with the photo in the background of the Pietà of Marina Abramovic - of which she had several works -, one of the most recognized living artists in the international artistic scene and brand new prize winner of Asturias; or the impressive work of Cristina Iglesias, magnificently placed in the house; or the beautiful red painted profile of a pregnant woman by Louise Bourgeois, the only dead artist in the collection; or the fabulous Tracy Emin.

He was interested in consulting, discovering artists and persevering in knowledge. One of the last works acquired was the impressive sound work by Susan Philipsz, placed at the entrance to her exhibition at the museum.

JR was - it's hard for me to speak in the past - a very special man and friend, he wove complicities. The memories with him are countless. His sensitivity towards the feminine artistic gaze was very enriching. It's funny, among the collector friends each one had their own personality, but we had a great mutual respect for each other. It fills me with pride that he named me in his magnificent catalog.

He was an honorary member of the Guggenheim Bilbao and other institutions such as the Prado, the Reina Sofia Museum Foundation in Madrid and the MACBA workshop in Barcelona.

Sadly, he was affected by ALS, this cruel disease. The last few days were full of love, he gave and received, and his love for art was to the end: until the last moment he incorporated pieces into his fantastic collection, like now a beautiful drawing by Jenny Saville who has traveled for an exhibition in Florence.

Dear JR, your friends will always remember you, and I will always hear your “Cristin”.

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