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Against censorship. The Museum of Prohibited Art Barcelona is coming

Museu de l'Art Prohibit Barcelona és el primer museu del món dedicat a exposar obres d'art que han estat censurades, prohibides o retirades d'exhibició

Against censorship. The Museum of Prohibited Art Barcelona is coming
bonart barcelona - 24/10/23

During ARCO 2018, the collector Tatxo Benet acquired a work by the artist Santiago Sierra, Political prisoners in contemporary Spain. Hours later, when it was already in his possession, the gallery that had sold the piece removed it from the stand. The mere qualification of "political prisoners" caused it to be CENSORED. Someone considered that the visitors of that edition of ARCO should not come across the work of Santiago Sierra. The incident laid the foundations for imagining a singular collection. After five years, the sum of the works that have suffered censorship, cancellation or attacks of various kinds has given rise to the Museum of Forbidden Art.

The Museu de l'Art Prohibit Barcelona is the first museum in the world dedicated to exhibiting works of art that have been censored, banned or withdrawn from exhibition. Directed by Rosa Rodrigo – from the Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, where she was the Director of Strategic Development of Commercial and Public Business–, it has the artistic direction of Carles Guerra, independent researcher and curator, who was director of La Vicereina Center de la Imatge, Chief Curator of the MACBA and executive director of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation between 2015 and 2020.

Located in the Garriga Nogués house, the work of the architect Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia, the Museum of Prohibited Art exhibits the pieces that the journalist and businessman Tatxo Benet has acquired in recent years. The group brings together paintings, sculptures, installations, audiovisuals, engravings and photographs, mostly created during the second half of the 20th century and the 21st century.

Many of the works are by artists of international prestige such as Ai Wei Wei or Robert Mapplethorpe, others are iconic pieces in the history of contemporary art such as León Ferrari's Western and Christian Civilization or the Piss Christ by Andrés Serrano. Others have been created by great names in the history of art such as Pablo Picasso or Gustave Klimt, artists who have not been excluded from acts of censorship either.

The collection of the Museum of Prohibited Art brings together more than 200 works that have been censored, banned or denounced for political, social or religious reasons. Among the pieces that form part of the collection are paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs, installations and audiovisual works that form a broad sample of cases that have often transcended the media and social networks. The collection includes works by artists of international prestige, such as Ai Weiwei, Robert Mapplethorpe or Tania Bruguera; and it also has iconic pieces in the history of contemporary art, such as León Ferrari's Western and Christian Civilization or Andrés Serrano's Piss Christ, which have long been associated with heated debates. Other names such as Pablo Picasso, Francisco de Goya and Gustav Klimt were also not exempt from censorship and are part of this unique collection. So, the works that make up the collection trace a temporal arc that goes from the Enlightenment period to the neoliberal societies of our present, from the 18th century to the 21st century.

Tatxo Benet (Lleida, 1957) is an entrepreneur and journalist. He began to initiate this collection, which has a specific and unique mission in the world, with the work Political prisoners in contemporary Spain by Santiago Sierra. The work was withdrawn from ARCO in 2018, and is currently on loan to the Museu de Lleida, where it is on display. Since then, Tatxo Benet has continued to expand the collection and has consolidated it to make it accessible to visitors. Founding member of the Mediapro audiovisual group, Tatxo Benet is also the promoter of several cultural projects such as the Ona bookstore, by Pau Claris, or the publishing group Suma Llibres.

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