Centro de Artes Visuales Fundación Helga de Alvear

from October 26th 2012 to May 5th 2013

Language Games. An Introduction to The Art of Our Times

In the era of the global image, each artist builds the criteria of signification of his or her works, constructing a language game whose content must be unravelled in order to interpret its purpose and meaning.

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Juegos de lenguaje | Language Games

Matt Mullican | David Shirgley

Michel Majerus | Silvie Fleury | Heimo Zobernig

Thomas Locher | Jaume Plensa

Doug Aitken | Pep Agut | Carlos Garaicoa

Alberto Greco | Mike Kelley

Jason Rhoades

James Turrell | Ceal Floyer | Mitsuo Miura

John McCracken | Katharina Grosse | Thomas Ruff | Nam June Paik

Sigmar Polke | Luis Gordillo | Roland Fischer | Anna & Bernhard Blume

Mona Hatoum | Liliana Porter

Julião Sarmento

Erwin Wurm | Iskender Yediler

Barthélémy Toguo | Fatimah Tuggar | Frank Thiel | Juan Muñoz

Isaac Julien

Juan Muñoz

A central feature of the art of our times is its variety and expressive plurality. For centuries, European art operated using a homogenous language, a single code of representation. This unity of expression, based on a symbolic convention –geometric perspective– was governed by the wish to build forms and images that would produce the illusion or appearance of reality.  Despite the undeniable complexity and aesthetic quality of the works of art by the Great Masters, from a stylistic point of view art still strived to recreate the external impression of the eyes, the outer appearance of reality.

The avant-gardes would change all that quite irreversibly at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Although Romanticism and its demand for total artistic freedom had already set in motion this process of change –and Francisco de Goya had made a crucial breakthrough when he shifted the point of view towards the inner self– it was the avant-gardes that put the complete transformation into effect. However, one needs to understand the avant-gardes are not the “cause”, but rather the outcome of a reorganization, of a process of rearrangement of the arts as a whole in the face of the profound cultural, economic and social upheavals which would affect Europe throughout the nineteenth century – the development of technology, the formation of a socio-economic order based on the mass production of marketable products and the consequent concentration of large masses of the population in cities.

Art changed, just as the experience of life and cultural processes in general had changed, and as philosophy and science too had changed. From that time onwards and until the present day, the art of our times would no longer seek to reproduce the appearance of outer reality in works of art, instead it critically questions this outer reality. In the era of the global image, bereft of a single code of representation and directed, moreover, from outside to inside, each artist builds the criteria of signification of his or her works, constructing a language game whose content must be unravelled in order to interpret its purpose and meaning. The complex and plural diversity of language games should be regarded as representations of forms of life constituting the core of the art of our times. An art as intense, varied and complex as the world we live in today.

This exhibition is set out in accordance to these guidelines and it also employs the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept of language games. Accordingly, it is arranged into five sections whose titles are open clues, metaphors to facilitate the understanding of these art games. The World is a Text (I) plays with the wide range of ways to incorporate the word in the image. However, the word-image dialectics is a two-way street, and this opens another road –reversible– for artistic play: The Text is an Image (II). Evidently, in the artistic realm of representation colours are not only physical, but also players in a game of meanings and significations: The Languages of Colours (III). The following section, whose title The Betrayal of Images (IV) is borrowed from René Magritte, focuses on the open quality of images: nothing is just as it seems, the signification is open, everything means more, transcends the mere act, the factual event. Lastly, The Mirrors of Babel (V) alludes not only to the diversity of tongues that cannot translate into each other (Babel), but also to the reflections and redundancies contained in the unknown and the dispersed (mirrors), qualities possessed by modernity and by the experience of loss and uncertainty that epitomize our present day.


139 obras en exposición


Ignasi Aballí | Pep Agut | Doug Aitken | Helena Almeida | Nobuyoshi Araki | David Austen | Joseph Beuys | Anna & Bernhard Blume | Marcel Broodthaers | Pedro Cabrita Reis | Anthony Caro | Eduardo Chillida | José Damasceno | Thomas Demand | Willie Doherty | Marcel Duchamp | Max Ernst | Iran Do Espírito Santo | Roland Fischer | Sylvie Fleury | Ceal Floyer | Alicia Framis | Bernard Frize | Jorge Galindo | Carlos Garaicoa | Wayne Gonzales | Luis Gordillo | Douglas Gordon | Francisco De Goya | Gotthard Graubner | Alberto Greco | Katharina Grosse | José Guerrero | Jitka Hanzlová | Mona Hatoum | Juan Hidalgo | Thomas Hirschhorn | Jenny Holzer | Isaac Julien | Vassily Kandinsky | Kazuo Katase | Mike Kelley | Robert Kinmont | Jürgen Klauke | Imi Knoebel | Carlos León | Thomas Locher | Eva Lootz | Morris Louis | Michel Majerus | Man Ray John Mccracken | Jonathan Meese | Manuel Millares | Mitsuo Miura | Manuel Hernández Mompó | Begoña Montalbán | Felicidad Moreno | Matt Mullican | Juan Muñoz | Bruce Nauman | Nam June Paik | Jesús Palomino | Philippe Parreno | Ester Partegàs | Pablo Picasso | Jaume Plensa | Sigmar Polke | Liliana Porter | Ad Reinhardt | Jason Rhoades | Gerhard Richter | Thomas Ruff | Karin Sander | Julião Sarmento | Antonio Saura | David Shrigley | Montserrat Soto | Walter Stöhrer | Antoni Tàpies | Frank Thiel | Barthélémy Toguo | Fatimah Tuggar | James Turrell | Luc Tuymans | Darío Urzay | Mark Wallinger | Lawrence Weiner | Franz West | Johannes Wohnseifer | Erwin Wurm | Iskender Yediler | Heimo Zobernig

Comisario: José Jiménez

He is a Doctor of Philosophy. Professor, since 1975, at the Autónoma University of Madrid and, since 1983, Chair of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the same centre. He has been President of the Board of Directors promoting the Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo (IAC). Director of the Instituto Cervantes in Paris from October 2004 to July 2007, during which time, among other activities, he set in motion a major programme of contemporary art exhibitions which included shows about Tunga, Bernardí Roig, Joan Fontcuberta, Marina Núñez, Jean-Luc Moulène, Óscar Domínguez, Pablo Reinoso, Luis Gordillo, Renato Ranaldi, Anna Malagrida, Francis Naranjo, Nadín Ospina, Carlos Pazos, Fred Forest, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Ignacio Iturria, Cristina Iglesias and AntoniMuntadas. In 2006 the Italian Society of Aesthetics awarded him the European Aesthetics Prize for his book Art Theory. He has been General Director of the Spanish government’s Fine Arts and Heritage department, Ministry of Culture, from the 13 July 2007 to the 24 July 2009. In 2011, the French government bestowed him with the title ofChevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Research Professor at the Freie Universität, Berlin (1 March – 31 May 1986). Member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Aesthetics Studies (1988-1992). Promoter and Director of the Instituto de Estética y Teoría de las Artes(1988-1995). President of the XII International Congress of Aesthetics (Madrid, 1992). Member of the Board of Directors of the Latin American Federation of Aesthetics (1993). Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of La Plata, Argentina (1993). Distinguished as “Guest Professor” by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires (1993). Visiting Scholar, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, at New York University (14 April – 20 October 1995). Member of the Local Committee of 5 Cyberconf – Fifth International Conference on Cyberspace / Quinto Congreso Internacionalsobre el Ciberespacio (Madrid 6 – 9 June 1996). On the Board of Trustees of the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, from September 1996 to February 1998. From September 1998, Corresponding Member in Spain of the National Academy of Fine Arts of Argentina.
Director of the CREACIÓN magazine (1990-1995). Member of the Editorial Board of the Revista de Occidente from March 1998 until March 2001. He participated on the Scientific Board of the Revista de Museología from 1996 to 2001. He is currently a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the magazine art.es international contemporary art.
From 1986 until 2002 he co-directed, together with Professor Rafael Argullol (Chair at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona), the “Metrópolis” collection: a series of books about the Aesthetics and Philosophy of Culture for the Editorial Tecnos in Madrid. Since 2002, he is Director of that collection, which is named “neoMetrópolis”, and published jointly by Tecnos and Alianza Editorial.
His main publications are: El ángel caído. La imagen artística del ángel en el mundo contemporáneo (Anagrama, Barcelona, 1982, 2ª ed. 2007), La estética como utopía antropológica. Bloch y Marcuse (Tecnos, Madrid, 1983), Filosofía y emancipación (Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1984), Imágenes del hombre. Fundamentos de Estética (Tecnos, Madrid, 1986. 2ª ed. 1992, 3ª ed. 1998), La vida como azar. Complejidad de lo moderno (Mondadori, Madrid, 1989. 2ª ed. 1994), Cuerpo y tiempo. La imagen de la metamorfosis (Destino, Barcelona, 1993), Memoria (Tecnos, Madrid, 1996), “Las raíces del arte: El arte etnológico”, en: Historia del Arte. 1: El mundo antiguo (Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1996, pp. 41-83) y Teoría del arte (Tecnos-Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 2002). He directed the Spanish publication of Escritos by Marcel Duchamp (Galaxia Gutenberg, Barcelona, 2012).
He directed the publication of group books El nuevo espectador (Fundación Argentaria-Ediciones Visor, Madrid, 1998), Horizontes del arte latinoamericano (with Fernando Castro; Tecnos, Madrid, 1999), Ver las palabras, leer las formas (Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, 2000), El arte en una época de transición (Diputación de Huesca, Huesca, 2002) and Una teoría del arte, desde América Latina (MEIAC-Ediciones Turner, Madrid, 2011).
He has been curator of contemporary art exhibitions: Ignacio Iturria. La soledad del juego (1999), Patrick Mimran. El ritmo del tiempo (1999), El final del eclipse. El arte de América Latina en la transición al siglo XXI (2001), Patrick Mimran. Vértigo (2003) y Din Matamoro. Imágenes mentales (2005).
He is author of numerous critical texts about contemporary art published in exhibition catalogues and books. Curator of art exhibitions
Since 1974, he has been a regular contributor to various newspapers: Informaciones, Diario 16, El País, from 1995 to September 2008, to El Mundo and its magazine called El Cultural, and since November 2008, to the Cultural supplement of the ABC daily newspaper.