The selection of works on paper that forms part of the IVAM Collection is unique and varied. In addition to drawings done with pen, pencil or brush, there are historic works executed in watercolour, pastel or collage or using various graphic processes.
Originally works on paper existed as studies or guides for finished sculptures or paintings, and, of course, for buildings, since all architecture begins in drawings. On paper, artists since the Renaissance drew the figures they would subsequently include in finished compositions directly from live models. Then they would work out compositions in more finished drawings, also on paper, before transferring them to canvas or executing them in marble or bronze. These preparatory drawings were prized and collected because they represented a more intimate and personal type of art than official commissions.
Beginning in the nineteenth century, works on paper began to be considered as finished, autonomous works of art. In the twentieth century, the development of mechanical means of reproduction spawned the birth of two specifically modern forms of work on paper: the collage, which pastes together fragments of printed paper, and the poster, large prints produced in multiple editions, addressed to a mass public and often seen in the street or in popular places of gathering like cafés.
Collage, invented by Braque and Picasso early in the twentieth century as an outgrowth of Cubist fragmentation of the image, permitted a variety of images to be associated, much as film montage suggests a mental synthesis that depends on how the mind of the viewer interprets the interaction of images from divergent sources. The Russian Constructivists practised collage and were pioneers in producing posters that incorporated abstract design elements in the service of creating a new society.
Another innovative factor in the development of these new ideas was the photograph’s ability to reinterpret reality. The rise of photography as an art medium, along with the new machine art exemplified by Picabia’s mechanomorphic drawing, resulted in a photomechanical conception of art.
The IVAM collection is particularly rich in works on paper by sculptors, beginning with Julio González and including pieces by early modernists such as Moholy-Nagy, Lipchitz and Calder, while the post-war avant-garde is represented by sculptors from Chillida and Cardells to Oldenburg, Smithson and Bruce Nauman.
In this selection there are works by both abstract and representational artists, from Orphic Cubists such as Sonia Delaunay to the Constructivists, Barnett Newman and the New York School, and from Dadaist Kurt Schwitters to the Pop artist Claes Oldenburg, providing a panorama of all the possibilities of using paper as a support.