Biographical forms - Construction and individual mythology

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Chambre 202, Hôtel du Pavot, 1970 Instalation © Courtesy of The Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Biographical forms - Construction and individual mythology

Santa Isabel, 52
28012 Madrid

November 27th, 2013 - March 31st, 2014
Opening: November 27th, 2013 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM

91 774 10 00
# Monday to Saturday: from 10.00 to 21.00 h. # Sunday: from 10.00 14.30 h.


The dichotomy between creative practices and life has been one of the main themes of historical-artistic reflection over the centuries.

From the now classic The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1550-1568) by Giorgio Vasari, the search for elements that link the lives of creators to their work has been one of the predominant modes of narrating art history. This methodology was questioned in the second half of the 20th century, especially with the application of structuralist theory to the field of art studies.

The exhibition Biographical forms. Construction and Individual Mythology focuses on the exploration of identity as subjective construction and reconstruction, in the sense conveyed by Franz Kafka when he wrote: “Writing denies itself to me. Hence plan for autobiographical investigations. Not biography but investigation and detection of the smallest possible component parts. Out of these I will then construct myself, as one whose house is unsafe wants to build a safe one next to it, if possible out of the material of the old one.”

Artistic activity as a biographical construction often unfolds in the form of a mythical story. The idea of individual mythology, whose origins can be found in the literary criticism of Romanticism, reappears within artistic vocabulary in the 1960s. Biographical legend, produced during the construction of an individual mythology, is a critique of biographism: it gives form to the identity crises experienced by the individual in his or her different relationships of cultural and social belonging. In this regard, the exhibition challenges the traditional format of a linear art history focused primarily on the progression of styles and the succession of artists’ lives, to put the spotlight on individual identity as an experimental form.