Joan Brossa : Brossa Poetry

Till February 25, 2018
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)

Brossa Poetry is a survey of the work of the Catalan poet Joan Brossa—largely visual and performative, but above all the work of a poet—from three main angles: orality, the performative and anti-poetry. From his early books to his final visual experiments, the show includes theatre, cinema, music, action art and gestures in which he displayed great originality.

Joan Brossa (Barcelona, 1919–98) developed his artistic practice in the 1940s in a social-political context marked by Franco’s dictatorship and in a cultural milieu characterised by the absence of avant-garde and innovative proposals. From the beginning, Brossa’s work was one of aesthetic renewal, based on literary and artistic research as well. Brossa was a poet, but his works stood at a crossroad of languages. Frequently collaborating with other artists, musicians, filmmakers, dancers, comedians and even magicians, his work constantly went against the grain and beyond the limits between disciplines.

His distinctive position within the Surrealism of Dau al Set, where he was more disposed toward Miró than Dalí; his materialist reorientation in line with the Informalist shift of Tàpies and other fellow travellers; and the relationship and long-standing influence of João Cabral de Melo, are some other themes in our survey. The exhibition is not only an invitation to read the Marxist classics, the socio-political undertones of his poetry or to recover the artisan aspect of his language, as the poet Pere Gimferrer defines it, but a system that connects Brossa’s work with world poetry, with other Surrealist, Conceptual and Concretist tendencies.

A major visual recapitulation of Brossa’s poetic production in the eighties took place with the three exhibitions of 1988 and 1989 in the galleries Mosel & Tschechow in Munich, Joan Prats in Barcelona and La Máquina Española in Madrid. These exhibitions are now reconstructed at MACBA.

After this recapitulation, we situate Brossa’s work in the global space of poetry. On the one hand, in a continental European context with the late-Surrealist, Lettrist and Situationist work of Marcel Mariën. On the other, in an Anglo-Saxon context with the Concretist practice of the Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. And finally, in a Latin-American context with the anti-poetry of Nicanor Parra. All of them show an equal assimilation of forms: what Erich Auerbach described as the global capacity of poetry to give the same answer to the signs of a particular time.

In 2011, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona was made the depository of the Fonds of the Fundació Joan Brossa, which contains the legacy of the artist. The Fonds consists of manuscripts, documents, correspondence and his personal library, among other materials. It is a unique tool for understanding Brossa’s extremely interesting work.

To secularise this great poet is not an easy task and this is the challenge facing this project, half way between Marx and Mallarmé: to give Brossa back his simple and popular voice, what people speak. Yes, people speak with or without a hat, exaggerate an A, say a lightbulb, a railway ticket, a playing card, handcuffs, confetti. People speak Brossa.

Curators: Teresa Grandas and Pedro G. Romero

At different moments during the exhibition period, a group of performers will develop the work of Joan Brossa in the galleries.

Brossa Poetry. With curatorial essays by Teresa Grandas and Pedro G. Romero, a selection of texts, works and poems by Joan Brossa and a glossary by Roger Bernat, Isabel de Naverán and María Salgado. 180 images approx. Barcelona: MACBA, 2017. 260 pp. Catalan, Spanish and English editions.

Related activities:
People Speak Brossa
By Pedro G. Romero
December 11–12, 6–8pm
Meier Auditorium

Registration at

Living Arts
Curated by Pablo Martínez and José Luis Villalobos
October 27, November 3 and 10
Capella MACBA

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Plaça dels Àngels, 1
08001 Barcelona
Tel. info:+ 34 93 481 33 68 (museum hours)

 Photo: Brossa Itinerary, Barcelona, 1979. © Colita. In Barcelona per Brossa (Anti-Tourism Itinerary).

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