Opened in 1990, this is Madrid’s Spanish contemporary art museum par excellence. Its collection, which comprises over 22,400 works, spans much of the 20th century and is divided into three sections titled The Irruption of the 20th Century. Utopia and Conflict (1900-1945), Is the War Over? Art in a Divided World (1945-1968), and From Revolt to Postmodernity (1962-1982). In Room 206 you’ll find one of the museum’s highlight: Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica. Showcased by the Spanish Republican Government at the International Exposition of 1937 in Paris, the mural depicts the bombing of the old Basque city of Gernika in April 1937 and has become a lasting image of the horror of war.
The crossroads between the 19th and 20th centuries, between modernity and tradition, are represented perfectly by the works of Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa, José Gutiérrez Solana and Medardo Rosso. The museum's permanent collection also includes pieces by Julio González, Pablo Gargallo and Juan Gris, artists that favoured the European avant-garde movements alongside Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Sonia Delaunay and Francis Picabia, also part of the museum's collection.
World War II put an end to the first avant-gardes of the artistic scene, as the second section of the museum explains. Creators shifted towards discourses that were more cryptic and existential. This context gave way to groups like El paso or Equipo 57, which disseminated Informalist language in Spain. Some of the artists who appeared during those times achieved great international acclaim, such as Antoni Tàpies, Jorge Oteiza and Esteban Vicente. This period can be better understood in the context of the European panorama, which is why the museum also displays works by such artists as Francis Bacon, Jean Dubuffet, Lucio Fontana, Henry Moore and Yves Klein. This part of the collection displays examples of Lettrism and Brazilian Concretism.
Since the 1970s, contemporary art has taken many different directions. Topics, forms and resources of today question the very nature of art. Critics, artists and spectators ask themselves ‘What is art?’, as they contemplate many of the pieces on show at the museum. The third part of the museum's permanent collection reflects upon issues such as gender, underground culture, mass culture or globalisation. The Zaj group, Hélio Oiticica, Luis Gordillo, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Gerhard Richter, Pistoletto and Marcel Broodthaers are some of the representative authors the visitor will encounter in this final section of their tour around the museum.
As of November 2018, the cubist collection owned by Fundación Telefónica will be on display at the Reina Sofia Museum. This exhibition examines the central years of cubism and subsequent decades.
Close to 70 works created between 1912 and 1933 by artists of the calibre of Juan Gris, Maria Blanchard, Louis Marcoussis, André Lhote, Gleizes, Metzinger, Barradas, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, Vicente Huidobro or Torres-García, among others, offer a new interpretation of this artistic movement, highlighting its complexity.
The Reina Sofía Museum is housed in the Old Madrid General Hospital, which was built by Francisco Sabatini. In the early 2000s French architect Jean Nouvel led an expansion project which saw the erection of an auditorium, a library and new galleries inside a huge red building made from zinc and aluminium, which is adjacent to the old edifice.
The Reina Sofía also has two other exhibition centres: the Velázquez and Glass palaces in El Retiro Park. They play host to temporary exhibitions and artistic installations devised specifically for these spaces.