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THE SONNABEND COLLECTION: Half a Century of European and American Art. Part 1
from 06 FEB 2016 to 08 MAY 2016
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art presents a major exhibition devoted to the Sonnabend Collection. At a time when the Serralves Museum is devoting increasing attention to its Collection of Portuguese and international art, the Sonnabend Collection has a particular relevance. Works from this Collection formed part of the Museum’s inaugural exhibition, ‘Circa 1968’ in 1999, several of which have remained on long-term deposit at Serralves.
Created by the influential art dealer Ileana Sonnabend, the Sonnabend Collection is considered one of the most important collections of American and European art of the second half of the twentieth century, representing some of the most influential western art movements of our time. While known for her support of the prime artistic protagonists of pop art, minimalism, arte povera, post-minimalism and conceptual art, Sonnabend’s engagement continued up to her death in 2007. A reflection of the support for and astute understanding of the artists with whom Sonnabend worked in her galleries in Paris and New York, the exhibition reveals the remarkable clarity of her choices over more than five decades, and their lasting legacy.
The exhibition includes 61 paintings, sculptures and installations, dating from 1956 to the present, by 44 artists, the majority of whom are presented for the first time in Portugal. Many of the artists represented in the exhibition are essential references for the Serralves Collection. Among the large-scale works included is the Sol LeWitt wall drawing Arc from Four Corners, realized with the collaboration of the Estate of Sol LeWitt and the participation of students from the School of Fine Arts in Porto. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with information on the works presented and an interview between António Homem and Suzanne Cotter, Director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.

‘The Sonnabend Collection. Half a Century of American and European Art. Part I’ is organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, in association with the Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia (MUVE), Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, and the Sonnabend Collection Foundation, New York. The exhibition is curated by António Homem, Director of the Sonnabend Gallery, assisted by Serralves curator Isabel Sousa Braga. 

Participating artists: 
Giovanni Anselmo, Arman, Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Mel Bochner, Pier Paolo Calzolari, John Chamberlain, Christo, Jim Dine, Carroll Dunham, Robert Feintuch, Fischli & Weiss, Peter Halley, Jörg Immendorff, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Clay Ketter, Anselm Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Barry Le Va, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, John McCracken, Mario Merz,  Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Guilio Paolini, A. R. Penck, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Rona Pondick, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, George Segal, Richard Serra, Mario Schifano, Keith Sonnier, Andy Warhol, Robert Watts, Tom Wesselmann, Terry Winter, Gilberto Zorio.

Image: Roy Lichtenstein, Wall Explosion II, (detail) 1965. Enamel on steel. Courtesy Sonnabend Foundation Collection. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein, ADAGP, 2015

Related Activities

6 FEB (SAT), 17h00
By António Homem, Exhibition Curator

21 FEB (SUN), 12h00
By Paulo Jesus, Serralves Museum Educator

03 MAR (THU), 19h30
By Isabel Sousa Braga, Serralves Museum curator

19 MAR (SAT), 15h30
By Laredo, Associação Cultural

03 APR (SUN), 12h00
By Sofia Santos, Serralves Museum Educator

01 MAY (SUN), 12h00
By Sónia Borges, Serralves Museum Educator


19 MAR (Sat), 17h00
By Mário Moura, Design critic

23 APR (Sat), 17h00
By Leonor Antunes, Artist
Notice: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event was cancelled. We apologyse for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. 

26 APR (Tue), 18h30
WORKS FOR A CONVERSATION: Debates and musings on Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #113 (Arcs From Four Corners)
By Joana Nascimento and Sofia Santos, Serralves Museum Educators

07 MAY (Sat), 17h00
THEMES FOR DISCUSSION: Post-minimalism and arte povera
By Gonçalo Sena, Artist


14 FEB (Sun), 11h00
FAMILY WORKSHOP-TOUR: Image, colour, action
By Inês Caetano, Serralves Museum Educator

24 APR (Sun), 10h00
By Rita Roque, Serralves Museum Educator


Arnold Dreyblatt and Catherine Christer Hennix are two composers belonging to a generation of the north-american avant-gard inheritor of great composers such as Terry Riley or La Monte Young. The recent acknowledgment of the singularity of their paths has prompted the rediscovery of their work at an international scale. In Serralves, Dreyblatt will present both solo pieces and ensemble works played in collaboration with Portuguese musicians. Hennix will create a sound environment composed with her newly created virtual instrument, the tamburium, and premieres a new
composition for voice and tamburium with the participation of Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, the famous and controversial Turkish Imam who is also the lead singer in a rock band. 

13 MAR (Sun), 18h00
Arnold Dreyblatt & Guests
With Gonçalo Almeida, SérgioCarolino, Jorge Queijo and José Valente.

01-03 APR 
Catherine Christer Hennix
With the participation of Imam Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer.
01 APR (Sex Fri), 19h00
02-03 APR (Sat-Sun), 18h00
01-03 APR

The exhibition is conceived in five sections. Beyond being a chronological display with a prevailing categorization determined by art movements, the selection of pieces presented here and the organization of the various sections seek to highlight the conceptual, aesthetic and plastic affinities between the featured artists. At the same time, the exhibition acknowledges the singular contribution of each one of them, along with the central role played by Ileana Sonnabend, a major representative of contemporary artists during the course of the second half of the twentieth century.

The first, dedicated to Ileana Sonnabend, presents the portrait of Ileana by Andy Warhol and the portrait of Michael Sonnabend by George Segal, shown as symbolic and literal testimonies of the importance of these two guardian figures. 

The second is devoted to American pop art and French Nouveau realism. It brings together works representative of these movements, highlighting the complex reaction of their makers towards the inexhaustible source of inspiration offered by the ever-expanding, globalizing and media-pervaded Western culture. This encompasses both their acceptance and, ironic or detached, questioning, in their artistic quest to transform and aestheticize the trivial and the everyday. This sections includes paintings and sculptures by Arman, John Chamberlain, Christo, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Mario Schifano, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. 

A third section features works associated with arte povera and anti-form by Giovanni Anselmo, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Guilio Paolini, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, and Gilberto Zorio. The approaches of arte povera and anti-form artists have links to conceptual art, which also developed from the second half of the 1960s onwards. These links are obvious in the works of Bruce Nauman and Giulio Paolini, which show a more abstract, cerebral dimension, while claiming an aesthetic value for ordinary objects and materials, and highlighting not the artwork as a mere material object but rather its inherent making as a process of reflection.

A fourth part focuses on minimalism with artists John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Mel Bochner, Peter Halley, Donald Judd, Clay Ketter, Sol LeWitt, John McCracken and Michelangelo Pistoletto. A reaction against the abstract expressionism of the second half of the 1960s, rooted in early twentieth-century constructivism, minimalism is characterized by a deliberately extreme simplicity. Minimalist artists sought to overcome the concepts of painting and sculpture, directing their research towards an analysis of the interaction between space, materials, light and the viewer.

The fifth section includes a floor piece by Barry Le Va and paintings by New German Expressionists Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, A. R. Penck, shown together with works by Richard Artschwager, Carroll Dunham, Robert Feintuch, Fischli & Weiss, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Rona Pondick, Piero Manzoni, Robert Watts and Terry Winters. This section assembles works that in various ways and through many different themes offer an eccentric vision – surreal, mythic, symbolic, allegoric, emotional – of real or imaginary worlds, causing a feeling of unease in the viewer.

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  • Days 06 FEB 2016 - 08 MAY 2016

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