Juan Muñoz 1953-2001

Artist biography

Spanish sculptor, draughtsman and painter. He was educated at Central School of Art and Design, London (1979), Croydon School of Art (1980–82) and the Pratt Graphic Centre, New York (1982–3). His work deals primarily with the figure and usually takes the form of cast sculptures and delicate drawings. Muñoz's art seemed to derive more from a classical or Baroque sensibility than from a purely contemporary one, working within a language of interior spaces, muteness and absence. The figure sculptures are defined by a seemingly realistic rendering that harbours discrepancies such as their diminutive scale, blinded eyes or blurred faces. The drawings concentrate more on caricatures or empty rooms. His earliest sculptures took the form of balconies and banisters, placed in inappropriate places in a gallery. Only later did Muñoz address himself directly to the human figure, rather than to its supports or its absence. Conversation Piece (1991; see 1996 exh. cat. pp. 131–3) consists of absurdist figures (with gigantic rotund bases in lieu of feet) placed around the gallery as if they were talking to each other or listening in on inaudible conversations. Their seeming animation serves to distance the viewer from the sculptural space rather than to include him or her in it. The same is true of Plaza (1996; see 1996 exh. cat., pp. 147–51), where a large crowd of oriental-looking figures with identical faces gather together in seemingly rowdy conversation, generating a tension with the silence of the piece as a whole.

Juan Muñoz (exh. cat., Valencia, IVAM, Cent. Carme, 1992)
Juan Muñoz (Nîmes, Carré A., 1994)
Juan Muñoz: Monologue & Dialogue (exh. cat., essay J. Lingwood, Madrid, Mus. N. Cent. A., Reina Sofía, 1996)
Silence Please (Zurich, 1996) [stories inspired by Muñoz's work]

10 December 2000

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