The international and multicultural spirit at the heart of this collection is reflected in the diversity of artists chosen for this exhibition: the exhibition included 37 works by Ana Jotta, Ângela Ferreira, Antoni Muntadas, Arnulf Rainer, Babi Badalov, Carlos Bunga, Christian Boltanski, Danh Vō, Elmgreen & Dragset, Filipa César, Francesc Ruiz, Francisco Tropa, Gil Heitor Cortesão, Giuseppe Penone, Gwenneth Boelens, Helena Almeida, Ibon Aranberri, Jarbas Lopes, John Chamberlain, Jorge Molder, Lucia Koch, Marlena Kudlicka, Miguel Palma, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Regina de Miguel, Rui Toscano, Ryan Gander, Thomas Ruff, Vasco Araújo, Von Calhau!, Wolfgang Tillmans, Yinka Shonibare and Yorgos Sapountzis.
The collection ARCO started in 1987 with the creation of the Fundación ARCO. From the outset it assumed a pedagogical character stemming from the desire to become an example for the constitution of an international collection of relevance in a context where the institutional structures that could assume this role in Spain were still practically non-existent. To this end, the decision was taken to invite specialists to select works, thus guaranteeing independence and an outside perspective based precisely on professionally established and justifiable criteria. The list of these protagonists, in a sequence of time, is already extensive: Edy de Wilde (1987 – 1995), Glòria Moure (1996), Jan Debbaut (1997), Dan Cameron and Iwona Blazwick (1998), Dan Cameron and María Corral (1999 – 2006), Sabine Breitweiser and Chus Martinez (2007 – 2008), Sabine Breitweiser (2009), José Guirao (2010), Maria Inés Rodríguez and Adriano Pedrosa (2011-2012), Ferran Barenblit, Miguel von Hafe Pérez, Yolanda Romero and Glòria Picazo (2013), Ferran Barenblit, Miguel von Hafe Pérez and Taru Elfving (2015), Ferran Barenblit, Miguel von Hafe Pérez and Ángela Maria Pérez Mejía (2016), Manuel Segade and Miguel von Hafe Pérez (2017 -), Manuel Segade and Vincent Honoré (2019 -).
In the words of the curator, Miguel von Hafe Pérez, “Criteria could not, of course, be an exhibition of Portuguese artists alone. This would violently contradict the international and multicultural spirit that is at the heart of this collection. In a time span ranging from 1968 to 2018, fifty years of significant transformations are being presented: from the appearance of photography as a discipline that dialogues with related territories such as painting, cinema and the hyper digitalisation of contemporary imagery, to sculpture that contextually integrates specific social and political landscapes (where post-colonial and gender discourses assume particular density), and the incorporation of the moving image, many are the questions that these works pose to us. We consider these works from this questioning perspective, because if there is one thing that in these fifty years have shown it is the crystal clear evidence, that art is most relevant through the questions it raises than the answers it provides. It is from this perspective that we all become art lovers, specialists or occasional spectators, and citizens that are better prepared for a wide and critical perception of all that is around us”.
The invitation addressed by the Lisbon City Hall, through the Municipal Galleries/ EGEAC, to the ARCO Foundation in order to hold the Criteria exhibition further strengthens the ties between ARCO, IFEMA and Portugal, as well as boosts the work that has been developed in the promotion of collections and the valorisation of contemporary art, particularly in the artistic panorama of Portugal.
The collaboration between Portugal and IFEMA, the institution responsible for organising the ARCO Contemporary Art Fair and the driving force behind the Foundation with the same name, has developed from the Foundation’s interest in Portuguese artists and their work, which is evident in the large number of Portuguese artists represented in the Foundation’s collection. The Portuguese capital was the chosen destination for ARCOLisboa, which is one of the most relevant and consistent events on the contemporary art fair circuit.