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100 years of Occidente Magazine

100 years of Occidente Magazine

BNE, AC/E, and Fundación Ortega-Marañón celebrate 100 years of modernity of the Revista de Occidente.

The Biblioteca Nacional de España, Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), and Fundación Ortega-Marañón are organizing the exhibition Occidente Magazine, curated by Juan Manuel Bonet, which brings to the public one of the main intellectual creations of the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset.

Ortega y Gasset founded numerous cultural enterprises, including the weekly magazine España (1915-1924), the daily El Sol (1917-1939), and the Revista de Occidente. Focusing on the first stage (1923-1936) of Revista de Occidente, the exhibition traces the circumstances, scenarios, and protagonists of what was the «fundamental platform of Spanish modernity», as the curator explains in the hall texts since it disseminated philosophical, scientific, literary, artistic, musical and even cinematographic novelties from Spain and abroad.

For Juan Manuel Bonet «it has been exciting to reopen so many books published by the magazine that taught our ancestors to be modern. As in so many Spanish homes, in my paternal grandparents’ house, in the Lugo countryside, part of the magazine’s collection and some books from its publishing house, including Testimonios de Victoria Ocampo, had been sleeping since pre-war times».

In that first stage, Revista de Occidente published 157 issues, and in them participated the main figures of four fundamental literary generations (98, 14, 27, 36) in our country, as well as great Latin American names. A list that includes, among others, Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre, Dámaso Alonso, Manuel Altolaguirre, Francisco Ayala, Pío Baroja, Jorge Luis Borges, Ramón Carande, Américo Castro, Luis Cernuda, Rosa Chacel, Corpus Barga, José María de Cossío, Gerardo Diego, Enrique Díez-Canedo, Antonio Espina, Melchor Fernández Almagro, Federico García Lorca, Ernesto Giménez Caballero, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Jorge Guillén, Benjamín Jarnés, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Eduardo Mallea, Gregorio Marañón, José Antonio Maravall, Julián Marías, Antonio Marichalar, Eugenio Montes, José Moreno Villa, Pablo Neruda, Victoria Ocampo, Eugenio d’Ors, Emilio Prados, Adolfo Salazar, Pedro Salinas, Claudio Sánchez Albornoz, Guillermo de Torre, Fernando Vela (editorial secretary of the magazine) and María Zambrano. Revista de Occidente, in its collection «Nova Novorum» published, among others, prose writers such as Antonio Espina and Benjamín Jarnés, and three key poetic books, the Primer Romancero Gitano, by Federico García Lorca, whose cover was drawn by the poet himself; Cántico, by Jorge Guillén; and Cal y canto, by Rafael Alberti.

Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente, director of Revista de Occidente, emphasizes that Ortega y Gasset wanted «to create a publication that would bring together in its pages different generations in an environment of freedom, intellectual curiosity and critical attitude towards reality. And there we continue.»

Direct channel with the international avant-garde

Occidente Magazine, currently published by the Fundación Ortega-Marañón, and its publishing house played a decisive role in the arrival of the intellectual avant-garde in Spain thanks, among other things, to its translation policy. Its list of translators included figures such as Manuel García Morente and Fernando Vela, José Gaos, Antonio García y Bellido, Eugenio Ímaz, Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, León Felipe, Margarita Nelken, Ramón de la Serna, Ramón María Tenreiro and Xavier Zubiri, among others, and translated the thoughts and works of Jean Cocteau, Ilya Ehrenburg, Johan Huizinga, Franz Kafka, Sören Kierkegaard, Julius Klein, Paul Louis Landsberg, Le Corbusier, Hugo Obermaier, Franz Roh, Bertrand Russell, Georg Simmel and Virginia Woolf, among a very long list of contemporary thinkers and writers.

The presence of art was equally important in the magazine. Not only because it had as cartoonists some of the best avant-garde painters of the time, but also because many of its texts influenced the artistic creation of the time, resulting in a symbiosis as fruitful as it was necessary.

Graphic collaborators of the magazine were, among others, Francisco Bores, the Portuguese Almada Negreiros, the Uruguayan Rafael Barradas, the Argentinean Norah Borges, Gabriel García Maroto, the Polish Wladyslaw Jahl, Maruja Mallo (who in 1928 exhibited in the magazine’s own premises), Benjamín Palencia, Carlos Sáenz de Tejada and José María Ucelay.

A choral display of disciplines and genres

Both on the wall, where paintings and drawings (by the aforementioned, but also by Luis Bagaría, Salvador Dalí, José Moreno Villa or Marjan Paskiewicz), posters, photographs and films alternate, and in showcases, with books (many of them dedicated either to Ortega or to other writers), magazines and correspondence, what is told in this exhibition is the story of a decisive moment in Spanish modernity.

In Revista de Occidente o la modernidad española you can enjoy more than a hundred pieces, several of them exhibited for the first time, from the collections of the BNE, the Fundación Ortega-Marañón, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Residencia de Estudiantes, the Museo ABC or the Senate collection, but also from several private collections. Some outstanding pieces are:

  • Revista de Occidente, nº 1, Madrid, July 1923. Ortega-Marañón Foundation Library (RdO /1/ 1923).
  • Federico García Lorca, Primer romancero gitano, Madrid, Revista de Occidente, 1928. Cover by the author. National Library of Spain.
  • Jorge Guillén, Cántico, Madrid, Revista de Occidente, 1928. National Library of Spain (AHM/749562).
  • Photograph Five minutes of silence in homage to Stéphane Mallarmé, Botanical Garden, Madrid. September 11, 1923. Pictured are José Bergamín, Mauricio Bacarisse, Enrique Díez-Canedo, Antonio Marichalar, José Moreno Villa, Eugenio d’Ors, José Ortega y Gasset, and Alfonso Reyes. Photograph by José María Chacón y Calvo, dedicated on the back to José Ortega y Gasset by Alfonso Reyes. Ortega-Marañón Foundation Library (138).
  • Maruja Mallo, Estampa, 1927. India ink and colored pencils on paper. 59 x 45 cm. Courtesy of the Guillermo de Osma Gallery, Madrid.
  • Carlos Sáenz de Tejada, Verbena Morning or Pim Pam Pum, 1924. Oil and charcoal on canvas. 190 x 192 cm. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (AD00491).

About the curator

Juan Manuel Bonet, (Paris, 1953) is a writer and art and literature critic who has curated numerous exhibitions. He has been the director of IVAM (Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and the Instituto Cervantes. President of the Rafael Cansinos Assens Archive Foundation, the International Committee of the Vicente Huidobro Foundation, and the ABC Collection Foundation.

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