Born in 1930 in València, Spain, Juan Genovés was a distinct voice who advocated for political change from the dictatorship of Franco, and his works created a stir in a country run under the regime. Among his original artistic influences were the films of Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, who also had an impact on the painter Francis Bacon.
From the 1960s, Genovés explored depictions of crowds withs paintings that presented bird’s-eye views of scenes in which no buildings, roads, trees or clues to a common place are visible, thus creating a landscape of people in motion. As a child in València, Genovés experienced the Spanish Civil War in a traumatic way, and memories of crowds of people running for shelter still distantly inform his work. In his later work, the compositions grew less existential in tone, but still casted a critical eye on the tension that arises in hoards of people.
Genovés created his distinctive figures from thickly applied acrylic paint that protrudes from the surfaces of his canvasses. The lines that reinforce the picture plane can be read as breaks in the image or as topographies encouraging the directional movement of the crowd. The cast shadow is an important element, with each figure being anchored by its unique shadow. In addition, beads and other small objects found by the artist are attached to the figures on the canvas and contribute to the individuality and character of each.
Juan Genovés is a part of more than 60 museums and important public collections, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, and Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany.