Juan Muñoz

1953 - 2001

Born in Madrid (), died in Ibiza ().

“I am a storyteller. When I make a work, you can immediately see what it is; I’ve never been able to make an abstract work.” - Juan Muñoz

Since the middle of the 1980s, he began with arranging various elements – often recognizable at first sight – in a space. With Muñoz, these so-called installations included dwarfs and other humanlike figures in bronze, ceramics or wood, often combined with floor tiles or other architectural elements like balustrades, balconies and shutters. And though the objects he uses appear recognizable as trusty, everyday things, we quickly realize that they’ve undergone a poetic change. The most famous are the mysterious figures with a hemispherical lower section, making them reminiscent of tumblers. Bereft of legs, they seem to be waiting for something, or are perhaps lost in thought. The silence they exude is also to be found in ventriloquist dummies, an item that frequently pops up in Muñoz’s installations. “I’m interested in the incredible loneliness, the simple presence, without pain or fear. The ventriloquist’s dummy waits in silence and looks not at the spectator. He is indifferent,” says Muñoz. He arranges dolls, dwarfs, soldiers, marionettes and dancers on a floor, a wall or on scaffolding. He relates each figure in term of posture, material, accessories and size to its place, its surroundings and to the other elements in his installation. As a visitor, you enter the work and thus unintentionally become a part of it. Looking and being looked at are important here. His works are comparable to décors and film stills; a story is being told, but the viewer does not know what came before or what happened next. We have to use our own imaginations or memories to further fill-in the story’s blanks.

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