While it boasts the best collection of 19th-century art in Portugal, the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado also has a collection of 20th- and 21st-century Portuguese art that gives the visitor a comprehensive and detailed insight into the sweep of Modernism and Post-Modernism in Portugal.
This exhibition does not provide an exhaustive cataloguing of such works, but it does present an objective and expertly curated anthology of some of those movements by revealing pieces by some of Portugal’s most skilled artists to the public. Together with the presentation of individual works, the quality and breadth of works by the artists featured in the MNAC collection, due to their conceptually coherent approach, have allowed us to put together more extensive groups of works by individual artists, as in the case of Lanhas, Joaquim Rodrigo and Lourdes Castro.
The overriding criterion for inclusion was each artist’s alignment with the international scene of the time, from Modernism to contemporary art – sometimes acting as a forerunner to these currents – and the critical and public recognition of their artistic endeavours. All of them are key figures in the modern historiography of Portuguese art, and any one of them might figure in an overarching history of modern and contemporary Western art.