Juan Muñoz (Spanish, 1953–2001) is celebrated for his innovative combination of sculpture and installation art, in works that place figures in a specific architectural setting in order to blur the line between reality and artifice. Born in Madrid, Muñoz studied art at the University of Madrid, the Croyden College of Design and Technology in London, and at Pratt Graphic Center in New York. He began gaining recognition for his sculptures in the 1970s, first depicting dwarves and mannequins, and later expanding his production to include ballerinas and animated figures in conversation, often mounted on block-shaped bases that give them a sense of inanimate repose. Muñoz worked in several media, creating multimedia installations to accompany his visual works in some exhibitions, and obscuring the boundaries between sculpture, painting, installation, and performance. In his series of Conversation Piece works, he incorporates the human figure into his public installations, evoking specific scenes, sites, and interactions in ambiguous scenes left to the viewer’s interpretation. He frequently draws upon source material—ranging from literature, music, and theater, to canonical art history—enhancing the multimedia aspects of his practice. He died unexpectedly from a stomach hemorrhage in 2001, at just 48 years old. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Dia Foundation in New York, Documenta in Kassel, and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He created many public installations on commission during his lifetime, and was awarded Spain’s Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas Prize in 2000.

Timeline

1953
Born June 17th in Madrid, Spain
1976–1977
Attends Central School of Art and Design in London
1978–1980
Receives British Council scholarship and attends Croydon School of Art in London
1981–1982
Attends Pratt Graphic Center in New York and receives Fullbright Fellowship through the North American Spanish Committee
1984
First solo exhibit in Madrid
1986
Exhibits sculptures with Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias
1987
First solo museum exhibition at CAPC Musee d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux
1990
First solo exhibition in the United States at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, and first solo exhibition in a public institution in the UK in Bristol.
1992
Commissioned to make an outdoor sculpture on a river path on the South Bank
1994
Solo exhibition at Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin
1995
Residency at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
1996
Two major exhibitions in Madrid and New York
2000
Awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Plasticas in Spain
2001
Died August 28th

Exhibitions

2012
Juan Muñoz, Skarstedt Gallery, New York (solo)
2009
Juan Muñoz, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2009
Silences: un choix d’oeuvres de Marin Karmitz, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France; Museu Colecçao Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal
2008
Self as Selves, Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin, Ireland
2008
Juan Munoz, A Retrospective, Tate Modern; Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain (solo)
2007
The 1980’s Topology, Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal
2007
Comic Abstraction, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
2007
Juan Muñoz: Sculptures and Drawings, Musée de Grenoble, France (solo)
2006
Juan Muñoz, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (solo)
2006
Juan Muñoz - Rooms of My Mind, K21, Dusseldorf, Germany (solo)
2005
Juan Muñoz. La voz sola, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2005
Centre of Gravity, curated by Rosa Martinez, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey
2004
Reflecting the Mirror, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, New York
2004
Bodily Space: New Obsessions in Figurative Sculpture," Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
2003
Unilever Series: Juan Muñoz,Tate Gallery, Great Hall, London, England (solo)
2003
Juan Muñoz, Public Art Fund, Doris Freeman Plaza, New York (solo)
2003
Juan Muñoz, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX (solo)
2003
A Sculpture Show, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, New York
2003
Images of Society, Kunstmuseum Thun, Thun, Switzerland
2002
Startkapital (from the Ackermans Collection, K21 Kustsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany, Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany
2001
Dialogue Ininterrompu, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes, France
2001
Animations, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York
2001
Atlantes, Galería Pepe Cobo, Sevilla, Spain
2001
Juan Muñoz, Sponsored by Unilever, Tate Modern, London, England (solo)
2001
Juan Muñoz: The Nature of Visual Illusion, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark (solo)
2001
A Contemporary Cabinet of Curiosities/Un arca de curiosidades: Selections from the Vicki and Kent Logan Collection, California College of Arts y Crafts Institute, Oliver Art Center, Oakland
2000–2001
Máquinas, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 19 Septiembre-19 Noviembre; Fundació 'la Caixa,' Palma
2000
Around 1984: A Look at Art in the 80's, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, 21 Mayo-Septiembre
2000
Bernier/Eliades Gallery, Atenas
2000
Between Cinema and Hard Place, The Tate Gallery of Modern Art, Londres, 12 Mayo-3 Diciembre
2000
Over the Edges/En los límites, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, 1 Abril-30 Junio
2000
Biennale of Sydney 2000: 12th Biennale of Sydney, 26 Marzo-30 Julio.
2000
Juan Muñoz: The Nature of Visual Ilusion/Naturaleza de la ilusión visual, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (solo)
1999–2000
Juan Muñoz: A Brief Description of My Death/Una breve descripción de mi muerte, Bernier/Eliades Gallery, Atenas (solo)
1999–2000
Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, 20er Haus and k/haus-Künstlerhaus, Viena, 5 Julio-Octubre
1999–2000
Zeitwenden: Ausblick, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, 4 Diciembre '99-4 Junio '00
1999
Juan Muñoz: Crossroads/Cruce de caminos, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (solo)
1998
Juan Muñoz: Certain Drawings in Oil and Ink/Algunos dibujos en óleo y tinta 1996-1998, Sala Robayera, Miengo (solo)
1997
Juan Muñoz: Mobiliario, Marco Noire Contemporary Art, Turin (solo)
1997
Directions: Juan Muñoz, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (solo)
1996–1997
Juan Muñoz: Monólogos y diálogos, Palacio de Velázquez, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (solo)
1996
Juan Muñoz, Galerie Jean Bernier, Atenas (solo)
1996
Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich (solo)
1995–1996
Juan Muñoz, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago de Compostela (solo)
1995
Juan Muñoz: Portrait of a Turkish Man Drawing, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (solo)
1993
Juan Muñoz, Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf (solo)
1990
Erste Einzelausstellung in den USA, Renaissance Society, Universität von Chicago
1987
Erste Einzelausstellung in einem Kuseum, CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporian, Bordeaux