The Pain in Spain: In a Country Where the Public Idolizes Great Artists, There Are Few Great Collections of Modern Art

Acquiring art has devolved into the hands of a few wealthy collectors and corporations, which are legally obligated to spend a percentage of their funds on “social projects,” including art collections and exhibitions. The same artists’ names are found over and over among these holdings. Centro Botín, designed by Renzo Piano, opened in Santander this past June. The distinctive character of the Spanish art market has its roots in the autonomías , the regional governments that exist because the Iberian peninsula was originally home to a number of independent kingdoms with different languages and cultures, the most powerful and wealthy of them being País Vasco, the northern Basque Country, and Catalonia, the rich heartland and industrial center, whose capital is Barcelona. Each autonomía supports its local artists by funding museums, exhibitions, purchases, and public art commissions, with party officials taking part in all decisions. Currently, the autonomía that has [...]