Rebull, Joan


Joan Rebull

Reus, Tarragona, 1899

Barcelona, 1981


He started as a sculptor with Pau Figueras in Reus. In 1915 he moved to Barcelona to study at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios and later at the Escuela de la Llotja. He continued his training in the workshop of the marble artist Bechini. In 1918 he created the group Els Evolucionistes, which aimed to offer a critical artistic alternative to the prevailing noucentisme. Then, at the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc, he met his main supporters, Joan Merli and Sebastià Gasch.

Between 1926 and 1929 he lived in Paris, where he met Picasso, Paul Éluard and André Cayatte. In 1929 he gave a provocative lecture at the Centre de Lectura in Reus, presenting his avant-garde ideas about the concept of sculpture through cryptic sentences and jazz music. His sculptural work was synthetic realism, hieratic and pure forms. Also in that year he became known as a draftsman in the room of La Gaceta Literaria, in Madrid. Some of these works were carried out in Paris and displayed surrealistic elements. The dissemination of these compositions caused a lively controversy between Josep Maria Junoy, Sebastià Gasch, Joan Cortès, Juan Chabás and other critics and commentators.

His sympathy with the Estat Català (Catalan State) led him to be elected deputy of the provisional mandate of the Generalitat de Catalunya in 1931. During the Second Republic he was committed to the safeguarding of heritage. Thus, between 1931 and 1935, he was a technical member of the Board of Museums of the Generalitat. In 1932 he presided over the Saló de Montjuïc, the progressivism of which contrasted with the academic Saló de Barcelona. In 1933, the National Museum of Modern Art in Madrid exhibited some of his drawings and sculptures along with works by Enric Casanovas, whom he considered his master. In 1934 he was elected member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Jordi. Also concerned with renewing the teaching system in the field of art, in 1935 he became involved, with Ignasi Mallol, in the creation of the Taller-Escola de Pintura i Escola de Escultura de Tarragona.

In the middle of the Civil War, in 1938, he was awarded the Campeny Prize, as well as the National Sculpture Prize. In 1939, the Republican Government commissioned him, Luis Quintanilla and Joaquim Sunyer, the decoration of the Spanish pavilion of the international exhibition in New York, a project that never saw the light of day. Exiled in Paris and London, he returned to Barcelona in 1948. In 1951, his work received official recognition with the grand prize for sculpture at the I Bienal Hispanoamericana de Arte, and he began to be sought after for official commissions, juries and exhibitions. In 1981, a month before his death, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya. 

Noemi de Haro