Buffalo Bill Romance by Carlos Pérez at the Reading Club

For the latest session of the Reading Club, we counted on the presence of Àlex Matas to pay a small homage to Carlos Pérez (1947-2013), who, in his time at the Reina Sofia Museum and at the IVAM, amongst others, bwas one of the key figures in the definition of the evolution of contemporary art museums in our country.

Buffalo Bill romance

In 2013, Pérez published Buffalo Bill Romance, a precious and beautiful book, published with great care, in which he describes an unusual journey through the avant-garde of the first half of the century, the universal expositions, the trade fairs of eccentricities, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, the construction of the Eiffel Tower, and the work of Vicente Huidobro. The book, which is based around the figure of Buffalo Bill, is a delightful mix of intuitions and of unexpected connections between dimensions of modern cultural history that tend to be studied in a rather rigid way.

Matas straight away observes the connections between the universal expositions and high culture; between the Correspondences of Baudelaire and his criticisms of the Exposition of Paris; between the discovery of Gauguin of a Haitian cabin and his decision to pursue this kind of vital and artistic purity. A space for the breaking down of frontiers (between high culture and mass cultures, between artistic disciplines, between exhibition formats), the Universal Expositions also functioned as tools of national affirmation and as objects of reflection. Around them, as a continual presence, fairs of monsters emerged and among them the gargantuan tour of Buffalo Bill, that after exterminating tens of thousands of buffalos, turned  to presenting himself in a show that touched postmodern sensibilities.

Buffalo Bill romance interior
Without needing to be explicitly mentioned, Picasso is present throughout the book: in the proliferation of the circuses that surrounded the Universal Expositions, in the attention towards the acrobats and harlequins, in the cubitization that Apollinaire does of the Eiffel Tower. At the end, the session finishes with a certain feeling of privilege: that of having read an unlikely work on one of the invisible threads that run through the century.

Related links
Reading Club of the Museu Picasso

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