The Luis Seoane Foundation was established in 1996 by the A Coruña City Council. The artist’s widow, María Elvira Fernández López, wanted to have a place that focused on studying Seoane’s work, and to that purpose she then donated letters and other written documents. She also donated a very important art collection that included over two hundred oil paintings, all of his published work, and more than a thousand drawings, sketches and first editions that the artist had made during his exile in Buenos Aires and his trips to Galicia.
Luis Seoane had been born in Buenos Aires in 1910, and his family hailed originally from Arca (a small village not far from Santiago de Compostela), but A Coruña was the place where his parents and their three kids settled down after coming back from Argentina in 1916. And once he got his Law degree from the University of Santiago de Compostela, it was in A Coruña that he started his career as a lawyer. A Coruña is where María Elvira Fernández López –or Maruxa Seoane, as everyone liked to call her– lived until she was forced into exile with Seoane. And A Coruña was also the city to which the couple would often return, from the sixties onwards, as they had bought a light-filled apartment by the Orzan sea. That was the apartment where Seoane died in 1979.
From then on, Maruxa became the ambassador for Seoane’s legacy, which serves as a means to understand how contemporary Galician culture came to be, a significant fraction of which was built in exile. The collection of documents that she had built with the artist serves as a record of that process. This legacy gives the Foundation meaning and constitutes the basis upon which its primal goals were designed. This is what Article 6 of its bylaws says about it: “the promotion of research and popularisation of Seoane’s work and personality, preservation and education about his art, thought, design, social, political and biographical aspects; from a theoretical, creative, social and cultural standpoint”.
This is the idea that lies behind all the other purposes of the Foundation that sum up what we like to call “Seoane’s universe”. It was built by Seoane’s systematic concern and work within the spheres of art and thought. The Foundation combines its role as a centre for the knowledge and preservation of Seoane’s work and the production of exhibitions, books, conferences and panels on today’s society.
Seoane’s belief regarding the Integration of the Arts is the tool that makes it possible for design, art, arquitecture, AV, performing arts or creative writing to mix together in order to create projects that analyse contemporary creation. And they serve to educate the audience on his multifaceted work from the same fields in which he operated. Each year the temporary and permanent exhibitions allow the Foundation to approach the organic nature of his legacy and his will to show Galicia’s cultural identity through a dialogue with the Spanish and international scenes.
The learning activities and art education conferences designed by the Foundation and the University of A Coruña are another line of action that helps reach new audiences while at the same time providing content for the teaching community. Lastly, the Foundation supports young creators through a research grant scheme and mobility agreements with art and cultural institutions, thus fulfilling another one of the purposes for which the Foundation was established.
Since 2003, the Foundation has been housed in a building designed by architects Covadonga Carrasco and Juan Creus, a commission by the A Coruña city council. It was built on what used to be the Macanaz military garrison, but only the courtyard remains. This open-air space is the core around which they added the exhibition halls, auditorium, library, archive and offices. It is also one of the signature features of the Foundation.
The outer layer of the building is reminiscent of the structure of a giant hórreo –the traditional Galician granary–. The glass panels make it look light and accessible. The building is located on the edge of A Coruña’s old town. Its size, structure and exterior finish were designed to be in harmony with its surroundings, and make it a good example of how to add a brand new building within a historical area.
1200 square metres with two exhibition halls and an auditorium on the ground floor; permanent exhibition hall and two temporary exhibition halls on the first floor, and a library on the second floor.
Silvia Longueira Castro