The new exhibition ‘popular’ at the IVAM, commissioned by Pedro G. Romero, is an exploration of what is ‘popular.’ The idea of popular is performative; it has a fluidity that reflects a changing nature too.  Opening on Thursday, October 5th, the IVAM brings to life the idea of the popular in this collection of 1,500 works, bringing together pieces by 300 artists such as Picasso, Josep Renau, Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Varvara Stepanova and Miró. It includes engravings, audiovisuals, installations, sculptures, paintings, photographs, books and documentation material from various IVAM collections. It is not about finding a definition as such but to open discussion about how the theology of ‘the popular’ is very apparent throughout history and to this current day.

As regards addressing the complexity of ‘popular’ as a notion. What is popular is not mass culture. It is not what is famous. It is not clichés. “The popular is among all that, underneath all that, but it is something else,” said curator Pedro G. Romero

The notion of popular is open to interpretation, what we can understand is that those possessing no political representation of their own, strongly develop their own symbolic representation. This has happened historically and is how we see the birth of subcultures, where people band together to build a stronger identity. So, this pushes to the forefront the question how stereotypes play into the narrative of what is popular. This collection of pieces, individually, all comment on society in this way and thereby they are questioning what popular is… if it is not really just mass culture.

The selection of work pays attention to an excess of symbolic representation and where, between all populism, lies our present. The collection has a power which allows us to understand the politics of the past and to be able to construct a narrative, which is not made of clichés but is rawer. Much like the concept of ‘popular’, this exhibition is performative, imaginative, celebratory and proud.

Report by Alice Teasdale

Article copyright 24/7 Valencia



‘Popular’ Exhibition: 05 Oct 23 – 14 April 24

Guillem de Castro, 118, 46003 València

Tel: 963 176 600


Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00h to 19:00h
Friday from 10:00h to 20:00h
Monday closed

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