This Work is also available in Portuguese version.
This book presents a selection of 100 works from CAM's collection. Collections should express a personality of their own, while also allowing renewed readings and multiple curatorial visions, a fact to which this book bears witness.
While it is true that no collection can represent on its own the art produced in a particular period, this collection constitutes the most systematic representation of 20th century Portuguese art, and regarding the first half of the century, perhaps the only comprehensive group of works accessible to the public.
Without doubt, this is CAM's prime responsibility: to preserve and investigate the artistic heritage it keeps and to make it accessible to the greatest possible number of people.
CAM's mission also involves developing and renewing this collection, to which it needs to establish an attentive and informed proximity to the contemporary art world. In fact, this connection, which is also required for the purpose of activity planning, naturally involves following the artists' aesthetic trajectories but also paying attention to their formative and professional paths, and to international dialogue, which contemporary art embodies in its very nature. At CAM, the interdisciplinary relations that art currently requires may also find a suitable place to develop, especially if we consider the nature of its premises.
Therefore, at the start of a new life cycle and with a view to developing all of its potential, it is expected that CAM will come to coordinate the activities carried out by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation within the scope of the visual arts, ensuring the synergies of this integration.
Traditionally, museums are places whose role is to preserve and deepen our knowledge of the heritage in their charge, while also considering educational activities as part of their public service mission. The existing museums, however, particularly those dedicated to contemporary art, are increasingly meaningful institutions of urban life, iconic witnesses of the architecture of our times, meeting places, inclusive convivial spaces, where activities of a different nature, which some attribute to the "tyranny of entertainment", are also being developed. But these activities must never outweigh the raison d'être of a museum, which is to facilitate the enriching experience of the encounter between the visitor's long look and the works of art. These should not be understood as instrumental for a critical narrative or a curatorial vision, but as unique objects that reveal beauty, confer meaning, or arouse questioning: objects which speak for themselves.