Fundación Caja Duero and Unicaja Banco have inaugurated today in Salamanca an exhibition entitled Teachers and Pupils of the Escuela de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Eloy. Works from the Unicaja Banco Collection. It is a co-production that features 57 works by 34 artists, some of them as relevant as Zacarías González, María Cecilia Martín, Agustín Casillas, Vidal González Arenal, Manuel Gracia, Genaro de No, Andrés Abraido, Isabel Villar or the recently deceased Fernando Mayoral.
This co-production features a selection of works belonging to the art collection of Unicaja Banco, which is kept in its buildings in Castilla y León, from the historic collection acquired over the years by Caja Duero and the former Caja Salamanca. Specifically, the exhibition displays 54 paintings and 3 sculptures by artists trained at the Escuela de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Eloy, or who have been teachers at that institution in the last 70 years.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Chairman of Unicaja Banco, Manuel Azuaga; the Chairman of Fundación Caja Duero, José María de la Vega; and the Mayor of Salamanca, Carlos García Carbayo, trustees of the foundation, former officers of the former Caja Duero and Caja Salamanca, as well as other personalities from the economic, social and cultural life of the city, in addition to some of the authors.
The exhibition, curated by Miguel Angel Gasco, former student and teacher of San Eloy School, and teacher, also, at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Salamanca, will be open until 2 November in the Exhibition Hall of Fundación Caja Duero, in Plaza de San Boal, with the following opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, from 17:00 to 20:00; Saturdays, from 12:00 to 14:00 and 17:00 to 20:00; Sundays and holidays, from 12:00 to 14:00. Visits are free of charge.
At the opening ceremony, the Chairman of Fundación Caja Duero, José María de la Vega, stressed that “as important as the origin of this collection is the essence of it, which in this case responds to an exercise of responsibility and commitment of Unicaja Banco with the society, carrying out the conservation, cataloguing and exhibition of the works, to ensure the continuity of this artistic and cultural heritage”.
De la Vega also thanked Unicaja Banco for the financial support provided in recent years for the maintenance of the activities carried out by the Foundation. He also recalled the collaboration of Salamanca City Council and Fundación Salamanca Ciudad de Cultura in this exhibition.
For his part, the Chairman of Unicaja Banco, Manuel Azuaga, had words of praise for the managers of the former Caja Salamanca and Caja Duero for creating and preserving this collection. “With their patronage and good taste as collectors, they made it possible to put together an exceptional set of Works from the Unicaja Banco Collection”. He also highlighted the effort of the current bank to preserve the “heritage and the great artistic legacy received and accumulated by these institutions” in optimal conditions in properties owned by the bank, both in Salamanca and in other locations in Castilla y León, and stressed that this Corporate Social Responsibility action is “another example of Unicaja Banco’s commitment to its customers, to Salamanca, to the region as a whole and to the society in general”.
Evolution of art in recent decades
All the pieces now on display were acquired by Caja de Ahorros de Salamanca, under its different denominations, between 1948 and 2009, a period during which the Escuela de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Eloy was under the patronage of the Caja, now part of Unicaja Banco.
These acquisitions were made either directly from the artists themselves, or in emblematic exhibitions and competitions, such as the exhibition organized for the bicentennial of the School, held in 1984.
The pictures and paintings selected by Miguel Ángel Gasco are an example of the evolution of art since the post-war period. Different visions, different languages: close to realism, with influences of each time. Contemporary and novel approaches can be perceived, typical of the artistic movements that follow one another at certain times, such as abstract art. There are also examples of experimentation in different aesthetic and pedagogical fields.
As Gasco points out, “the exhibition does not include all the artists, as some of the teachers (also artists) are not represented in these collections. Therefore, it is not, and is not intended to be, a retrospective exhibition of those who passed in one way or another by the School, but of those who have left an artistic legacy in the Unicaja Banco Collection”.
About Fundación Caja Duero
Fundación Caja Duero began its activity in 2005, within the financial institution of the same name. During the current academic year, more than 300 students, including children and adults, attended the drawing and painting classes taught at the historic headquarters of the Escuela de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Eloy. In addition to organizing photography workshops and lectures on different subjects, Fundación Caja Duero is the custodian and manager of the Zacarías González House-Museum, as well as the artistic legacy that includes a large part of the extensive pictorial work of this prestigious artist from Salamanca, now deceased.
It also collaborates with the Coro Ciudad de Salamanca by providing rehearsal rooms and work spaces so that this musical group, which was originally created by the Foundation, can continue its work of musical training for more than 120 children, young people and adults. It also collaborates in theatrical training activities through the company La Bulé, and keeps open the Social Center for the Elderly on Calle Rector Tovar. In parallel, the Foundation collaborates with the activities of Edufinet, the financial education programme for all ages launched by the Unicaja Foundation and Unicaja Banco.
The Foundation is also the owner of the Exhibition Hall located in the San Eloy building, one of the most prestigious exhibition spaces in Castilla y León.
Throughout its 17 years of existence, Fundación Caja Duero has developed, in addition to those mentioned above, a wide range of activities in the fields of art, music, new technologies, social studies and discussion forums.
About Escuela de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Eloy
The Escuela de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Eloy was established in 1784 by the Salamanca guild of silversmiths. Its first objective was to teach drawing techniques to artists and craftsmen, and later it incorporated other teachings.
In 1906 the School acquired the current building located in the Plaza de San Boal from Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa and several decades later, due to its economic problems, it transferred its assets to the former Caja de Ahorros de Salamanca, operating from 1947 as a subsidiary of the entity, which included it within its Obra Social.
In 2005, as a result of the creation of Fundación Caja Duero, the School underwent a refoundation, and its building in the Plaza de San Boal became the headquarters of the new foundation and a benchmark cultural center for artistic education.
Thousands of students and dozens of teachers have passed through its classrooms over the years, some of whom are represented in the collection now on display.
Origins of the Art Collection of the current Unicaja Banco
For decades, Caja de Ahorros de Salamanca was the custodian of a valuable collection of paintings owned by the State and let on deposit, which returned to the Mueo del Prado in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, the governing bodies of the institution decided to create a commission to select and purchase works of art that could be hung in its buildings and offices, and an annual budget was established for this purpose.
Thus, over the years, the entity, through its different corporate names, built up its own collection, with works acquired at auctions, purchased from private individuals or even through donations from the artists themselves.