New CaixaForum Girona kicks off with an exhibition on the 19th century Catalan bourgeoisie

An exhibition on the rise and fall of the Catalan industrial and financial bourgeoisie in the 19th century titled ‘Gold Fever’ inaugurates the new CaixaForum in Girona. After the merger with La Caixa, the cultural centre of the former savings bank Caixa Girona has been transformed into the new CaixaForum.

CNA / Tania Tapia

May 11, 2011 01:17 PM

Girona (ACN).- Girona unveils its new CaixaForum museum with an exhibition on the 19th century Catalan industrial and financial bourgeoisie’s lifestyle and art. With ‘Gold Fever’, CaixaForum Girona begins its activities. The centre is not new to the city’s art scene, as it comes from the former Caixa Girona’s cultural centre, located in the historic building la Fontana d’Or. After the merger of the savings banks La Caixa and Caixa Girona, the cultural centre passed to be managed by La Caixa’s Foundation, focused on social work. This entity already manages several CaixaForum museums, such as in Barcelona and Madrid. Now, after undergoing a renovation and sprucing up in the Fontana d’Or building, the new CaixaForum Girona is ready and set to top quality standards to host masterpieces, which require certain ventilation and climatic systems in place.

An exhibition that portrays the beginning, the rise and also the fall of the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie of the 19th century opens the new CaixaForum’s activities. The show is entitled ‘Gold Fever’, in honour of a book from a Catalan author, Narcís Oller, who portrayed the bourgeoisie in his books. According to its naturalist style, Oller wrote ‘Gold Fever’ as a fresco of the so-called high bourgeoisie, with a very descriptive style. The exhibition is organised on the bases of the book’s narrative. It displays paintings, documents and dresses from the times this new-rich class was born. The show wants to portray the “exquisite opulence that delighted the elite classes” of the time, explained Miquel-Angel Codes, the exhibition’s curator. ‘Gold Fever’ was unveiled last Friday and will run until August 15th.

Catalonia’s early industrialisation, mainly pushed by the textile industry, as well as the increase in trade with America and the rest of Europe, transformed the merchants into a wealthy bourgeoisie class in the 19th century. However, there was a particular bourgeoisie coming mainly from the Catalan wine industry, which flourished in the late 19th century due to the phylloxera plague in the French vineyards. Catalan wine exports (together with La Rioja) supplied part of the production decrease in France. This fast growing industry created a new-rich class, which soon diversified its businesses and got richer. Those times were known as “the Gold Fever” in Catalonia, and new manners, cultural movements and economic contexts were developed. Those opulent new-rich people hired painters to portray them, for instance, dining or assisting at Barcelona’s Opera Theatre, the Liceu. Works from Francesc Miralles, Francesc Mas Riera or Romà Ribera can be seen in the exhibition. Realism and Catalan Art Nouveau (known as Modernism) are the main styles of the works on show, which also include fine arts objects such as dresses and furniture.