Atlante (2004), work in felt tip by Bruno Ceccobelli, seen below the 15th-century carved polychrome wood ceiling in the museum entrance.
Atlante (2004 ), work in felt tip by Bruno Ceccobelli, seen below the 15th-century carved polychrome wood ceiling in the museum entrance.
SANTA FE’S FORMER CONVENT
The Roberto Polo Collection. Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art of Castile-La Mancha (CORPO) is an initiative by the government of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. Inaugurated on 27 March 2019, it is one of the few museums in the world created by a government to house a private collection. The plan is to establish two permanent venues in two cities of this autonomous community, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites –Toledo and Cuenca. The building in Toledo that now houses part of the Collection is the former convent of Santa Fe, constructed between the 9th and 18th centuries; it is a building of cultural interest and a national monument. In the near future, the Collection will be extended to the city of Cuenca, which is already a hubfor abstract art in Spain.
CORPO evolved under the artistic direction of Rafael Sierra and is governed by the Roberto Polo Collection Foundation, a public interest entity. One of its purposes is to ensure that the art centre is active in promoting creativity and study, awarding scholarships and offering residencies to artists and art historians who wish to draw on the content of the Collection in an ongoing dialogue with the culture and history of the cities in which it is located. Another key objective is that there should be constant interaction with social and academic groups in the surrounding area, such as art schools and university and educational centres, principally those that come under the Community Council of Castile-La Mancha.
The museographic installation of the Roberto Polo Collection at the first of the sites, the former convent of Santa Fe in Toledo, is structured chronologically, encouraging the visitor to recognise and appreciate the way in which art has evolved from the mid-19th century to the present day. The museum was designed by the architect Juan Pablo Rodríguez Frade (a recipient of the National Award for Restoration and Conservation of Cultural Heritage whose projects include the Museum of the Alhambra and the National Archaeological Museum), Frade has created an ideal setting for a dialogue between modern and contemporary art and the building’s original architecture and history. It is 9th to 11th-century Islamic and 13th-century Mudejar and was extended and remodelled between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was a caliphate and a Taifa palace between the 9th and 11th centuries and, before that, a strategic site for the Visigoth kingdom of Toledo.
The museum’s floor area of around 8,000 square metres is divided into 12 rooms, with the addition of the following spaces: the Belén Chapel (an Islamic qubba, or place of prayer, in the former palace, converted by Christian religious orders into a funerary chapel), the apse and the room of polylobulated arches (both of which were constructed under the Order of Calatrava in the mid-13th century) and the Islamic courtyard on which the cloister was later constructed; the Church of Santiago (created in the 14th century by Antón Egas,an architect of Flemish extraction) and a central Baroque stairway (created in the 18th century by Jorge Manuel Theotocópuli, the natural son of El Greco). The strategic position occupied by the former Santa Fe convent, looking out over the countryside from the gates of the citadel, made it a highly desirable enclave dating back to prehistoric times and throughout those long periods of history in which Toledo played such an important role. In fact, the Santa Fe convent could be seen as a synthesis of the city’s cultural diversity and richness. On the site of the first Visigoth settlement, the structural foundations of the convent began with the construction of a palace during the 9th to 10th centuries – the time of Emir Abd al-Rahman II –alongside the city wall. The palace was extended and enriched in the 11th century by the Taifa king of Toledo, Al Ma’mum, remembered in historical chronicles of the time for his magnificence. Once reclaimed from Islamic rule, it became a residence for Castilian monarchs, including Alfonso X the Wise, who was born and lived there. It later became home to the Order of Calatrava which left a strong architectural imprint on the building, including the apse and the room of polylobulated arches already mentioned. In the second half of the 15th century, on the orders of Isabella I, the Order of the Immaculate Conception moved into the building, making it the mother house of the Order founded by St Beatrice of Silva, who lived in the convent and was responsible for the delicately carved, polychromatic ceilings in Rooms 1 and -1 of the museum. This annexe formed part of the convent complex later constructed by the nuns of the Order of Santiago, who arrived at Santa Fe in 1503. It was they who developed the convent into what we see today, a building constructed around a cloister, although building works extended into the 18th century, which was when the Baroque staircase was created. As a result of religious confiscations, the nuns of the Order of Santiago were obliged to leave the convent in 1855.In 1873 the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family of Loreto moved in, converting the building into a school, which it continued to be until its closure in 1973 when this historical property was acquired by the government of Castile-La Mancha. It remained in a state of abandonment until 2000when the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute (IPCE) began a restoration programme, completed in 2003.
Now, with its transformation into the museum of the Roberto Polo Collection. Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art of Castile-La Mancha a new chapter is being written in the history of Toledo –Spain’s second most visited city. Today, in a world where art and shrines dedicated to artare taking the place of religion and worship in our universal geography, Toledo finds itself once again at the forefront of contemporary life.
Moon Shadows (2005), work by Miquel Navarro on display among the archaeological remains of the Andalusi-period palace (room -1).