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He was the second of a family of seven brothers. In the seventies he traveled to England to study at Croydon College and then at the Central School of Art and Design. There he met his wife, the sculptor Cristina Iglesias, with whom he had two children. In 1982 he traveled to the United States to study at the Pratt Center in New York with a scholarship. He had his first exhibition in 1984 at the Fernando Vijande gallery in Madrid. Since then he has exhibited his work frequently in Europe and other parts of the world.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Juan Muñoz began to produce works of a “narrative” nature – breaking the limits of traditional sculpture – which consisted of installations of figures slightly smaller than the natural size in mutual interaction distributed in both closed environments as open. Its facilities often invite the viewer to interact with them, leaving the viewer to discreetly be part of them. Their monochromatic figures, lead gray or wax color, gain in discretion, in universality for their lack of particularization, but that absence of individuality questions us and, perhaps, even makes us uncomfortable.
For his sculptures, Juan Muñoz used mainly papier-mâché, resin and finally bronze.
Fragment of the Muñoz Thirteen sculpture series Laughing at Each Other (2001) in Porto.
In addition to sculpture, Muñoz was interested in the creation of auditory character, producing some works for radio. One of his most recognized works in this medium was the one he made together with the British composer Gavin Bryars in the early 1980s, called A Man in a Room, Gambling (a man in a room, betting), which consisted of Muñoz describing card tricks accompanied by a Bryars composition. The pieces, ten segments of no more than five minutes, were broadcasted by the radio network Radio 3 of the BBC.
In an unpublished radio program (Third Ear, 1992), Juan Muñoz argued that there were two things impossible to represent: the present and death, and that the only way to reach them was by their absence.
He was awarded the National Prize for Plastic Arts in 2000. Juan Muñoz died suddenly of cardiac arrest caused by an aortic aneurysm and internal bleeding at 48 years of age, vacationing in Santa Eulària des Riu, Ibiza, on the 28th. August 2001. At the time of his death his work Double Bind was on display at the Tate Modern Museum in London.
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