Spain and Catalonia have lost a great patron of art. Antoni Vila Casas, born in Barcelona in 1930, was a businessman in the pharmaceutical industry. In 1986, he created the Vila Casas Foundation, dedicated to socio-health research, then expanded the activity of his foundation in 1998 to research in the fields of contemporary art and architecture. His foundation today has three contemporary art museums and two art centers.
A great collector of contemporary art, Antoni Vila Casas has exhibited more than 3,000 pieces from his collection in his various museums. These are mainly works by post-war Catalan artists, from the 1930s to today, such as Antoni Llena, Ràfols Casamada, Jaume Plensa, Frederic Amat, Joan Pere Viladecans and Perejaume, most of whom are poorly represented in public museums. The patron also supports the work of other Catalan artistic institutions, notably the Miró Foundation in Barcelona, to which he donated one million euros in 2019, paid over ten years (2020-2030).
The first of its museums opened its doors in Torroella de Montgrí (Girona) in 2000, within the walls of the Palau Solterra, a palace of civil architecture from the 15th century. It initially housed part of the patron’s collection, before becoming the Museum of Contemporary Photography. A second museum, Can Mario, was then inaugurated in Palafrugell (Girona) in 2004, exclusively dedicated to contemporary sculpture. This collection was enriched in 2009 by the rehabilitation of a former textile factory in Barcelona, which became Can Framis, a museum of contemporary painting.
At the same time, Vila Casas created an art center in Barcelona in 2002, named Espai Volart 1, whose program of temporary exhibitions focuses on young and forgotten artists. A second space, Espai Volart 2, was inaugurated in 2008 in Barcelona, an extension of the first center.