Friday, April 06, 2012

Madrid Museums

If there's one thing for sure, it's that Madrid has quite a handful of museums and galleries-- The PradoMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza are the "big three," but there are tons of others. During my stint in Spain's capital I ended up seeing the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Reina Sofía, Museo Sorolla, CaixaForum, and La Casa Encendida.

Here's my very simplistic rundown:
The Royal Academy of Fine Arts: This was my very first stop on my visit to Madrid–partly because it's free on Wednesdays, and partly because it was on the way to my lunch/jetlag-recovery-nap destination of Retiro. All the curators spoke Spanish, and I couldn't figure out the museum layout, so I basically just wandered around for a while and looked at paintings of artists I hadn't heard of (plus a few Picassos, Goyas, Sorollas, etc.). As I wandered, here are some of the thoughts that floated around my head:
  1. Picasso is crazy. (More on that later.)
  2. Goya-- He's quite well known, especially for his portraits, but I tend to like his other work better. (i.e. I like 'toros en un pueblo' > 'Manuel Godoy')
  3. I was super impressed by a work from Gerard Seghers--> I didn't write down the actual title, but the English is The Taking of Christ. It is from 1473, and a) I can't believe that paintings from 1473 are still in circulation, and b) I can't believe how well he captured the way light bounces off of things.  
  4. [I can't draw a stick figure, so even though I didn't know most of the artists in the museums I visited, I was (most of the time) simply blown away by the artists' talent.] 
  5.  Washington, Washington... 6-foot-8, weighs an effing ton... [[parents, please ignore this second link; kids, have at it.]]
  6. Time after time, I seem to gravitate towards more impressionist kinds of paintings, like Sorolla and Cecilio Plá, whose paintings were featured here (and Steve Andrews, of course), so I guess that's my fave style.

La Casa Encendida: This one was really neat, and a fresh break from the more stuffy (and crowded) classic art museums. This venue was all at once a gallery of multimedia pieces by young [and more "modern"] creative artists; a learning center with a library, computers, and classes; a social gathering place with a courtyard, an awesome roof terrace, and a coffee shop; and more. I really liked it.

CaixaForum: Seemed neat, but I stopped in the foyer once I realized there was free wifi. Heh....

Reina Sofía: Dang. Let's just say it was interesting timing when my brother WhatsApp'd me asking, "So how are you handling the language barrier?" It was right after touring this museum, could have been a smoother visit.
The museum itself was fine-- very impressive, with TONS of pieces [and free on Saturdays, woot!], but the security people and the ladies selling tickets supposedly didn't speak English [I think they just wanted to see me struggle...], so I thought I had to lock up my bag in a little locker before entering the gallery. Thus, I didn't have my camera to take pictures (it's only not allowed in a few rooms), my notebook to write down pieces I liked, or my money to get anything from the little gift shop, AND it cost[ed?] €0.50 to check my bag. What a waste, haha. Oh well.
Anyway, this gallery had a ton of Picasso (can you say Guernica? [I couldn't at first, hehe]), as well as a bunch of Dali, and it was here in my journey that I firmly decided that these two [and many other] artists were certifiably insane. The museum does an awesome job of putting the gargantuan Guernica in perspective by surrounding it with pieces from the same [Spanish Civil] war era, as well as Picasso's multitudinous sketches in prep for the final piece. In some of the pre-final pieces, Picasso's talent is undoubted and impressive (the details in on show incredible detail on, for example, a horse's molar); in others, he looks like he might have been a bored 7th-grader doodling in science class. In any case, his mind was definitely...unique.
I did enjoy the museum–it was very impressive–but I think it was a little out of my league.

The Prado: I intended to visit this art giant on two separate occasions, but never did. The first time I was too exhausted, the second time, just plain uninterested. Judge me if you will, but I didn't feel like getting lost in a giant museum for the third time in a week...
It's huge. Just believe me.
 Last but not least, my favorite, and my last museum stop of my trip to Spain--

Museo Sorolla: This was Sorolla's family home in Madrid, and his  furniture and decor still fill the house. His paintings, large and small, line the walls, and I loved it. Entry is free on Sundays [anyone noticing a theme here?] so it was a natural stop along the way.
 (Please ignore my talking, altogether. Thanks.)
(even the drink machine had a Sorolla on it, haha)

So there's that. I feel a little bit more cultured now, but I think I'll be fine if I don't go into an art gallery for a little while ;)

For art,

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