If there's one thing for sure, it's that Madrid has quite a handful of museums and galleries-- The Prado, Museo 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:
- Picasso is crazy. (More on that later.)
- 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')
- 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.
- [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.]
- Washington, Washington... 6-foot-8, weighs an effing ton... [[parents, please ignore this second link; kids, have at it.]]
- 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, and...it 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.|
(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 ;)