Prado one day, Reina Sofia the next.
I’m a contemporary art lady down to my only occasionally pedicured toes. I love modern art, and minimalism, and high theory, and mental masturbation. If you give me a choice between beauty and concept, then I’m going to go with concept regularly. So… even though I’d had a good time at the Prado the day before and seen Bosch (have I mentioned how much I like Bosch?), I was more excited about the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and its twentieth century art.
But I was wrong.
I suggested that we start on floor four and work our way down. This meant that we started with the special exhibition, “Is the War Over? Art in a Divided World.” I enjoyed it. I thought a lot. They had laminated cards for most of the sections explaining details about the war, the culture, the art… I thought a lot about how each period compared to the next, how Spanish art compared to the American/British traditions with which I was far more familiar. I thought about war and death and suffering and trials.
And it was exhausting.
Now… there were some artists that I really enjoy.
There was some Motherwell. I saw Elegy of the Spanish Republic (having seen one previously at MOMA). I thought a LOT about this work when looking at Goya. I saw Goya pieces that I finally enjoyed. These were sketches and not hired royal paintings with no inspiration.
There were some Rauschenberg’s… I love Rauschenberg.. seriously.
The larger painting at Reina.
Unlike Aneel, I like a lot of abstract expressionism. But… all the ones that struck me at a gut level were ones I already knew. There was some really striking photography from the special exhibit. I can’t find examples now, but I’ll work on that. The end of this special exhibit were rooms about José Val del Omar. I look foward to reading and watching more about his work. “To breathe is to burn.”
José Val del Omar. “Aguaespejo granadino” 1953-55.
But… I just didn’t enjoy it overall very much, and after this exhibit, I was pretty done. The only two other highlights for me were….
Picasso’s “Guernica.” I don’t like Picasso. I don’t get him. It doesn’t touch me, emotionally or intellectually. But I get this. I don’t love it. But I’m touched by it. The desperation. The politics. The history of the piece. It was impressive.
This is it, although it doesn’t quite translate in a picture–the whole thing is rooms and rooms of architecture. It was a breath of fresh air and light and happiness and simplicity after the war and death and heavy thought. This museum description explains, “Her sculptures integrate with the architecture of the places they occupy, and thus play with the interweaving of reality and appearances. Her artworks generate suggestive fictional worlds and set aside all utilitarian purposes, to become settings conducive to reflective observation. Intersections between the natural world and the cultural world are frequently seen in her work, with shadows, cascades, whirlpools and foliage, in which the idea of refuge is a recurring metaphor.”
I pretty much poked Aneel into leaving at this point because I was hungry and done. We left and, after a failed attempt to go to a delicious vegetarian buffet, ended up at a Gallegan restaurant. The highlight was when a waitress stood and ladled firey liquid again and again as a recorded chant played. Odd. Neat. Odd. We started with cheese and bread, I had fish stuffed with shellfish and cheese in a tomato sauce, Aneel had fish and potatoes.
After resting for a bit, we went to see the National Dance Company at the Teatro Real. It was… stunning. I should add more about the pieces, but the highlights were the off beat modern ballet in act two and the overwhelming talent of Lucía Lacarra in the white swan piece.
Adding to that, we watched the ballet along with Queen Sofia of Spain who we applauded upon entrance and exit. We had no idea who she was until after, but it was exciting. I take it to mean that I have excellent, princess-like taste. We grabbed a few bites from the Mercado de San Miguel for a small dinner.
It was a lovely day.
I recommend the Teatro Real, the National Dance Company, and perhaps the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía but only if you’re either a huge contemporary art, particularly Spanish contemporary art, fan or you have a lot of time.