Museo del Prado

Posted on April 20, 2016. Filed under: Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Prado is one of the world’s greatest art museums.  It is a main reason to visit Madrid.  It houses masterpieces by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch.  A great thing about the Prado is that it is free to enter after 6:00p.m.  Because it was just a few blocks from where we were staying, this meant we could visit several times.

There will be a long line forming around 5:30, but if you get there about 6:15 you almost waltz right in!  Then you can see everything without paying the approximately $20 entrance fee they charge during the day.  We didn’t find it excessively crowded when we went at night,  but it was October, which is considered to be the shoulder season, transitioning from high to low.

The bad thing about the Prado is that they don’t allow photography.  I know it is to protect the artwork because many people can’t figure out how to turn off their flash and millions of flashes at artwork does have a detrimental effect.  But it still annoys me.  So I did steal one shot…

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This spectacular Sorolla masterpiece.   And the guard in the next room heard my shutter release and came running after me.  Ah…the excitement of being a criminal on the run!  Ah to be yelled at in Spanish!  A shrug and, “Lo siento…” and I am forgiven if in a disgusted voice.

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Museo Sorolla, Madrid

Posted on March 3, 2015. Filed under: Art, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Sorollahouse2On our last full day in Madrid we hiked from our apartment near the Prado Museum to the Museo Sorolla.  It took awhile and we had to ask directions from a parking maid as we got closer.  She was amazingly helpful and friendly.  She spoke almost no English so we limped along in my rusty Spanish.  She pulled out extra paper from her little ticket machine, turned it over, and drew a map!  After that we got there with almost no trouble.  It’s tricky because the building is the former home and studio of 20th-century painter Joaquin Sorolla (1862-1923) and so it is located right in the middle of a block in a residential section of Madrid.

This, of course, makes it very interesting.  I always like to have a walk amid the places the real people of a place live.  This lovely old home/studio was designed to the artist’s specifications with a huge ceiling of skylights in the studio.  There is nothing, afterall, better than natural light for just about any kind of work, but especially for artwork.  This whole little jaunt was a serendipitous affair.  We saw Sorolla’s masterpiece of boys playing in the ocean surf at the Prado.  Then we discovered this museum existed here and we decided to go!  Often, these jaunts make for the best travel memories/experiences.

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It was wonderful to see so many of his works as well as the home in almost the same condition as when he lived here complete with Tiffany chandelier, sculpture and jars of his paintbrushes.  The property became a museum right after Sorolla’s widow’s death so it is very untouched.  And the tiny garden is as beautiful as the building itself.

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I was most fascinated by how he captured light and water in these paintings.  There is also a small alcove in the studio where lots and lots of tiny paintings are displayed.  I really wanted to come home and experiment with tiny paintings after seeing this.  It’s still on the list, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

 

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Art in Madrid’s Streets

Posted on February 17, 2015. Filed under: Art, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Yes, you are just walking along in Madrid and wham!  There happens to be some monumental piece of art right there.  Why not put an enormous lizard made out of CDs on the side of a building?  I wonder how they talked the people in those rooms to give up their windows.  Or why not install a bronze frog the size of a small house on the sidewalk? Madrid street art 2

Madrid street art 3Here we are on Calle del Arenal, a huge pedestrian corridor that hosts many live art performances.  Madrid loses its stuffy capital city ambiance when you walk the streets and observe the creativity that permeates this place.

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The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid

Posted on January 2, 2015. Filed under: Art, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza 1We didn’t know much about the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza before we got to Madrid.  We had no idea it is a private collection that was sold to Spain.  It’s quite a huge breadth of material, from very early medieval work like this famous Hans Holbein, the younger’s portrait of Henry VIII from 1543 to very modern work.  The beginning of the museum where there are many rooms of medieval work can make your eyes go buggy unless that is your thing, so we hurried through some of that.

We always play a game in art museums we call, “What I Would Take Home.”  My selection was the Degas pastel, “Race Horses in a Landscape,” from 1894.

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Vincent van Gogh, The Stevedores in Arles, 1888

Bill had a hard time as there were so many interesting artworks from which to choose.  The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is known as the museum which houses great paintings by lesser artists and lesser paintings by great artists.  We found this to be true as the Van Goghs and Monet were clearly not their best, but still very, very interesting to see.  These were, perhaps, experiments and you can still see the genius in such works, maybe more so because you haven’t seen images of these many times.

I was thrilled to see a few Georgia O’Keefe’s I’d never seen before.  I also got to see paintings by Magritte, de Kooning, Pollack, Mondrian, Hopper and the first time I’d ever seen a Clyfford Still.

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is definitely worth a visit!

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Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Posted on December 13, 2014. Filed under: Art, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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One reason we wanted to go to Madrid was for the outstanding art museums.  We started with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía,  an old hospital recycled as an art museum.  Just walking around the environment was very interesting; it’s hard to believe it was still in use in the 1960s as it seems very ancient.  This is where Picasso’s Guernica is housed.    They were deadly serious about not letting anyone take a picture of it as the no picture policy actually starts several rooms before the Guernica room.  Follow the link to see the image and learn about its history.  It is fascinating.  One has to see this iconic and world-famous painting in person to really appreciate it fully.  It really made an impact, I must say.  We had to wait for the Japanese tour bus to clear out as they monopolized the whole room for a time, but then we could get close and take it all in.  It is a painting which is difficult to view without emotion because it depicts the ravages of war in such an abstract way and in such an enormous size that it feels overwhelming.  One of the most interesting features of the room is along the back wall where there is a display of photos taken by Picasso’s girlfriend at the time he was painting it.  It shows his process, to a degree, as he changed his mind about several elements and it is fun to compare the photos to the finished painting.

This museum also houses some of the most famous Dali paintings, a beautiful courtyard with a Calder stabile and a covered atrium between the museum and library with the enormous Lichtenstein, “Brushstroke.”

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Towards the end of our visit we got a little tired and decided to “interact” with the art:

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Bill decided to get into “Shout No. 7” by Antonio Saura, and I liked the way my outfit complimented Jose Guerrero’s “Green Encounter.”

DSC06881Lastly we enjoyed the Richard Serra “Equal – Parallel:  Guernica – Bengazi” which are just huge hunks of iron so indestructible they don’t have guards anywhere near them!

What a great first day in Madrid!  Some tapas and beers were definitely in order after all this art fun.

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Tapas in Madrid

Posted on November 23, 2014. Filed under: Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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A real delight in Madrid is to drop into any bar and order a drink.  Before you know it a small plate of something gets delivered as well.  It is the little freebie each place sends you as a little thank you for stopping in and also maybe a little advertising of the food available on the menu.

DSC06896Some places offered just a few little bullet-shaped crackers and chorizo sausage slices.  This seemed the default tapa, offered when the good stuff wasn’t ready yet, or perhaps at the less food-oriented places.  Several places gave us this standard.  But many others had elaborate little plates with pasta and interesting sauces or baccalao salt cod deep fried and luscious or something with a variety of silky beans with toast.  We often handled lunch easily this way by hopping from bar to bar and sampling the tapa of the day at each.  One way I kept my head about me with the alcohol was to have the Spanish specialty of beer cut in half with lemonade.  I love this light, refreshing drink!

Madrid’s little tapas bars are just a delight.  The area right near the Prado, where we stayed, is full of fun and friendly little joints in which to poke around.  If you find yourself there make time for it.

 

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