Madrid Offers Up Great Summer Art Season

Madrid
Dalí, El gran masturbador, 1929 © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, VEGAP, Madrid, 2013

Madrid is one of the best destinations in the world for art, and this summer its many museums and galleries are putting on an impressive array of temporary exhibitions.

The blockbuster of the season is at the Reina Sofia, which is having a major exhibition on Salvador Dalí. “All of the poetic suggestions and all of the plastic possibilities” brings together almost 200 works here by the famous odd man of surrealism.

Organized in roughly chronological order, the earliest paintings in the exhibition date to the mid-’20s and show a surprisingly traditional technique. Once he’d mastered the basics, however, Dalí soon plunged into his own unmistakable style. The exhibition is accompanied by detailed texts on Dalí’s life and career. For example, we learn the reason why we keep seeing the same set of cliffs in Dalí’s work. In his youth Dalí and his family would vacation at the seaside town of Cadaqués, where he became obsessed with the cliffs of Cape Creus. He once said, “I am convinced I am Cape Creus itself. I am inseparable from this sky, from this sea, from these rocks.”

%Slideshow-2876%Many of his best-known works are here, as well as early sketches and little gems, like a painting of Hitler masturbating. Who but Dalí could pull that off? (Pun intended.) Numerous video screens shows Dalí’s many film experiments, including the famous “Un Chien Andalou” with Luis Buñuel and several other lesser-known films. The show runs until September 2.

The Reina Sofia has two other exhibitions. “1961: Founding the Expanded Arts” looks at a vital year in the history of modern art that saw the expansion of artistic collaborations and music experimentation and the launch of Concept Art. It runs until October 28. At the museum’s annex at Retiro park is “Cildo Meireles,” which looks at the acclaimed Brazilian conceptual artist’s work and runs until September 29.

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza has a major exhibition on Camille Pissarro. This cofounder of Impressionism was the only one to take part in all eight Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886. The museum brings together more than 70 of his works, mostly the lush landscapes for which he was known. The show runs until September 15.

El Prado also has three temporary exhibitions. The headliner is “Captive Beauty: Fra Angelo to Fortuny.” This exhibition brings together almost 300 works characterized by their small size and technical excellence. The point is to demonstrate the ability of some of Europe’s greatest artists to create beauty in a confined space and to highlight works that are often missed hanging next to giant, better-known works. They are arranged chronologically from the 14th to 19th centuries. The show runs until November 10.

Another of El Prado’s exhibitions examines the relationship between two 18th-century artists, Anton Raphael Mengs and José Nicolás de Azara. The two painters traded ideas and collaborated on projects throughout their careers. “Mengs and Azara: Portrait of a Friendship” runs until October 13. “Japanese Prints,” which runs until October 6, showcases items from the museum’s collection from the 17th to 19th centuries.

This year Spain and Japan are celebrating 400 years of friendly relations. In 1613, a group of Japanese emissaries set out to visit Spain. They crossed the Pacific, passed through the Spanish colony of Mexico, and then crossed the Atlantic. After touring Spain they continued on to visit the Pope in Rome before heading back home. The whole trip took seven years. We talk a lot about adventure travel here on Gadling, but nothing in the modern day can measure up to what these early travelers did.

To honor the anniversary, the Museum of Decorative Arts is hosting “Namban,” a fascinating look at the artistic influence these two distant cultures had on one another. One interesting object is a large screen in the Japanese style, yet bearing a Spanish colonial painting of Mexico City. There is as yet no closing date for this exhibition.

If you hurry you can still catch a free exhibition of the work of Swiss surrealist Alberto Giacometti at the Fundación Mapfre. The exhibition includes numerous examples of his famous statues of elongated human figures as well as his lesser-known paintings. This exhibition runs until August 4.

We’re suffering sweltering temperatures here in Madrid right now, so beat the heat and go see some art!

London’s Courtauld Gallery Shows Off German Miniature Bibles

London
The Courtauld Gallery in London has opened a new exhibition of two of the smallest Bibles you’ll ever see.

“Dess Alten Testaments Mittler” and “Dess Neuen Testaments Mittler” are tiny illustrated Bibles produced by two sisters from Augsburg, Germany, in the late 17th century. It was a time of increased private devotion, when people looked for more from religion than the rituals in the church. Personal Bibles and images hung in the home became popular for those who could afford them and were used as the individual’s way to reach the Divine.

Tiny Bibles like these were generally for children, but the fine quality of the engravings on these examples hint that they were for adults. If you won’t make it to London this summer, you can turn the pages of one of the Bibles and admire the detailed yet miniscule artwork at this webpage.

The exhibit is part of the “Illuminating Objects” series, prepared by postgraduate students on their area of study. “Dess Alten Testaments Mittler: Dess Neuen Testaments Mittler” runs from May 1 to July 22.
London

Madrid’s Summer Art Season

Madrid, Piranesi
Madrid is one of the best destinations for art lovers, and this summer’s exhibition season is as great as usual.

From June 12-September 16, the Prado is showing “Late Raphael,” the first major survey exhibition on Raphael (1483-1520) to combine paintings and drawings in order to focus on the last seven years of the artist’s life, when he was at the peak of his ability. It also examines the work of his assistants and how Raphael influenced generations of artists.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza is having an unusual look at German art with “Faces and Hands: Ancient and Modern Germanic Painting.” It examines how portraiture changed from the Renaissance to Expressionism by looking at the work of such masters as Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann. The show runs until September 2.

The Reina Sofia covers modern art with three different exhibitions: the reworked political texts of Sharon Hayes, nature paintings and natural objects arranged by Rosemarie Trocke, and the experimental sculpture and photography of Nacho Criado. Hayes’ and Trocke’s shows are on until September 24. Criado’s show is on until October 1.

All three of these museums have large permanent collections that art lovers won’t want to miss.

Madrid is full of private galleries and large exhibition spaces run by banks. One of the best is CaixaForum Madrid, which is hosting a large collection of the 18th century architectural drawings of Piranesi. Piranesi traveled across Europe to record its Classical ruins and also invented his own fantasy buildings, like the one shown here in this Wikimedia Commons image. The show is on until September 9.

Centre Pompidou-Metz Recreates Artistic Life Of World War I

Centre Pompidou-Metz, World War OneIn the first of a series of events to commemorate the upcoming centennial of World War I, the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France is hosting “1917,” an exhibition of artistic life during that bloody conflict.

While millions were dying on the battlefield, the arts were flourishing in Europe. Much of it was centered on, or a reaction to, the most terrible war the world had yet seen. A large portion of the exhibit is devoted to trench art made by soldiers at the front line. Some drew sketches of their lives; others did creative things with the detritus of war, like the goblets made from artillery shells shown here.

Works from artists on the home front are exhibited too. The star attraction is Pablo Picasso’s largest work, the giant painted theater curtain he made for Parade, a ballet directed by Serge Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes. This impressive work is more than 30 feet long and is rarely displayed due to its size.

In all, “1917” gives us a snapshot into a crucial year in the development of modern art. The show runs until September 24.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Flying To Mars From New York City


The first astronauts are landing on Mars this week. . .at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.

Installation artist Tom Sachs is running his “SPACE PROGRAM: MARS,” a four-week spaceflight involving a crew of actors and elaborate sets made from common materials bought in a hardware store. The sets cover every detail of the mission including getting into space suits, provisions of food and launching Mars rovers.

There will be several liftoffs so visitors don’t miss one of the most popular parts of any space mission.

As this preview clip shows, Tom Sachs isn’t about to put NASA out of business. I kind of like the hokeyness of the whole thing, though. It gives the exhibition a childlike feel that brings back all those fond ’80s memories of watching the Space Shuttle missions. Tom Sachs has tapped into the fact that we all got inspired by space when we were kids, and many of us still look to the stars and planets with a childlike sense of wonder.

Tom Sachs’ “SPACE PROGRAM: MARS” runs from May 16 to June 17.