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!

Museum Honors 75th Anniversary Of Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ With Special Exhibit


It’s Picasso’s most famous and discussed work. “Guernica” was the artist’s response to the Luftwaffe’s bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Some 1,654 civilians died. Nazi Germany was supporting General Francisco Franco and his Nationalists in their attempt to overthrow the Republican government, a fight he eventually won.

Now the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, which houses the work, is honoring its 75th anniversary with a new exhibition titled “Encounters with the 1930s.” This show examines the crucial decade through its art, looking at the various artistic movements and how they grappled with the increasingly polarized political landscape of Europe.

More than 400 exhibits are divided into six sections: realism; abstraction; international expositions; surrealism; photography, film and posters; and Spain: the Second Republic, the Civil War and exile. The museum is also hosting a film series titled “Cinema of the 1930s.”

This exhibition comes at a time when the old divisions from the Spanish Civil War are beginning to reemerge. This excellent article on the BBC goes into more detail.

“Encounters with the 1930s” runs from October 3-January 7, 2013.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Spain Raises Airport Taxes

Spain, Barajas
The government of Spain has announced that it is raising airport taxes.

The amount of the increase depends on the airport, with the average being 18.9 percent. Taxes at the two busiest airports, however, will more than double. Madrid’s Barajas airport will increase from 6.95 euros to 14.44 ($8.64 to $17.94). Barcelona’s El Prat airport will go from 6.12 euros to 13.44 ($7.60 to $16.70).

Ryanair and Vueling have already passed the extra fee onto their passengers. Other airlines have yet to decide how to respond. The tax is retrospective for those who booked before July 2, 2012, and are traveling from July 1 onwards.

Spain is one of the most troubled economies of the Eurozone. It has recently been granted up to 100 billion euros ($124 billion) in bailouts for its banks and the government is planning harsh austerity measures in order to balance the books. With summer tourist season kicking into high gear, the increased tax will bring in tens of millions in much-needed funds, assuming it doesn’t turn away too many tourists.

[Photo of Madrid’s Barajas airport courtesy Andres Rueda]

Two Overlooked Art Spaces in Madrid

MadridMadrid is famous for its art. The “Golden Triangle” of the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza attract millions of visitors a year.

But there are plenty more places to see art than those famous three. One of my favorites is the Conde Duque, an 18th century barracks that has been turned into an art and educational space. Behind an elaborate Baroque gate are three large courtyards. The high, thick walls muffle the sound of the busy city outside and a sense of calm reigns.

There are three major exhibition spaces, although all aren’t always showing something at the same time. Conde Duque has recently reopened after a major remodel. While it’s lost some of its decaying charm, the building seriously needed work because termites were eating away at the old beams.

Entrance to the exhibitions is free. Evening concerts of classical music are often held in the courtyards and these charge for tickets. This is a popular nightspot for madrileños so book well in advance.

Right across the street from Conde Duque is Blanca Berlin, one of the best photo galleries in Madrid. They have a constantly changing collection of photos for sale from established and up-and-coming photographers from all over the world. They also have a permanent stock of photos you can look through. Unlike some of the snootier galleries in Madrid, they don’t mind people coming in just to browse.

These two spots are at the edge of Malasaña, a barrio famous for its international restaurants, artsy shops and pulsing nightlife.

Still haven’t satisfied your art craving? Check out five more overlooked art museums in Madrid.

[Photo courtesy Luis García]

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.