They start them soooo young in Spain! This was a school group taken out for the day to the Prado - I'm guessing the kids were about 4 years old! So tiny. If we don't even try until they are in high school, how will our kids ever develop the same love of the arts?
Arrived via the very human sized airport at Marrakech, into the groovy designed one at Madrid. Good connections and a helpful cabbie had me in town in good time to walk the many narrow streets and explore the plazas, sit in the Plaza Santa Ana and enjoy some tapas before hitting the sack.
Over the next few days we took in most of the Prado Museum, The Chardin exhibition and Heironymous Bosch being the stand out for us as well as a happy visit to Velaquez’s “Las Meninas”. Again, racing past Rubens to see Tintorettos needs some rationalising, and in the end we did our tastes and the museum proud, being very disciplined in what we saw. I also saw most of the later art in the Thyssen Bournimisza Museum, a private collection made public which boasts an excellent Monet and Van Gogh, but mostly interesting because it presents some good works of a wealth of artists that may never make publication in art books. The German Expressionist Painters and the Fauves are very well represented, Pechstein being the rediscovery of a great artist, for me.
I also took two broken visits to see the art at the Reina Sofia, a truly magnificent building (being a former palace, as most of these museums are) with an outstanding modern extension which seems to house only the library and the café. I like their style! We spent some time in front of Guernica, which didn’t disappoint, as well as in the surrounding rooms which present studies and sketches and other related finished paintings and information. I then explored the rest of the museum, with Juan Gris being the re-discovered artist, as well as cementing my astonishment at Picasso’s output as well as versatility and willingness to experiment throughout his life.
The student protests, centred in Plaza del Sol, are growing at a great rate and I wonder whether Spain will be next in the revolution stakes. I think Daniel would fit in well here.
Other places of interest we visited were the Palacio Real, which for my mind, leaves Buckingham palace for dead in decoration, creativity, and sheer capriciousness –every room had a different theme, no “reserve” here – and its armaments collection. Never would I have imagined that Knights in armour could look so good, in delicately carved and well designed and engineered metal made by the best European craftsmen, Silversmiths etc of their time, from Italy and Germany. It would have been a truly awe-inspiring sight to be waving madly in a crowd, as those knights, astride their prancing, jangling horses, marched by. The horse armour was exceptionally sculptural and beautiful, and the lances unexpectedly long! Ouch!.
I also explored the Cathedral and the park Real, with the Crystal Palace floating near the duck pond, and saw an outstanding retrospective exhibition by Leon Golub in the beautiful palace building at the opposite end of the walkway.
We have still to find, great tapas mixed with great wine – local knowledge needed in this capital of Tapas.
If Madrid is about its art, it didn’t disappoint, although sometimes, too much art is just that. I need to rest my eyes…and some more modern art!