Carol and I had just one full day in Madrid before she flew home. We
made the most of it.
We visited three museums:
- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (We opted just for the temporary Matisse
exhibit; all these museums cost a pretty penny. It was filled with
reclining women, colorful rooms with windows open to the sea, flowers
in vases, violin cases. I liked the sculptures best, human forms with
bent knees and arms in tense positions. I felt like there was energy;
the paintings just made his subjects look like bored, complacent
women. Carol, kinder and more generous than me, said she thought they
looked as though they were on vacation.)
- Museo Nacional del Prado, a never-ending series of rooms that
reminded me of D.C.'s National Gallery of Art (Rick Steves claims it's
the best art museum in Europe; perhaps in volume, but not in my
delight... I'll take a hall of Miro or Picasso works over a football
field of stuffy oil portraits and lurking angels every time.) The
section of Goya's Black Paintings was horrific, draining, distressing.
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - the city's modern art
museum, aka the first place I'm running to next time I'm in Madrid. It
includes Picasso's famous "Guernica," an immense black/white/gray
painting depicting the horror of Franco's attack on the city of
Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Plus, a respectable amount of
Picasso and Miro, hurray!
I didn't expect this trip to be so arty.
But I love that it has been.
I've never paid for an audioguide before, but a good one, it turns
out, transforms your entire experience. You learn the story of the
artist, the shape of his career and the meanings of his major works. I
started to finally notice themes, patterns. Knowing what was going on
in an artist's personal life and in history helped make sense of the
The context made the art stick.
I am now smitten with Juan Miro. When I saw one of his sculptures in
the garden in Madrid's Reina Sofia, I ran to it, knowing before I read
any plaque that it was his and, more specifically, that it was his
Moon Bird. It was like seeing a cherished friend unexpectedly.
I've never felt like this about art before.