Tag Archives: Madrid

Old (and New) Masters

Since I continue to be under the weather and without any artistic spark, I’d like to share a few of the glorious paintings we saw at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid and at other museums. Guidebooks go on about the Prado, and the Bosch paintings aren’t to be missed, but unless you have a thing for large portraits featuring Habsburg chins or are in awe of the immense skills of Velazquez and Goya, your time is better spent elsewhere in Madrid. My recommendations are the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia.

The Thyssen is the more manageable for viewing in a single visit. The Reina Sofia is huge and its layout is confusing, but its curators have made great efforts to put the artists in the context of their times. For many of its artists, that’s between the great wars. They have included magazines, journals, posters, and movies made by the artists. Interestingly, their collection has a nice assortment of photographs by U.S. artists such as Helen Levitt. If it matters to you, the Thyssen has better bathrooms.

The masterpiece of the Reina Sofia is Picasso’s Guernica. Photos do not prepare you for its sheer size. The exhibit includes many of the preliminary sketches and layouts, and the website link will give you a deep dive into the piece.

While the Reina Sofia covers art from about 1881 to present times, the Thyssen represents a mostly a single collecting family’s taste from the 1400s to present times.

Most Christian religious art leaves me cold as it is often allegorical and designed to teach or pay homage to donors. Occasionally hints of everyday life slip in as artists use neighbors for models or depict local scenery. Those are the bits I look for. The Thyssen offers lots of that and a quick and dirty history of the development of Renaissance art.

I couldn’t resist the fresh colors and the lively infant in this piece from the 1480s. I don’t know about the old man on the left.

A typical profile of a young lady, but her clothes and hair are worthy of imitation. Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni
1489 – 1490 by Domenico Ghirlandaio (Florence)

Another portrait of a young man who seemingly inspired 80s rock star hair.

Here more realism is creeping into the portrait.

Jumping ahead a few centuries, a Degas that was one of my girlhood favorites.

It was a joy to meet a new to me Van Gogh.

I find this portrait creepy but effective in conveying the loucheness of post WWI Berlin. Portrait of Dr. Haustein 1928 by Christian Schad.

Sonia Delauney, Three Dresses. The closest I came to a quilt the entire trip.

These are mere hints of the Thyssen’s collection. Another day I may have chosen different works. The website has arranged the museum’s greatest hits thematically if you want a deeper dive.

Next week I hope to be recovered enough to attempt some artistic endeavors; if nothing else I have some quilting to do.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Exhibits

Glimpses of Spain

While I had intended to have a newly sewn lap quilt top to show you, the universe had other plans. A few days after my husband and I returned from Spain we both came down with something flu-like. It wasn’t Covid, if the multiple negative test results were to be believed. Instead, I’ll share what came to be my photo obsession of our trip – portals.

A passageway near our Madrid hotel. The gates are locked at 9 p.m. every night.

The magnificent Alhambra in Granada.
A drug store in Seville with the beautiful tile work the city is famous for. All drug stores seem to feature neon green crosses for easy identification.

The British Institute, a language school in Seville.

A glimpse into a residential courtyard in Seville.

Courtyard of a former textile factory in Barcelona, done in the Modernismo style by Josep Puig i Cadafalch (and that’s what Catalan looks like.) It’s now a cultural and social center, CaixaForum.

Any or all of these may inspire future art.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Project Ideas