Saturday, July 11, 2015

Barcelona museum crawl


Barcelona - detail - Medieval painting
Pause when agitated

Barcelona: 
Museums visited to date:


Museu d'Història de Barcelona (City History Museum):  Rome came alive when we explored the underground ruins of the medieval Roman city of Barcino upon, and around which, Barcelona of today is built.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalan):  I think more famous for the building than the art. On our first visit we viewed the medieval art. I came away impressed again by how much religion depends on its martyrs, real and imagined. Especially imagined. We went a second day to see the modern collection. Thanks to smart curation, it was good in spite of itself. The Spanish artists are placed in the larger context of the Paris art scene of the 1920s, thus adding significance to what is otherwise mostly B grade work.

Swami at Barcelona museum
Of course I don't mean you!

Miro Museu
:
  Prepare yourself for room after room of Miro recycling the same patterns in primary colors over and over again and again. Perhaps he knew and respected his limits? I do have a new appreciation for his sculpture and mixed-media collaborations and but, otherwise, we both came away with a diminished regard for his paintings.

The temporary exhibit of the work of Alfons Borrell was absurd. Oh, colorful enough, but really. Is the world is still dazzled by "modern artists" doing monochrome paintings?  In any case, the curation is a delightful example of how absurd and pompous art-speak can be.

Picasso Museum Wow. Okay. Yes. Picasso the man was a flaming sexist asshole, among the extreme but a man his time but, after visiting this museum, I have a much greater appreciation for his genius and artistic contributions. Most of the work here was donated by Picasso himself in collaboration with Jaime Sabartés, his lifelong friend and, in later years, administrator and secretary. It includes wonderful paintings from Picasso's teen years up through the Las Meninas series including the pigeon paintings, all done at blazing speed at the end of his life and never, otherwise, exhibited.

Until now I did not know that Picasso also considered himself a great writer and poet. Naturally, some agree and some do not. In his 2012 publication A Psychoanalytic Approach to Visual Artists, James W. Hamilton writes, 
"some of Picasso's prose reveals concerns with oral deprivation and immense cannibalistic rage towards the breast.." 
For the hell of it, I include some of Picasso's imagery below, all from "The burial of the Count of Orgaz and other poems", courtesy of Wikipedia:
"the smell of bread crusts marinating in urine"
"stripped of his pants eating his bag of fries of turd"
"the cardinal of cock and the archbishop of gash"

MACBA
(Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art):  Skateboard park on the outside, pretty cool art museum on the inside, plus it's only a street away from where we're staying in El Raval. This particular sculpture, depicting Spanish King Juan Carlos having sex with the late Bolivian activist Domitila Barrios de Chúngara and a dog, was one among many excellent on display.

Not Dressed for Conquering
by Austrian artist Ines Doujak
MACBA

This spring, the night before the exhibit was scheduled to open, the museum director announced he was cancelling the entire show because the artist would not remove this piece from it. A bitter protest followed resulting in the director's resignation and the dismissal of two museum curators. MACBA, definitely worth a visit.


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