Morocco to Madrid 24: Centro de Arte Reina Sofia & MuseoThyssen-Bornemisza

So, yes, we did two of Madrid’s “Big Three” galleries back to back.  In retrospect, good idea not to do one of these ones after the Prado yesterday because we would have been totally destroyed.

Instead, we are partially destroyed.

It’s funny, because I can go out and hike, climb, bike, exercise, do whatever for the majority of the day and feel pretty solid afterwards, but something about walking around huge galleries just drains me.  Maybe the combination of constant physical movement and intellectual engagement, I don’t know.  Either way, bagged.

Dali at the Reina Sofia.

We started the morning off at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (or Reina Sofia, for short), getting there at the opening time and seeing a very small group waiting for the museum to open.  Pretty sure, had we walked by the Prado, that is where the line was going to be, so the lack of crowd was a nice change.

The Reina Sofia deals with contemporary art and almost exclusively with Spanish creators.  The big draw is Picasso’s Guernica.  The story behind the piece is amazing, as Picasso was given by the Spanish government to create what they hoped would equate to a propaganda piece for the Paris Exposition.  Shortly after, Spain (still a dictatorship at the time) “commissioned” Hitler to bomb the town of Gernika in the Basque region.  Picasso was infuriated, so he created his vision of what the bombing must have seemed like to the people who died.  After the exposition was done, Guernica was actually moved to the MoMA in New York on Picasso’s request, to be kept until a real government was established in Spain.

No pictures allowed in the Guernica section of the museum, otherwise I’d be featuring it as the photo on the blog today.  It’s an absolutely disturbing piece, especially once you know the back story, and a definite “must-see” when you’re in Madrid.

The rest of the museum had some beautiful modern art as well, including several Dali pieces, the most… interesting of which is El Gran Masturbador, which is what it sounds like in the most Dali way possible.  Along with Guernica, a large section of the museum also dealt with the Spanish Civil war as a theme.  I also discovered a new artist named Joan Miro that I really enjoyed, and the museum had a temporary exhibit on Wilfredo Lam that featured a lot of Picassoesque work, but more disturbing.

I will say that the layout of the museum was tricky in parts, and some of the special exhibits on the fourth floor kind of fell apart because of it, but overall, a great museum to start the day.

On the museum square, we wandered to El Brillante, a well-known Madrid restauraunt that is well-known for its bocadillos calamar (Calamari Sandwiches).  Nothing spectacular – literally just fried calamari on a roll – but tasty enough to get us to the next museum.

Gaughin is one of the many artists
you’ll see at the Thyssen-Bornemisza.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza doesn’t have a theme, though it does try to theme its rooms according to type of artist, time period, etc.  I would say its theme is “We Have Everybody”.  If you don’t want to make the choice between the Reina Sofia and the Prado because one is contemporary and the other is classical, the Thyssen may actually be your best bet to see both.

Everybody is represented.  Dali, Picasso, Goya, El Greco, Kandinsky, Miro, Titian, Ruebens, Rembrant…  Those are just the ones I can name off the top of my head.  My favourite part today, though, was that they had a special Carvaggio exhibit, focusing on him and his followers, where they brought in a lot of his art from around the world.  Amazing display from one of my favourite classical artists.

The layout of the Thyssen is a bit more organic that either the Prado and the Sofia, and the variety of art means you don’t really get beaten down by certain genres.  I would say it was my favourite of the three museums.

And with that, we were beat and made our way back to the flat.  Napped, went out for some tapas and wine at Tinto y Tapas, an adorable restaurant not too far from the galleries. Then crashed.

Tomorrow, a bit more time in Madrid proper, starting with the palace!

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