Spanish Art Microcosm: from Goya to Guernica
It’s well worth staying on in Madrid a day or two longer just for the Prado, which is one of the most notable museums in the world. But genuine art fans don’t just come here to see the Spanish equivalent of the Louvre: The impressive palace of art has become the centerpiece of a veritable art district, which boasts other renowned museums, some ambitious cultural centers, exciting smaller galleries and buildings designed by contemporary star architects.
Famous, oppressive – and magnificent. To visit the Goya rooms of the Prado is to enter the world of one of the most astonishing and most important artists of all time. Francisco de Goya was considered the last of the Old Masters but at the same time the trailblazer for styles such as Expressionism and Surrealism, and has thus greatly influenced entire generations of artists. His 140 paintings exhibited here alone would establish the worldwide prestige of any museum. At Museo del Prado, they compete with numerous works of other artists, such as Bosch, Botticelli, Dürer, Rembrandt and Velázquez. The museum’s collection comprises altogether 5000 drawings, 3000 paintings and 2000 prints.
Prado: Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23, Tel.: +34-913 302 800. Open: Tue-Sun 9am-8pm (varies on some public holidays). Admission: €8 for the collection (reduced €4), extra for exhibitions. Tickets cost less if bought in advance. www.museodelprado.es
Museo Reina Sofía:
Museo Reina Sofía picks up where Prado leaves off – in the 20th century. Many world-famous works of the Spanish Avant-garde – Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró to name just three – are exhibited here. The best-known piece in the entire collection is probably Picasso’s monumental “Guernica,” a painting measuring almost 3.5 x 8 meters. Sketches, studies and drafts take the visitor through the various stages of the painting’s creation. The museum building – once a hospital – dates from the 18th century and has a new wing that was added a few years ago by star architect Jean Nouvel. Along with the Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Reina Sofiá forms an “art triangle” (triangulo del arte) set amid a host of neighboring museums, galleries and cultural centers.
Museo Reina Sofía: Calle Santa Isabel 52 (main building), Ronda de Atocha (new building), Parque de El Retiro (various buildings), Tel.: +34-917 741 000. Open, main building: Mon, Wed-Sat 10am-2:30pm, Sun 10am-2:30pm. Admission: €3 exhibitions, €6 collection and exhibitions (students, retirees and others entitled to concessions, free). www.museoreinasofia.es (English, Spanish)
Spectacular newcomer in the art district: CaixaForum stages fascinating exhibitions on architecture, photography and the fine arts, plus a full program of discussions, music events and workshops. The cultural center building designed by star architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron opened in 2008 – and already rates as an attraction in its own right.
One of the adjoining walls even serves as a vertical garden, which was created by botanist and horticultural artist Patrick Blanc with 15,000 plants of 250 different species.
CaixaForum: Paseo del Prado 36, +34-913 307 300. Open: daily 10am-8pm, 25.12., 1.-6.1. closed. Admission: free. http://obrasocial.lacaixa.es/nuestroscentros/caixaforummadrid/caixaforummadrid_es.html (Spanish)
Photos: Borgese/Gonzalez/laif (2), Joaquin Cortes y Roman Lores, Mauritius Images