Now this! This… is a museum I could spend some time in! The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía houses art from the 20th century up to current work being made today.
Here I saw Dali, Picasso’s Guernica (as mentioned in the previous post), more Goya, and I learned about a few new artists too. I even got to sit and watch Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou! Watch the full movie here. (A little over 21 minutes.)
You guys ever hear of this idea that every breath you take contains molecules from Napoleon’s dying gasp? I want you to sit in a soft chair, dim the lights and light a candle, put on some trip hop, have yourself a Long Island Iced Tea, and think about the implications of this. Ok now you are primed to share in the true meaning if this statement: I breathed on a Salvador Dali painting. I was so close to it that I breathed on it. (Not to mention every other piece I stopped in front of in the Prado and Reina Sofia.) My moist breath touched this painting and still lingers there. I am currently “with cold” so I’m pretty sure I gave the Dali painting a virus. I am a part of that painting now. Here’s a link to a physics website that actually works out the math on the molecules of, in this case, Caesar’s last breath. It’s absolutely mind blowing that the Spanish trust the general public getting that close to a painting.
I unapologetically like Dali. I’ve heard from several artist friends that he’s to much of a sellout and since he appeals to everyone he then appeals to no one. That makes him essentially the Kinkade of surrealism. I’ve always loved his paintings and his weird antics. I love that he had an Ocelot named Babou. (Any Archer fans here?) I also know that towards the end of his life he alledegly signed blank canvases and had other artists paint Dali-esque work on them. Screw all that. I love Dali.
Here’s a work of his that you may not have seen.
Salvador Dali, The Enigma of Hitler, 1939, Oil on canvas, 95 x 141 cm
I could take up a whole blog post talking about this piece since it’s so loaded with symbolism. On most of this stuff I’d be making guesses (educated ones, but guesses). I invite you to make guesses and come to your own conclusions. That phone hand piece… is very penisy. (Yes kids, that part of a telephone.) I kinda get that Hitler was a dick but I don’t quite follow the reason that the semen is dripping onto some bat vomit. Hitler’s picture looks like it’s surrounded by rice? Maggots? And it’s all in a dish. Are we supposed to consume this vile concoction? And the telephone hand piece is part ear and part… turned on? WHAT COULD THIS MEAN?! No really – what could this mean? GO! I love that his work is making my brain think in a new way. That’s why I like art from the 20th Century until now. Here’s more on this painting.
The next works that stopped me in my tracks were Goya’s Disasters of War etchings. I’ve seen these on the internet but up close you can see his tiny little lines intensely scratched into a metal plate to do honor to the deceased. The obsessive and meticulous work he put into these small prints gives insight into how much he cared about his subject.
To lighten to mood, at the end of a long hallway I found Man Ray’s Indestructible Object.
The giant metronome stood easily as tall as me and it actually works. More here.
Another painting that brought me joy follows:
Joan Miro, Head of a Smoker, 1925, Oil on canvas, 100 x 81 cm
I’d like to officially petition the museum to rename this piece, Exploding Chicken Butt.
This piece made me feel nice.
Josep de Togores, Couple on the beach, 1922, Oil on canvas, 89.5 x 116 cm.
See the look she’s giving him? We call that look “love bullets” in the Rischards household. And look at the way he tenderly toys with her hair. Awwwww! And the foreshortening in this piece is enough to strike terror into my students – past, present, and future! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!
Lastly, I was mesmerized by this painting.
Alfonso Ponce de Leon, Self Portrait, 1936.
The internet is not doing it justice. Internet reproductions don’t show you the wrinkle in the paper, the way the light shows the direction of the brush strokes, or the delicacy of a tiny mark. It takes away from the fact that you are in front of an object rather than staring at digital information in the form of LED lights. Books don’t quite do art pieces justice either. Go. See. Art. In person. OK, stepping off the soapbox and back onto the museum floor. As I was looking at the information plate I noticed something unusual. I beckoned the Spanish docent over and pointed to the date of his death. “Muerte?” I asked. “Si,” she replied, and then we had an animated exchange of hand gestures and spoke each other’s languages with the fervor and ability of 2 year olds. He painted a self portrait of himself hit by a car in 1936, and died at the age of 30 in 1936. It was a gunshot wound though. Still, I was fascintated by the work and the story that went with it. Learn more here.
I’ve skipped a day or two. I’m now north of Seville by about 40 minutes at A.I.R.gentum. I spent the day making art and friends. I’ll report on the residency soon! Thanks for reading!
Tu pan rasga el techo de mi sensible boca americana,
ps, Uh oh. Put the Spanish eagles on the endangered species list. (New readers: No idea what I’m talking about? Go here.)