Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More amazing art in Madrid

Our day started out at the Reina Sofia museum, the national museum of twentieth century art, named after the present Queen of Spain. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Certainly the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's painting Guernica. The central building of the museum was once an 18th-century hospital. Extensive modern renovations and additions to the old building were made starting in 1980. It is built around a huge inviting green space that you can walk around, although it was a little cold for that today.

We left the museum in search of a late lunch, which we had at the Museo de Jamon, one of the essential places to visit in Madrid. The restaurant is lined with hams hanging from the ceiling. Lunch is very affordable with lots of ham type sandwiches being served. We opted for ham, eggs and chips. It was good but there was certainly a lot of it. With our beers they served mortadella on little buns and some kind of salami type sausage. Mine went untouched. Oh, for some fresh fish!

As we walked up the street we noticed a tall building with all kinds of plants and bushes growing out of the wall. It was quite magnificent. Then we noticed another museum, CaixaForum, which combined an old abandoned electrical station with new construction. It is one of the most visited museums in Madrid. What drew our attention was the exhibit Contemporary Cartographies. Drawing Thought. The show explored our systems of representation, physical, mental and emotional. With globalization and the internet knowledge is represented in different ways. For instance one map showed a person's life with life's moments portrayed in pictures but in poster form. Another huge wall map showed how Spain's financial crisis evolved with actual maps, newspaper clippings and pictures of events. It made the whole thing very understandable. There were several of these fiscal maps. Another showed the world's countries as squares based on the number of square kilometres of the country. Surrounding the collage of squares were the seas. Words really don't do these wonderful maps justice. In the bookshop they had a wonderful book called Graphic Information, which depicts maps similar to those we saw.

Our final stop was the The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. With over 1,600 paintings the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection was once the second largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection. A competition was held to house the museum in 1986 after Baron Thyssen, having tried to enlarge his Museum in Villa Favorita in Lugano, searched for a location in Europe. His wife, a former Miss Spain, influenced him to move his family's huge collection plus many pictures he acquired at the time of the depression in the United States to Spain. The unusual salmon pink tone of the walls in the museum was her choice. There were works of the early Flemish and Dutch painters like Jan Van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Holbein and many contemporary works. It was very interesting to see the area where a huge Titian is being restored. Sadly, due to the late hour and a full day we were flagging and had to return to the hotel.

This evening we found an Italian restaurant for a caprese pizza.The food in Madrid has been largely disappointing. Evening meals are expensive, and compared to Barcelona, poor value. Perhaps its because I'm a fish eater and Madrid is not the place to eat fish. In comparing Barcelona with Madrid, I find that Barcelona is much cleaner. At night the streets are filled with people having a good time, whereas here the streets are much quieter. Perhaps it is the time of year. We have noticed a lot of really down and out street people here, which we have not seen elsewhere.

Once again we are making our plans for our last full day in Madrid but they will be dependent on the weather.

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