Tag Archive: Museums



Last of the big 3 in Madrid: Prado, Reina Sofia and now Thyssen-Bornemizsa. There are varied opinions on which is the best. I observed the older ones prefer the more academic, traditional, classical Renaissance art while the younger generation prefer the more modern, contemporary art. In Thyssen-Bornemizsa, one gets a good blend of both. I saved it for last for this reason, and because I thought my energy level would have dwindled by the nth museum and Thyssen has a very good, decent cafe where I can chill.

On a freezing afternoon, it was the perfect thing to do. No way you’d find us in some park or strolling the streets of Madrid. There were even days it slightly snowed in Madrid and the breeze just give our bones the chill. So another museum visit won’t hurt. Besides, my nieta just couldn’t have enough of it. (There’s another small, even obscure museo she wants to visit which I haven’t in the many trips I’ve made to Madrid. Well, we’ll see. )

Thankfully, there were no lines. No crowd. Most everyone must be chillin’ on bed. Hmm, the mere thought makes me want to go under a warm blanket, in a heated room. That should be comforting. Anyway, there’s this business of viewing the TB collection. And this, I must say. Thyssen I find as the most visitor-friendly museum here. Well-curated, with long benches to sit on in nearly every hall. I also think it’s difficult to “lose” someone here because the visit is so guided that one goes from hall to hall in a very orderly manner. Many times, I sat it out while nieta moved from here to there. When it was time to meet up, it was easy to find each other.

What I love about museum visits is that no matter how many times you go, you’d always find something new. Not exactly a new artwork, but more of how an old, even familiar piece can affect you. Is it one’s mood at that moment? Have we “changed” without us noticing it? Hard to explain. But there were art pieces there I found truly interesting after some visits.

As for my nieta, she was happy she can take photographs unlike in Prado. In Reina Sofia, photography is allowed but not for Picasso’s Guernika and some other major pieces. She wants to look them up more intimately and perhaps, even reproduce them. Picasso did the same. So did many others. So, why not?


I’ve always known there would be many museums to visit with my nieta. But more visits to one museum? It happened. She asked to go back to Museo Reina Sofia. She felt the same way with Pompidou Center but our time in Paris was limited. Not so in Madrid. There was time.

I could feel the excitement within the glass elevator we took to start from the upper levels and taking our sweet time down to the lower levels. She grabbed a map of the museum while I paid for the audio guides. She lingered longer over the Dali pieces. My fav too but I prefer the more sober Dali artworks. My nieta likes the ones bordering on surrealism. And there’s Miró, Magritte, Picasso, and 2 new favorites : Angeles Santos, whose Un Mundo she painted when she was only 18! And Juan Gris.

Apo (grandchild) was in Cloud 9. She had 4 hours to spend. That was the first thing she checked : closing time. It is a pattern: 4 hours in each museum. I should remember to wear more comfortable shoes next time. The lovely thing about Museo Reina Sofia is that she can take photos of many art pieces except for the obra maestras like Guernika by Picasso and some other celebrated works of the same artist and Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. Truly, Spain reigned supreme in both Rennaissance and contemporary art.

Out in the streets of Madrid, she follows my lead as we navigated from Sol to Calle Mayor to Gran Via. Here within the Museo, she took the lead and shepherded me from hall to hall, and then back to the same halls where she found her favorites. She appreciated how her idols’ art evolved in style, approach and boldness in both message, form and hues. She fell in love with Dali’s works without loving the artist’s character. 🙄 Well…. Dali is Dali with all his eccentricities.

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By the time she was ready to turn in her audio guide, she shifted her interest to the museum’s tienda. She can’t leave without buying a Dali book and more souvenirs. Another happy day for mi nieta. 💕💕💕

Museu Picasso (Barcelona)


We didn’t even have to discuss it. But the lines, the crowds, the noise, got to us. Gaudi had many fans, judging by the crowd that stood in line for Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, La Pedrera and Casa Batllo. There was an area in Parc Güell where we nearly had the spot all to ourselves. But not for long. As for the rest of Gaudi’s masterpieces, one simply co-exists with the rest of adoring fans. My nieta and I wanted some quiet time. Ciutat Vella is charming but the La Rambla y Barri Gotic areas are littered with camera-toting humans. A few more meters away and we settled in La Ribera. Still teeming with a vibrant vibe, but less touristy. We liked it better here, including El Born area.

My nieta had Museu Picasso in her bucket list but we failed to buy tickets online. We missed the one in Paris so we just had to check this one out. The line for the museum was tolerable, thank God. Housed in 5 of La Ribera’s centuries-old medieval palaces, we were eager to get in and view Picasso’s earlier works. I have to confess I enjoyed the collection better in San Francisco’s MOMA, but I guess we needed to understand that the collection should be appreciated from another perspective. As I said, these are the master’s earlier works and one traces how his art evolved from the traditional and academic to modernist and contemporary. Imagine his works at age 14. So young, yet his brush strokes spoke of his genius and artistry.

Although born in Malaga, Picasso chose to have this museum in Barcelona presumably because he likely feels more connected to this Catalan city. His good friend Jaume Sabartés had quite an extensive collection of his paintings, prints and drawings but Picasso himself added, albeit donated, much of the museum’s extensive collection. More donations were acquired — from Picasso’s widow, friends, other art collectors and various art galleries. Although the major works on exhibit included early Picasso works like the First Communion and Science and Charity, I am more intrigued by the artist’s portraits of himself and beloved father as well as his 58 “versions” of Velasquez’ Las Meninas.

I am a big fan of Diego Velasquez. His Las Meninas is prominently displayed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Pablo Picasso must be a big fan too. But why the 58 versions? What was he thinking? He donated his “recreation” of this major artwork when his good friend Sabartes died in 1968. And this is a quote from Picasso himself:

If someone wants to copy Las Meninas, entirely in good faith, for example, upon reaching a certain point and if that one was me, I would say..what if you put them a little more to the right or left? I’ll try to do it my way, forgetting about Velázquez. The test would surely bring me to modify or change the light because of having changed the position of a character. So, little by little, that would be a detestable Meninas for a traditional painter, but would be my Meninas.

— Picasso

Frankly, I still don’t get it. I mean, 58 versions kind of smack of an obsession, IMHO. The pieces jump out in vivid colors, unlike the original piece. But Picasso surely made them “his own” in that “distorted, cubist style” so prevalent in his art. Quite prolific, this artist. Well, he did live to a ripe, full age with not an ounce of passion lost through his many (20,000!) works in an astonishing range of style. Maybe it pays to keep inspired? For sure, he had several muses but I’m not going into that. 🙄

Indeed, Pablo Picasso is one significant artist of the 20th century. He started off being trained by his own father, copying many major artworks, and later inventing and reinventing his art. The world became better. He left us with many creations. As well as notable quotes. Quite a man, this Picasso!

“The very act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” – Pablo Picasso

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It was her first time in Paris. My nieta is traveling with me to Europe and Paris is at the top of her list. For many many reasons. The iconic Tour Eiffel, Sainte-Chapelle, the Louvre, Montmartre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Champ Elysees, Madeleine, Pompidou Center, Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, to name a few. And of course, there’s Versailles. I wanted to also bring her to Claude Monet’s Home and Gardens in Giverny but the impressionist painter’s estate is closed for the winter. Boooo! 😩

A quick sketch, but many short brush strokes on a really tiny piece of paper the size of a postcard. This art work is her first expression so soon after landing here. So little time in Paris, but we made do.

The very grand, iconic Louvre Museum impressed her so that she kept going back to the same art pieces across the huge museum. I settled on a bench by the staircase and let her shuttle here and there for the 4 hours we stayed! From Louvre, we went to another museé – the Centre Georges Pompidou. Here is a collection of many of the world’s best modern and contemporary art works and nieta is deliriously happy. Dalí, Matisse, Basquiat, Mondrian, Raysse and a few more.

Basquiat

Mercifully, the line was very short in Centre Pompidou towards early evening and the museum closed real late for nieta to do an unrushed, leisurely review. More than that, her youthful “face value” earned her free admission (under 26, student) even if we didn’t present any document like her passport. The young man at the counter who asked how old she is simply said “I believe you”. Then he looked at her abuela, and charged me 14 euros. 👵👵👵 Rounding up the works of Jean Michel Basquiat, she recalled the portrait she painted of this free spirit whose works she found again when we visited Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. This young lady is in Cloud 9!

She’s been using the ink and watercolor she brought for this trip. But a day before Christmas, she bought art materials and a sketchpad so I bet she’d keep herself busy the next few days. More so, after a trip to Barcelona where we’d stay in a hotel a short distance from Picasso Museum. That, and all that Gaudi and Miro madness. I can’t wait. Too bad there’s no time to visit Dali’s Museum outside of the ciudad. Meanwhile, she’s done a few more art pieces. Taking inspiration from the gardens of Chateau de Versailles, she painted away. (But not happy with her Versailles work). Unable to forget the taste of the best tarta de quezo from San Sebastian, she painted the facade of La Viña. (We made 3 trips here — those cheese cakes are to die for!). And then some more. My young artist has never had formal art lessons but she’s been painting from the heart. I sense her art is still evolving and an artist-friend suggested to let it evolve without any “influence” from art mentors. The way it’s going, I am truly amused that she’s been experimenting with different medium and stoking her passion with stuff that interests her. Like dogs. (She loves painting those furry balls!) Portraits of celebrities. A germ, a seed of something that tugged in her heart of hearts. An experience she recalls. Really, I can hardly wait.

A Day At The Museum(s)


The Louvre. Our young artist can’t miss this. Both the Louvre and the Pompidou Center. It’s been on her list, but I made sure she likewise didn’t miss Sainte-Chapelle, which is a good walk from our Paris crib. I guessed right. She swooned over this royal chapel’s stained glass windows. Her keen interest showed when she grabbed some literature and started reading on the Biblical stories expressed in the lovely stained glass collection. In her words, “if I have any expectation of how heaven looks, it’s this”.

From Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame, we went to Louvre where we spent the next 4 hours. Yes, 4 hours! After 2.5 hours, I found a stone bench by the staircase where apo left me to see her Mona Lisa a 2nd time. Then, a 3rd time. Moving from one hall to the next, negotiating the staircases and standing most of the time took its toll on poor moí. But not this young lady who had so much energy she even retraced her steps to view her “favorites” a second time before it was time for us to leave.

Too tired to step out for lunch, we settled for our quiche, ham and salad lunch in the Carrousel du Louvre. It was definitely NOT our best meal but it’s 4pm and we’re hungry. We also paid too much for a mediocre meal. Without going out of the Louvre complex, we then took the metro towards Center Pompidou. Oh, we did search for Jef Aérosol’s Chut — that famous, iconic street art mural near the Center. A few minutes of appreciation and we were in line to enter Center Pompidou. The young lady with me was dripping with excitement.

Going up to the 5th floor to view the Center’s Modern Art collections, we stepped out to a balcony pathway where Tour Eiffel stood in full view, illuminated. Good view but if you have altitude issues, it’s not a brilliant (pun intended) idea. But Matisse was waiting for my young artist. And Picasso. And Joan Miro. Dali. Basquiat. Warhol. Clearly, she prefers modern art more than the classics. Excited to see their works after reading up on them, she swooned and said “this is the best place ever”. How can I argue with that? Clearly, she finds modern & contemporary art more exciting. She does count many favorites though among the classics.

Once more, I settled on a (more comfortable) chair here while she happily bounced between and among the collections. She likes Matisse but found a new favorite. Jean Michel Basquiat. Yup, that’s Andy Warhol’s good friend and Madonna’s ex who died of heroin overdose in 1988 at the young age of 27 when both were at the cusp of growing fame. The relationship ended badly, where Basquiat demanded the return of all the paintings he gave Madonna and painted them all black. A pity because one of his art pieces fetched £85.4 million 29 years since his death — the highest-ever paid in an auction for an American work. Below is his work, and the Basquiat portrait was done by my young artist. So with the last 2 artworks shown here.

Four hours in Louvre. Another four in Center Pompidou. Now, I can imagine how she’d react when I bring her to Madrid’s Museo de Reina Sofia, or to Barcelona to view Gaudi’s works. You know what? I’m getting excited myself!

(More works done by “apo” below)


How best to spend €3? Buy a ticket to the Museo Sorolla!

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This is the house where the great Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla lived with his lovely wife and muse Clotilde. This is where he painted in his spacious, lovely studio. Imagine the great painter here with his wife and 3 lovely children. And the gardens!

 

 

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Joaquin and Clotilde make for a truly handsome couple. Judging by their portraits, they seem to be so much in love! There is a sala exclusively for Clotilde. The Spanish Master was truly inspired to paint this lovely sitter! And their children….. my favorite is Sorolla’s painting of Clotilde and the baby. So much love and warmth there. . . . . in an expanse of white blanket!

 

 

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Have you ever been to a house with so much good vibes? For a Spanish villa this size, it’s amazing how all those positive vibes of love and adoration seem to be in the air all throughout the Casa!

 

 

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If you’re planning to visit, bring a book to read in the lovely garden. It’s not big, but I absolutely enjoyed the villa’s tiny but well-appointed garden. Hard to believe it’s just off a busy street in the city. Come to think of it, you may enjoy the garden without even paying the €3. The admission fee is for viewing the artworks inside the lovely villa. But please don’t scrimp on this one. When you come out of the villa after viewing Sorolla’s paintings and appreciating the beauty of his former art studio and residence, you’d actually be feeling good. There is something so “positive” inside that house that is worth more than the measly fee you paid.

 

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