The Art and the Art Museums of Madrid, Spain



The Arts




Madrid has some of the best art museums in the world. My favorites include:

Museo Nacional del Prado, Paseo del Prado: This is one of the world’s best art museums. It is huge so pace yourself!! They have a café and restaurant where you can take a break. You will see works by Fra Angelico, Bosch, Brueghel, Durer, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Rubens, Poussin, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Sorolla and many works by Goya, El Greco and Velazquez. Velasquez’s famous Las Meninas was particularly interesting to me since I saw 40+ of Picasso’s re-imagined Las Meninas at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona that were really colorful and outstanding.

The Prado has formed a partnership with the Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia. The Hermitage sends works to Madrid, while Hermitage in return is able to have pieces from the Prado. I was thrilled to be able to see these works in Madrid as this museum is high on my list. I particularly liked seeing works by Monet, Renoir, Picasso and Matisse.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: When I was there last time I left thinking it was one of the best art experiences I had had, for the reason that you can start at the beginning of art and see an overview progressing through time. You start with Italian primitives, then go through Gothic and Dutch, Renaissance and Classicism then go through Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Romanticism and art of the 19th and 20th centuries including impressionism and post impressionism up through Pop Art. There are sections for North American Art, German Expressionism and Fauvism also. There is the permanent collection and now also the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemiza Collection which follows somewhat of the same format and includes works by Degas, Gauguin and Sisely. I would follow the same logic here and start from the earliest galleries working to the newest.

I was pleased to also see a temporary exhibition on the female Impressionist Berthe Morisot with many of the works coming from the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris which is one of my favorites in that city.

I left again thinking it is still one of my favorite museums in any city!!

Museo Sorolla: This was my favorite new find in Madrid. I was recently introduced to Sorolla’s work. He is considered one of the most important Spanish painters of the early 20th century with works in collections in Spain, throughout Europe and the US including the Getty in Los Angeles. His wife left their home and studio to the government so you can walk through it pretty much the way it was when they lived there in the early 20th century before it opened in 1932. There are many of his works including his beach scenes which I enjoyed completely. I highly recommend going a little north to experience it for yourself.

Matadero Madrid: Located near the Legazpi Metro station at Paseo de la Chopera 14, this is a newer center for contemporary creation occupying a former municipal slaughterhouse. It is along the river in 148,000 sq. ft. old industrial buildings. They offer performing arts, design, music, dance, architecture, town planning, landscaping, fashion, literature, thought and cinema programs. I was able to see two somewhat interesting installations.

Caixa Forum Madrid, Paseo del Prado 36: I saw a similar institution in Barcelona. This is a social and cultural center owned by La Caixa Foundation. The center sponsors art exhibitions, guided visits, music, poetry, film, multimedia art, debates on current affairs, social events and educational workshops. I was able to see a Delacroix exhibition co-sponsored with the Louvre in Paris.

Palacio de Cristal: Located in Ritiro Park just east of the Prado, this is a great example of cast-iron and glass architecture. It is part of the Reina Sofia Museum of exhibition spaces. I did see an interesting installation which totally transformed the interior. The exhibition calendar is on the site.

Palacio Velazquez: Another attractive exhibition space under the Reina Sofia Museum, close to the Palacio de Cristal in Parque de Retiro. Check the website for the calendar. It is a great space and I enjoyed the current show.

Musee Reina Sofia: Located at Santa Isabel 52, this is a museum that opened 20 years ago and is considered one of the top contemporary art museums. This museum focuses on modern and contemporary art. The museum has a strong permanent collection including works by Picasso, Miro, Juan Gris, Dali and Antoni Tapies whose works I first saw in Barcelona at his museum there. It also offers temporary exhibitions as well as other programs. The highlight of the collection is Picasso’s most famous painting Guernica which he painted at the request of the Republican government for the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition. The work is a testimony and condemnation of the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica’s population by the Luftwaffe, who were allied to the rebels, and is considered a fundamental work of 20th Century art, remaining a universal symbol of the fight against oppression. There is a very modern restaurant and café in the new building across the courtyard.

Fundacion Juan March, Castello 77: Located in the Salamanca neighborhood, this is a private foundation in a modern building hosting temporary art exhibitions. You should check out the website for current exhibitions. I saw an interesting exhibit with art from Russia.