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Essential museums, monuments, festivals, walks and tours in Madrid
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Dates on the crown of a palm tree, flames on harvested crops, orange trees... a walled sea, the beginnings of a paella. These are some of the images you'll see in 'El porqué de las naranjas', an exhibition of 19 photographs, by Spanish artist Ricardo Cases. In this series of snapshots, showing in the Plaza del Matadero, light and colour come first, but there's also humour and the illogical that sometimes dominate the landscape itself. Examples of Levantine idiosyncrasies captured by Cases's eye and camera.
Edvard Munch, Vassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Le Corbusier, Paul Klee, Francis Picabia and Andy Warhol are just some of the names that form part of this new collection showing at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. A hundred masterpieces from the Kunstmuseum Basel, home of one of the most important collections of contemporary art in Europe, make up this brilliant selection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and collages that tell of the transition from modern to contemporary art. It's a look at movements such as expressionism, cubism, purism, abstraction and pop art via the works of some of their illustrious creators.
If you haven't visited this spectacular exhibition, now's the time. Before it moves on in May, you have a cultural obligation to get to the Prado Museum for an up-close look at the scenes Goya painted of the Spanish capital when he got here, via his preparatory pieces for the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara. While it's true that the works aren't new to the Prado, the museum has restored, compiled and reorganised them to create a new exhibition with a fascinating result – very visual and with novel elements (we loved discovering film-maker Jean Renoir's vision of hunting, and strolling along listening to the classic soundtrack that accompanies it). As one critic put it, the show is 'a vindication of the power of the Prado and of Spanish painting'. What this art giant gives us are tapestries, painted over the course of two decades, which have become masterpieces by the genius from Aragon.
If you're a big fan of history and archaeology, you won't have to leave Madrid to feast your eyes on some new treasures, thanks to the CaixaForum hosting one of the biggest shows this season – all about ancient Egypt. The exhibition, which aims to immerse visitors in the symbolism of animals in the land of the Pharaohs, consists of 430 objects brought to Spain in collaboration with the Louvre (this is the second time the CaixaForum has worked with the Paris giant, after the Delacroix exhibition), among them a frog-shaped talisman and a monumental sculpture of the Luxor obelisk baboons. And since museum-goers these days (and especially kids, who will most certainly flock to the exhibition) are an audiovisual bunch, you'll love the video projections and 3D spaces that re-create the mummification process. Get in early, or expect long queues.
Chillida, Oteiza, Tàpies, Saura, Antonio López, Richter, Mapplethorpe and Twombly are some of the names included in the exhibition 'La Piel Translúcida' ('Translucent skin'), a careful selection of paintings, sculptures and photographs on display at CentroCentro. The 67 works form part of the Iberdrola private art collection, recently recognised by the Fundación ARCO in the Corporate Collection category. The exhibition includes Basque works of art from between the late-19th and early-20th centuries, and other post-Impressionist and avant-garde pieces, as well as some 30 works of international photography ranging from the 1970s to the present.
- CentroCentro Plaza de Cibeles, 1, 28014
- Sun May 3 - Sun Jun 7
Twelve African headrests of various shapes and sizes, all made of wood, are on display in the National Museum of Anthropology in 'Mil formas de sentar la cabeza' (which translates to 'A thousand ways to rest one's head'). Made in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and other countries in Central and Southern Africa, the pieces include those designed so those with high social standing within groups could rest their head heavy with headdresses and hairstyles while they slept. On some of the pieces you can still see traces of their use or symbolic motifs related to ancestors.
The Prado is known as always being connected with the canonical in terms of art, and the Reina Sofía for the very latest of the latest. 'The rediscovery of the experience of working photography; the emergence of a new constellation of photographic practices and groups linked to the new social movements; the emergence of self-managed projects for photography in pursuit of different forms of articulation with public policies in expansion; the discourse of the new social movements and the "urban spin" in social struggles.' Sound familiar? No, this isn't about the present day (or is it?), but about reinterpretations of the 1930s and the new documentary movement out of the 1970s. It's the description of the first big event of the Museum of Contemporary Art and we can't help but shudder when we read it. A must (even more so in such a politically charged year).