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Madrid's must-see art exhibitions

Paintings, photography, sculpture... these are the art exhibitions you won't want to miss in Madrid's museums and galleries

Calling all lovers of painting, photography, sculpture, and art in general: this is your selection of art collections, exhibitions and shows on in Madrid's museums, galleries and cultural centres. Whether they're on for just a few weeks or you have months to check them out, don't miss these top art exhibitions in the city.

Pity and Terror: Picasso’s Path to 'Guernica'

This could well be the biggest exhibition of the year. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of 'Guernica', the Reina Sofía presents this exhibition that looks into Picasso's vision of modern warfare, whose objective was destruction of entire populations, and focuses on the imaginary roots of the imposing painting in works created after 1925, where you could already see scenes showing explicitly violent situations. Picasso took on this theme on various occasions and linked it directly and indirectly to sexuality. 'Pity and Terror...' poses a thorough analysis of what this painting represents: the interior of a room that collapses and breaks into a thousand pieces because of a bomb, and about the path it had to take artistically speaking in order to become the masterpiece it is.

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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía , Lavapiés Until Monday September 4 2017

American icons in the zombie state

This exhibition from Chicago-based Welsh artist Jon Langford features some 50 works on the theme of his love/hate relationship with what he calls zombie America, the America where he lives; the works criticise the rotten heart of American politics and economy, and extol the country's culture. The subtitle Lanford proposes for his exhibition also helps further define it: 'Songs and paintings from the New Dark Age, a celebration of culture under the threat of the New Philistines'. This is the second exhibition in Spain by Langford, giving you a new chance to submerge yourse in this world of damned musical heroes and intelligent and caustic reflections on the contradictions of American society, rampant capitalism, the death penalty, fame, success and failure.

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La Fiambrera , Malasaña Until Saturday June 3 2017

Francesca Woodman: Absence / Presence

The Bernal Espacio gallery hosts 30 images that revolve around absence and presence, taken by American artist Francesca Woodman (Denver 1958 – New York 1981), between 1972 and the year of her death. Despite the photographer's continued presence in her work, she always appears on the brink of disappearance. In her photos, her body dematerializes and melts into archaic and deteriorating scenes. It represents what is to come, what is or what will be. The body (the flesh) is not immutable, nor are the spaces or relationships that we generate. Through her work, Woodman claims the consciousness of the female body and the importance of representation.

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Galería Bernal Espacio , Barrio de las Letras Tuesday May 30 2017 - Wednesday May 31 2017
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Return to Beauty. Masterpieces of Italian art from between the wars

Following the Great War, and holding radical avant-gardism responsible for historical, moral and cultural disorder, the trend throughout nearly the whole of Europe was toward a return to order, going back to the security and serenity offered by classicism. De Chirico, Carrá, Morandi, Casorati, Donghi and more are artists who represent the standard of a large group of artists who immersed themselves in some of the memorable periods of their historical past to develop the theme of beauty as a central axis, together with other qualities that were needed and absent at the time, including balance, peace and eternity.

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Fundación Mapfre , Chueca Until Sunday June 4 2017

See you in hell

This is Ramón Maiden's first big exhibition in Spain, where we get to see a review of his work, his habitual themes and aesthetics. Under this somewhat troubling title you'll find baroque, romantic, modernist and art deco–style prints, over which the artist works with pen or Chinese ink to show us new readings, new reflections and new messages about subjects such as religion, morals and injustices. More than 40 pieces selected by the artist himself, many of them created specially for this exhibition. Maiden invites us to meet him in hell, an unsettling and crude place full of sins and extremes, where he seems to be as comfortable as a fish in water.

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La Fiambrera , Malasaña Until Saturday June 3 2017

Escher

Staircases that have no beginning and no end, impossible rooms, surreal perspectives... The dream universe created by Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher comes to madrid in one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year. Organised by the Arthemisia Group, headquartered in the Gaviria Palace, and The M.C. Escher Foundation, the show brings some 200 works to the Spanish capital, including the famous 'Hand with Reflecting Sphere', 'Relativity' and 'Belvedere'. Not only that, the exhibition is also accompanied by scientific experiments, games areas, and more educational resources to plung visitors further into the bewildering images and unique realities of this extraordinary artist.

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Palacio de Gaviria , Sol Until Sunday June 25 2017
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Lewis Baltz

This is the first exhibition in Spain of the work of American photographer Lewis Baltz and the first international retrospective of his photos since his death in 2014. Baltz's images reveal the suburbs that proliferate in the outskirts of cities, and the landscape as occupied territory. Not for nothing, the California artist belonged to the generation of the New Topographics, which questioned the idea of the landscape as a beautiful and existential, almost sacred, image, and instead showed it as factual, a reality that is nearly always the result of unfortunate acts of humans.

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Fundación Mapfre , Chueca Until Sunday June 4 2017

Women of the Congo

Barcelona photographer Isabel Muñoz, winner of the 2016 National Photography Award, presents the struggle of Congolese women against the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. For decades the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been involved in conflicts over the control, extraction and distribution of natural resources such as coltan, diamonds and oil. This exhibition is a series of portraits and testimonies of women from Bukavu, in the province of South Kivu, in east Africa. It aims to bring visibility to the plight of these women and the violence they suffer, while at the same time inviting viewers to reflect on the way the women act in the face of suffering, in many cases refusing to be victims and trying to find ways to survive with dignity.

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Museo Nacional de Antropología , Retiro Tuesday May 30 2017 - Sunday June 18 2017

Turkana. Un mundo que se agota

This exhibition travels to the heart of Africa, to the birthplace of humanity, to Kenya, from the solidarity project Cirugía en Turkana (Surgery in Turkana), which started in 2004 out of an initiative by a group of surgeons in the Ramón y Cajal hospital who set out for Lodwar, where the Turkana people live. This nomadic people have seen their way of life threatened by the devastating consequences of climate change and overexploitation of resources. Lake Turkana, a vital centre of the community, is in danger of drying up. This exhibition shows visitors their way of life, of thinking and feeling, and the strategies that could help them in an environment that is drying up.

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Museo Nacional de Antropología , Retiro Tuesday May 30 2017 - Sunday June 18 2017
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Arte y Cine. 120 años de intercambios

The La Caixa social programme, in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Française, brings to Madrid this exhibition that talks about the exchanges and mutual influences between cinema and the rest of the arts throughout history. Another aim is to show that cinema can be part of an exhibition as well. At last we can compare films on the walls of a museum like we compare works of art in other disciplines. In addition to showing the aesthetic benefit that all areas of art have got from cinema, especially as a promoter of the avant-gardes, this exhibition aims to illustrate cinema's continuing vitality during the most recent contemporary stage, which started in the 1980s and carries on to today.

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CaixaForum , Barrio de las Letras Until Sunday August 20 2017

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