Monday, August 29, 2011

Art Museums

Writing about that trip we took to Europe last year, I was reminded that when we were in Madrid we visited two world class art museums. (Did not visit any museums in Ireland, but Ireland came out way ahead on pubs over Spain.) The first was of course The Prado, Museo de Prado, one of the greatest art museums in the world. Going to The Prado was my only must-do thing on the whole trip. I've wanted to go there for years. It was fabulous. The paintings of Goya alone are worth the trip. Throw in Velazquez, Titian, and Bosch and you are into major overkill. The other museum, which was devoted primarily to Spanish artists, was the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, which has only 20th century art inside. It is a relatively new museum; it just opened in 1992.

OK, I'll be right up front here. I love modern art. Places like these art museums draw me in because such places, chock full of celebrated art, pulls me into a world that seems much more human and empathetic than the very real world in which it was created and in which it now stands long after its creator has passed into a world beyond this one. It's almost as if great art lifts you out of the so-called "real world" and shows you another one, the real "real world". Perhaps that's what draws us to it.

Take this wonderful interplay of shapes and colors in this Joan Miro work from 1938, for example. This piece is in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the Queen Sofia Museum. I'm not certain how many by Miro the museum holds. For some reason, I did not purchase the museum book that you can always find in the gift shop. Maybe that was a low euro day, because I usually make a point of buying the book. This one is called Retrato II.

Looking up the piece above to show you whetted my appetite for some more. So I went and checked on the Miro pieces Susan and I have seen in other places. We saw this one spring last year in the MOMA. It's called A Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers. This is actually a drawing in goache and charcoal on paper from the early World War II years.

Joan Miro, goache & charcoal on paper, 1941

It's difficult to stop once you get started trying chasing these things down these things down. Here's another Miro we saw at the MOMA. This is The Birth of the World

Joan Miro, oil on canvas, 1925
I would not pretend to say anything about these pieces other than they spur in me a welter of thoughts about the nature of human beings, our understanding of beauty and truth and the world around us. And they stir in me feelings that I can get only in the presence of great art . . . the kind of feelings you can't hang words on.

To my delight I found a short little YouTube video that lets you look at a bunch more of Miro's works. So if you have not had enough to this point, there's more. And of course, if you have had enough, it's likely you never read down this far anyway. After fiddling awhile with it, I could not get the video to embed in this write-up. But if you want to watch it, you can find it here. Enjoy!
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