45 Minutes To See Prado

Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 01:38 PM
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I got curious and looked up Dukey's last trip report which mentions Amsterdam, but the trip report is unfinished -- so we'll have to await Dukey's answer about how he got to upstairs at the Rijksmuseum. It does now seem possible to me that the Phillips Wing has an upper floor -- but personally, I never spend more than 5 minutes in a museum. I just run through it so I have time to rush back outside and take more travel snaps.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 06:54 PM
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I think my last visit to Amsterdam was in 2006, and I saw the "Masterpieces" exhibition then. Actually I think I saw it twice that year.

The paintings were actually slightly different between the two exhibitions. On one or both of those occasions, I saw Vermeer's "Milkmaid," which was lent to the Met in NYC last year. So from this and from what I remember from my two visits, I know for sure that they do rotate the exhibits.

There was definitely a second floor, as I think "Nightwatch" had its own gallery on the second floor at that time. If I remember correctly, it was actually near the end of the exhibition.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 07:29 PM
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This is a wonderful forum that has helped so many people with their journeys, whatever their age or mental or physical challenges. It is not intended to be used to make personal attacks for no other purpose than expose one's mean-spirited nature.

It is great to have a difference of opinion, but it can be done with a certain amount of decorum and class. What's up with the mindlessly agressive attack? Truth to tell, my son, who is now fully grown and attending one of the great public universities in the United States, was not running around with constant shout-outs. I was simply using that description to create a picture of passion and interest in the mind of a child, in which I obviously failed and caused you great distress and consternation. Forgive me.

As some bright soul said, ignorance is the necessary condition of life itself. If we knew everything, we could not endure existence for a single hour. For that reason, I take your accusations of ignorance, poor education, and being too old to re-educate in the spirit in which it was unintended.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 08:12 PM
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And Surfergirl, I truly appreciate the suggestions you have provided as I look forward to the trip with my son!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 08:16 PM
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Here is an account from my last trip to Madrid.

For those unfamiliar with the Prado, it is in the top 5 general art museums. When we first visited the Prado in 1972 we were told the collection consisted of either Spanairds or artists from lands that were once under Spanish domain. Since they had Botticellis and Caravaggios, it raised some questions about the claim. But Franco had a moveable concept of the truth. Of course, he is dead for over thirty years and now they have a Tintoretto exhibition.

It is advertised as the first major exhibit of his work in 70 years. My sister-in-law, an accomplished artist, warned me that I would not regard Tintoretto highly. My SIL, did not mention that Titian did not regard Tintoretto highly either, something of a Mozart/Salieri dispute.

Tintoretto’s craftsmanship is nowhere as gifted as Titian and many of his works have figures that almost seem breathless. One of his grand works, Paradise, portrays heaven as very crowded. Personally when I get to heaven, I would like a little more space with some excellent light for reading.

The permanent collection includes Zubaran whose colors make his work appear three dimensional. Bosch’s Garden of Early Delights and Breughel’s Hay Wagon are almost hallucinogenic in their whimsy and imagination. But Velazquez and Goya are the stars of the Prado. To see how crazed Goya became one only need to compare the tranquility of hunting paintings to the insanity that is his Black Pictures. The Black pictures include a Colossus stealing humans and his famous Second Of May where faceless French soldiers are executing terrified Spaniards.

Velazquez’s Las Meninas, is considered one of art’s greatest works. It is exceptional combination of bent reality and reality. He portrays himself as painting the picture but he also simultaneously exiting. He is supposedly creating a portrait of the Infanta Margarita but she is facing away from the painter. And the walls are covered with paintings but they are too dark to discern their subject matter.
In another room is his depiction of Aesop. His world weariness is seen in his eyes, a covered hand, and his shoes. It is extraordinary.
One painting that caught my attention was the Ages and Death by Hans Balding Grien. (1484-1548). It depicts a woman in various stages of her life in very bleak terms. It is in sharp contrast to the other works in the museum.
Try going when it opens to avoid the tour buses and the scads of school children.

Reina Sofia

The Museum is across the street from the busy Atocha Station. The building looks like an amalgam of different uses with the elevators added on the outside while the inside varies from a now enclosed cloister to an office building.
There are two floors of permanent exhibits the 2nd and 4th and both are Spanishcentric. The 4th floor is filled with post war Spanish artists with a Motherwell or two thrown in. The second floor has the name brands-Picasso, Dali, Gris, Miro, occasionally interrupted by a Kandinsky, Magritte, or Tanguy. They do have an exceptional collection of photographs particularly Man Ray’s silver gelatins including those of his friends Bunuel, Dali, and Andre Breton. There are also ironic and dramatic photos of the Spanish Civil War some which were taken by Robert Capa.

The Dalis remind us that he was a brilliant, inventive craftsman who added thoughtful and quirky touches before his confused final years.
There are many Miro pieces from his twenties to his nineties. The later paintings demonstrate a simplicity toward his work,

The focal point of the museum is Guernica and its attendant studies. There is great controversy, even now, whether it should have been moved from an annex of the Prado. To me, this is a family fight. It remains one of the greatest pieces of art, an apologetic anti-war statement.

Other pieces I found interesting were:

Daniel Vazquez Diaz, La Fabrica Dormida (1925). It is at once both very industrial and dreamy.
Sculpture by Julio Lopez Hernandez, Pareja de Artesano (1965). It is older couple in front of a workbench filled with tools. It is made from wood, polyester, and slate powder, The details of the faces, clothes, and tools are captivating.
Eduardo Arroyo, Madrid-Paris-Madrid (1965). This is a two panel work which depicts the artist leaving Madrid as a clown returning to Madrid from Paris, as basically the same artist but personally more sophisticated. Very clever.
There were many students gesticulating in Spanish and French.


Thyssen
I went to the Thyssen Museum which is in a renovated palacio. The walls where the collection is hung are salmon colored (I guess they can turn into the world’s largest restaurant if things go bad.) The lighting is a combination of indirect natural lighting and electric. Those paintings that have glass have a glare. Although the collection is arranged chronologically, the works are laid out on both sides of a corridor with rooms off the corridor. You look like a drunk as you zig zag across the hall. I also lost track of what I saw in the rooms and did not see. The guards are always speaking in knots, so I think we can conspire to borrow a few paintings.

It is hard to believe that a family who started the collection in the 1920’s amassed so many pieces. They start in the 1300’s and proceed through the late 20th century. There are Dutch masters, impressionists, and a number of Americans including Sloan, Homer, and Copley. They seemed fond of the Hudson River School of art and befriended Lucian Freud.

Some of my favorites are:

Hugo Erfurth with Dog by Otto Dix (1913)
Carl Lee Schmidt by Oskar Kokoshka (1911)
Corner House by Ludwig Meidner (1913)
And the wittiness of Max Ernst

We can also blame Ferninad Bol for painting Young Man with Feather (1647)
It is probably the first known portrait of the idiotic pose that many writers are given to these days, with one finger across the chin and the rest of the fist supporting the chin.

There was also one called Reclining Nude Shepherdess by Berthe Morisot (1891). I may be wrong, but I think you see too many reclining naked shepherdesses.

I then went to Retiro Park. There was a classical orchestra rehearsing. They were playing familiar parts of famous pieces. I cannot remember all the names but you know the one that goes da-da-di-da. Well anyway. There was Pachelbel’s Canon, 1812 Overture, and Swan Lake. The played Swan Lake mighty fast and all I can think of is the dancers racing crazily around the stage.

I just ran down from the hotel room, it sounded like a parade or a fistfight outside. It was a sound truck blaring hip hop and Euro techno music. The DJ was speaking in English “Are you ready?”

I said no and returned to my room.



Rastro
I am standing next to a framed poster of a toilet system. Sunday morning at El Rastro, an outdoor flea market, finds possibly a thousand vendors, that weaves in and around an area near the Plaza Mayor. It is the grandeur of junk, an old fashioned diving bell helmet sits on the ground waiting to be purchased and the pure practicality of inexpensive clothing, and the same sophomoric T-shirt humor found in English, now available in Spanish-Sex Instructor-First Lesson Free. Ramones T-shirts were also on sale at more than one stand.

You hear the gravelly voice of old Spanish men and women; others look like Uncle Junior, while the tragically hip look for the de rigor sunglasses. The tradition of El Rastro is 500 hundred years old and I think one of the original vendors is still selling socks.
It has a reputation for pickpockets which is countered by a large police presence.

Also on Sunday morning philatelists and numismatists gather at the Plaza Mayor where maybe 50 vendors sell stamps, money, and coins. There were a number of envelopes (called covers in English and sobres in Spanish) which were stamped censored after the Spanish Civil War. There were also mourning covers, bordered in black, which were sent in sympathy before stamps were used.

Seeking sanctuary I stopped in the Church of San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid. It has beautiful terra cotta statuary and the reliquary of the saint and his wife. I am always skeptical of who is buried where. I was also curious who is attending Mass. No surprise the vast majority where over 55.

Had a decent meal behind the Plaza Mayor, with a very good gazpacho. When you are in the Plaza there is a statue. Follow the horse's behind and make a left.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 11:15 PM
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Aduchamp1,
In Las Meninas Velázquez looks outwards, beyond the pictorial space to where a viewer of the painting would stand, because he is creating a portrait of the kings who are placed outside the picture space IN A POSITION SIMILAR TO THAT OF THE VIEWER.
A mirror hangs in the background and reflects the upper bodies of the king and queen.
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Old Feb 24th, 2010, 01:07 AM
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Las Meninas is one of the most analyzed paintings in western culture and due to its combination of reality and allusion is subject to great interpretation.

Simply because the artist is looking out does not mean that is what is he is painting. He could be seeking the approval of the king and queen, since one intention of the work is to reveal the inner workings of the court. And after all the work is named after the maids of honor who flank their daughter.
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Old Feb 24th, 2010, 06:17 PM
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I think Rogier van der Weyden's "Descent of the Cross" doesn't get enough recognition in the Prado. The Northern Renaissance and the Flemish Primitives just don't get enough attention. But it's a great painting. The NYT article mentions it.

I don't know why, but I've always got a soft spot for Guido Reni, so his "Atalanta and Hippomenes" should get a mention:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-en...12-744425.html

There are many other Velasquezes at Prado apart from "Las Meninas." I like "Surrender of Breda."
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 02:06 AM
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Surfergirl,

My attack was anything but "mindless" -- especially in comparison to your posts -- but forgive my outsized rage at what has happened to museums, what they have had to do just to survive. It's not longer just a question of trying to fend off the barbarians at the gate, it's the baboons climbing over the gate, children in tow.

I hope your son is able to complete his tax-funded education before (a) it is closed by the same people who won't pay taxes to support museums and therefore force them into the arms of self-congratulating ignormuses and (b) he becomes a self-congratulating ignoramus. Sincerely. You would benefit from learning more about art and the intentions of artists before you open your mouth about it. Unsurprisingly, you're a heroine to questionqueen, who will -- mindlessly -- follow your example.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 02:19 AM
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Aduchamp and Op111,

Aren't you both missing something here? The article cited by the curator at the Prado is NOT about getting to know great paintings in any amount of time. It's about getting to know the PRADO MUSEUM.

Do you see the difference?

The Prado is actually not a large museum, and learning its layout, its guiding principles and getting a rough inventory of its major holdings on display ought not to be a time consuming project. If your primary purpose for entering g a museum is
"museum-ology" (and sometimes mine is, especially after a renovation or visiting a museum like Guggenheim Bilbao) it isn't hard to estimate how many minutes that's going to take if you know the size of the museum.

But that shouldn't be confused with the primary purpose most people have in entering a museum. which is to learn something about art by viewing one or more paintings. To claim that most people will accomplish that purpose in any meaningful sense with a fast look at hundreds of paintings is -- what word won't hurt your feelings: Inane? Ignorant? Miseducated? Idiotic? People who take that attitude with gusto will have satisfied themselves -- no question. And like I said, I'm happy they're in and out so quickly since they dont know why they're there in the first place. But they're not part of the conversation about art. They can't be.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 02:24 AM
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Primeranoche, well, I don't think I am missing anything. I am quite fine really.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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ooooh, I go away for a week in rome [galleria doria-pamphili greatly enjoyed, including by DS aged 19 who is presently taking a gap year in his tax-payer subsidised education andonly occasionally resembles a baboon] and all hell breaks out here.

primeranoche - if I may say so, I do think that you are taking a somewhat purest view of what surfergirl said. I do not read her as favouring children running around in museums shouting their heads off. those of us who must perforce travel with our children [and believe that we have a responsibility to educate them so they when they travel without us, they will be interested in more than where they can find the nearest Big Mac] have to find a way to make art and museums accessible to them. counting canines may progress to a deeper interest in art or it may not, but I applaud her[silently of course] for trying.

auduchamp - thank you very much for posting your account of your museum visiting in Madrid. I wish i'd had it with me when we went about 3 years ago. I recognise that my art educaton was very sketchy. [oops, no pun intended!]
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 10:50 AM
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Aren't you both missing something here? The article cited by the curator at the Prado is NOT about getting to know great paintings in any amount of time. It's about getting to know the PRADO MUSEUM.

Do you see the difference?
__________________________________________________ __
No, a museum is the work that it displays.

When I told my wife and SIl about this topic, who are both artists and have spent considerable time in Spain they laughed. It takes 45 minutes to enter, become acclimated, and just find a few things you want to see.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 10:55 AM
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Annhig

I do not have any formal training. I am very active in our art coop which has over 400 members. If you have the interest and passion the knowledge will come.

And I guess that is why 45 minutes is a bit absurd. The way a shopping list has milk, butter, potatoes, a museum to some is just like the potatoes, something on the list to get.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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Isn't the bottom line to all of this the simple question --

"Which is better -- 45 minutes in the Prado or 0 minutes in the Prado?"
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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I didn't read the article, but I can't argue with the premise -- we've always subscribed to Art Buchwald's "Six-Minute Louvre" method.

http://tinyurl.com/y8p8ja6
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 04:01 PM
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Personally I really do think that 45 minutes is enough in certain cases and I agree with the Prado expert. The fact is many museums offer one-hour tours or one-hour itineraries, as I've already mentioned above.

If these aren't worthwhile, then why would museums offer them? Surely they must know more about their holdings and how to engage the public than anyone else.

Museum going, like everything else, is not a "one size fits all" endeavor. Everyone starts somewhere at his or her own pace.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 04:04 PM
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Which is better -- 45 minutes in the Prado or 0 minutes in the Prado?"

Neo-would you recommend that someone see only the first half of a play?
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 05:13 PM
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I don't see why not, actually.

I've been to partial operas.

If there's a law that operas must be seen in their entirety, record companies would not bother putting out CD excerpts.

I think the play analogy is quite poor, actually. I've never seen "Streetcar named Desire," but if I had only 5 minutes to see the movie, I'll want to make sure that I fast forward to the section where Marlon Brando yells "Stella."

What if I twist the question this way? What's better? 450 minutes in the Prado or 45 minutes?

As I said, everyone starts somewhere. Museum going, like everything else, is not necessarily a linear from A to B experience. I don't see anything wrong with choosing and picking.

To someone who doesn't know classical music, I'd not tell this person, please start with the complete "Ring" cycle.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 05:24 PM
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Personally I think that there's something missing in this entire discussion. As I keep saying, everyone starts somewhere.

It's entirely plausible that an art lover acquires this love by short, repeated visits to museums. In fact it's very likely. I don't think that a classical music lover develops a love of classical music by listening to the "Ring."

Perhaps there's no value with a single 45-minute visit -- (I definitely disagree with this premise, but anyway) -- but there's cumulative value in five 45-minute visits. You get the idea.
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