Monday, March 28, 2011

Barcelona Travel Guide: Absorbing the city's spirit

Hola Bloggy Amigos,

Infanta Margarita María
Today we decided to get to know our neighborhood better by sticking to the side streets that zigzag around us. Our first stop was one of my favorite experiences so far, the Museo Picasso. This modern complex within an old stone building houses an impressive collection of the artist's work from his early teens through the 1970s. There's nothing super famous here, but it's fascinating to see the talent he had as a young person living in Spain, and witness his progression to Cubism in the early part of the century. Our favorite part was his comprehensive studies of Velázquez's Las Meninas. This included around 20 mostly colorful, abstract interpretations of the famous painting. I loved seeing the characters all cubed up; he spent a lot of time on the girl in the center (pictured right), particularly.

Arc de Triumf
Running in conjunction with the permanent exhibit was "Vinye tes al Front," a gallery of artist sketches made in response to the wave of dictatorship plaguing World War II Europe. The pieces — mostly cartoon caricatures of Fascist rulers — tied in with Picasso's Guernica and Dream and Lie of Franco. Made up of disfigured horse heads, twisted, agonized faces and dismembered body parts, both pieces grotesquely represent his feelings about the death and destruction that was happening in Fascist Spain. To drive the feeling home, there were photographs depicting bloated animal carcasses, widows crying over dead husbands and bloody children lined up in rows, all victims of a recent air raid. It's frightening to realize something like that happened less than a century ago.

In our short time here, we've already seen that Barcelona is still rife with remnants of Franco's rule — both in the war-torn facades and, more refreshingly, symbols of Barcelona's rebellious spirit that helped bring that asshole down. The rest of the afternoon included a stroll through the Gothic Santa Maria del Mar church and Parc Ciutadella where we posed under one of those symbols of freedom, the Arc de Triumf. Viva España!

Love, Josh

Picasso's Las Meninas

1 comment:

Bill Fogle said...

Impressive that you weave the art into the history, culture, and landscape! That is the strongest way of enjoying where you are.

Too many things in this world are divorced from their setting, and that seems especially true when I look at the photos of artwork you have here and read about the city ... and everything. I admit, I have never cared for Picasso BUT just absorbing the environment as you describe it, and the history, made me (almost!) appreciate it.

Now let's have some more descriptions of the wine, hon.