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Day Three: Museum Time

July 6, 2011

One of Madrid’s claims to fame is its Triángulo del Arte, or “Art Triangle.”  We’ve got three of the best art museums in the world, and they form a neat little triangle on the map: The Prado, the Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen.  Until this morning, I had only been to the first two, which is just sad.  Everyone knows that an Art Line Segment just doesn’t have the same ring to it!  So day three was spent museum-ing.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (pronounced TEE-sin because nobody knows how to pronounce the second half of that name) is a private collection from the Thyssen-Bornemisza family.  The family of barons had been collecting works of art for about eight decades before the state assisted them in acquiring this building, also known as the Villahermosa Palace, and refurbishing the interior for its opening as a museum in 1992.

As you can see, the current special exhibition is dedicated to Antonio López, but I had quite enough with just the permanent collection.  I stayed a whole fifteen minutes longer than I had planned, which really means something if you understand how serious I am about battling museum fatigue.  Prevention is key!  Spread the word!

One of the coolest things about the Thyssen is their impressive virtual visit.  Not only can you see the layout of the museum and all of the paintings, but you can even click on a painting to see more details and a high-resolution image that you can zoom in on.  It’s helpful if you’re outside Madrid and equally useful if you just saw the art this morning but were tired by the time you got to the Georgia O’Keeffes and breezed through them even though she’s one of your favorite artists ever.  Erm, theoretically.

The best part about the collection itself is that it’s got a bit of everything.  It was a private collection compiled by various family members, so its contents were dictated by the personal tastes of several different people.  They’ve got everything from Italian primitives to Impressionism and Pop Art.  Their collection of 19th century American landscapes is impressive, and I’d bet it’s one of the best that can be found outside of the States.

For those of you who can’t actually visit in person, I’ll share my five favorite paintings from the day.  They’re all from the later period, but what can I say?  I like what I like, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

A painting that surprised me: Thirty-Three Little Girls set out for the White Butterfly Hunt by Max Ernst

A classic that I was excited to see: Bailarina basculando (Bailarina verde) by Edgar Degas

An artist I’d never heard of before: People’s Flowers by Richard Estes

My favorite from the 19th century American stuff: Waverly Oaks by Winslow Homer

And, just because I love Williams: In the Berkshires by George Inness

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