Madrid: Day Four

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Not another world class art gallery! Apparently so. Bt oddly enough what stayed with me more than the fabled masterworks were images from the temporary exhibition, a collection of photographs of the arctic by Lynn Davis -as if Ansel Adams decided to travel the tundra rather than the desert. Davis studied under Berenice Abbott alongside Robert Mapplethorpe ending up documenting far flung parts of the world.


This collection has been valued at over a billion dollars though that is odd considering that these are irreplaceable icons of art history. Could Gates buy 50 collections of this size? Not really. There was a nice Lucien Freud portrait of the Baron Thyssen (modern patronage?). Degas, Dufy, Hopper, a host of post impressists, Blaue Reiters, etc. and even one from one of my favourite painters Caspar David Friedrich. There was an outstanding Pollock, a Rauschenberg, and even a few Canalettos.

One thing that struck me was the general poverty of art from the 50s onwards (allow me a generalization). Once the idea became paramount, transcended the actual art, we are back with the old religious phase, where what matters most is what is in your mind and not what is happening with your brush. When you look at the stuff in books it all seems quite relevant and proper but up against each other in a world class gallery and the early part of this century makes the latter part look rather uninspired.

2 comments on “Madrid: Day Four

  1. The latter half seems uninspired? Really?

    I don’t know much about art, you may be right, but when I read that it put me in mind of the argument Ombudsben made about the great music from his youth and how there wasnt anything upbeat and decent out there now.

    But there’s so much out there now, you just hafta find it. Surely it’s the same in art, with all the mediums and such a vast array of artists able to put their stuff out there with the internet, that only a very, very few are accepted and represented as definitive ‘artists’ of this time period. But there’s probably more great art than ever. You just hafta find it. And view it in the more personal way we do music now: An artist may not become a mainstream staple, but people can find what they identify as great and make those artists personal watermarks of what defines art now.

  2. Of course you are right. Its whats in the galleries that I am talking about. And i do have some favourites that weren’t represented like Claes Oldenberg and his wonderful size hacking sculptures or Duane Hansen’s ordinary life sculpture, and more..and Francis Bacon. It was a generalization and probably a bad one.

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