The Great Plotnik

Saturday, October 13, 2012

10:13 Madrid

Plotnik likes hanging out on street corners with his camera. He likes Madrid and its big city brass. He likes museums, until he starts hating them.

In the last four days he saw several of the most famous paintings in Western art history. At the Prado, he and Duck were walking through a wing of renaissance art when they came to a passageway. Plot looked to the end of a very large room and one painting jumped off the wall at him from a hundred feet away. It was like being in one of those crazy Mayan ruins where you can whisper at one end and be heard loudly at the other.

"Las Meninas," by the great Spanish master Velasquez, is a study in using light. In it, the young infanta to the Spanish throne, at age five, in a pretty white dress, plays with her dog and her servants, as the King and Queen look on, through a misty window, as the painter himself works on a canvas with its back to us, as the entire social order of master and servant, circa 1656, is spelled out like in a textbook without the painter saying a word.

In real life, we know what happened to this beautiful little girl. Married off to an Austrian Duke at 15 she was dead in childbirth by 22.

Then today we saw Pablo Picasso's "Guernica." This is man's worst nightmare, a hopeless, dreadful scene (the Nazis' 1937 bombing of a defenseless village during the Spanish Civil War), spelled out in modernist imagery upon a canvas that takes up an entire room.

The painting was banned in Spain until dictator Franco finally died. Ducknick saw it in the years it hung on the third floor of MOMA in New York. Spain got it back in 1985.

After seeing Guernica there is no point in trying to see anything else.

Plot and Duck went into the courtyard and drank a beer and listened to a band and tried to convince themselves that a takeover by an ultra-religious, vicious military tyrant would not be possible in America.


At 9:02 AM, Blogger J and J said...

If you are still at Prado, be sure to see the "Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella"
The passion in the painting is quite amazing according to Jerry.
To the right of that painting is another painting of a bunch of guys on a beach that are having a bad day.
Look at their eyes. Amazing.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

I love these posts, keep 'em coming!


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