Lisbon – Portugal

Another quick visit, this time to Lisbon for 2 days. With limited time I decided to visit just 2 of the major galleries and then spend the rest of the time walking around getting a bit of a feel for the place - and eating. There are many excellent little fish restaurants.

First I went to the Gulbenkian gallery. Gulbenkian was a fabulously rich Armenian oil baron who amassed a large and diverse art collection, a good deal of which is here on display. Immediately impressive at the entrance is a life size group of figures "Spring" which stood outside the Ruhlmann pavilion at the 1925 Paris Arts Decoratif Exposition - the birthplace of Art Deco.


Inside was a wide variety of high quality stuff - not that I liked this massive silver French table ornament measuring nearly 1 metre across. Made in 1766, no wonder there was a revolution not long after, with the nobility choosing to spend their pennies on this kind of thing.

Silver ornament

There was a lot of puke inducing French furniture on which I would have used my flame thrower had I remembered to bring it. But there some great Egyptian antiquities: cats from about 500BC.

Egyptian cats

Lots also of Middle East tile artwork and fabric and gorgeous Lalique art nouveau jewellery.

Middle east tile art

Next, I went to the sprawling well stocked Berardi Collection, the permanent exhibition of which covers visual art (mainly painting) 1900 - 1960. It started well with Cubism and had some good material. Like in an Ikea store you follow the way through as it progresses through the years and the various schools that developed. Nothing spoke to me in the Informalism, Existential Figuration, Decollage or Nouveau Realism sections. My pace quickened in the Minimalist and Post-Minimalist sections, after all, there wasn't much to see. Presumably these blocks of wood have a meaning beyond being blocks of wood. But it escapes me.

Blocks of wood

By the time I got to Neo-Dadaism I was positively sprinting for the exit catching only a glimpse of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup on the way out. There was a little Henry Moore I quite liked. The notes gave 1937-1976 as the date of execution so I'm not quite sure where it fits.

Henry Moore

Economically Portugal has a much stronger outlook than Spain with unemployment at just 12% compared to Spain with about 22%. Lisbon seems very lively with lots of young people around and is made more interesting because it is very old and hilly. This means lots of twisting narrow streets and buildings with "patina" if that's what this should be called – there are lots of old apartment buildings in disrepair.

Building patina

Much need here for renovators/developers with some capital to inject.

Manhole covers unremarkable.


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