I spent a few days with friends in Madrid.
A visit to the Raina Sofia gallery went for 6 hours by which time our physical endurance was exhausted even though, unprecedently, our appetite for the art was not. There was a wide range of great works including my favourite Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer - photos not allowed here unfortunately but he did some wild stuff including a Bauhaus ballet! Many contemporaneous and vivid sketches and other works depicting the Civil War many of which resembled the many, also on display, done by Goya on the 1808 Madrid uprising against the French occupation - all very brutal gruesome stuff - no glorification here - just lots of mangled bodies. Much else besides.
Next was the National Orchestra playing some Brahms and, after interval, Beethoven's 3rd symphony "Eroica". After the Beethoven the Brahms faded completely from my memory. The tall dark handsome conductor was actually German but with his black hair and swarthy complexion looked pure Spanish. Particularly during the Beethoven he was very energetic in his exhortations to the orchestra - half crouching, then on tip toe, swaying back and forth, the half-closed shaking, shuddering fist and the odd head toss. The orchestra responded by giving him both barrels and some more too. Beethoven's 3rd is a great work and as my friend said afterwards "you know you are alive ". Yes - and also that it's great to be alive. I found it particularly moving that the conductor took the applause not from the podium but standing and bowing, hand on heart, amidst the players themselves thereby acknowledging that this was a team effort. No prima donna here. Beethoven would have approved - after all, 'All men shall be brothers ...'. If you're interested, it's worth reading up on Beethoven's dedication of this work to Napoleon and his subsequent angry revocation on learning that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor.
Now for something completely different was a football match at the nearly full 80,000 seat Real Madrid stadium: this pre-match photo is with my friend (name withheld), between Real Madrid and Liverpool "legends". These now retired legends of the game still have their ball skills, they're just somewhat slower. Most of the atmosphere of a big match was here - even The Wave put in an appearance. Still, it doesn't compare to the AFL. A 4-2 win to the Spanish club.
Next was a visit to the house/museum of a middle order Spanish artist, Joaquin
Sorolla, whose house was a lovely traditional Spanish mansion preserved largely
as it was when he lived and worked there. I didn't much care for his works except
for these two. The Mother (the artist’s wife Clotilde) with newborn speaks for itself.
The portrait of Clotilde in a Grey Dress is a rare Spanish painting showing
someone who actually seems happy and well reveals her radiant inner beauty.
Finally, a visit to the Thyssen Museum, reputedly the largest private art collection in the world. I skipped all the dreary stuff i.e. before late 19th century and I particularly liked this little Kandinsky from 1925 and Moon over New Orleans by Richard Lindner from 1963.
All this was interspersed with ample tapas, red wine and other culinary delights.
All in all, a great trip despite a disastrous start (I was pickpocketed - wallet and passport). Nice to be in a city with company where the city assets are indeed assets to be discovered and explored rather than yawning caverns of isolation and desolation.