15 Seconds

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Art eye for the geek guy

I´m in Madrid now; our hostel room is currently being constructed - the bathroom wasn´t there this morning but now it (almost) is. Wierd. It does, however, mean that instaead of having a nap before dinner I´m stuck out here blogging. Lucky you.

It´s pretty much the rule that when you´re in Europe you visit too many art galleries to cope with. My trip thus far has been no exception; I´ve visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, and tomorrow I´m off to a Picasso museum to see Guernica, among other things.

I love cynical arguments about the value of art - it´s a better way of sparring than getting drunk and starting a fight - but at the end of the day it´s fantastic to see this the amazing work on display around the continent.

At the Contemporary Art Museum in Barcelona, my favourite piece was a series of videos projected around a dark room to look like frosted doors or windows. Behind the windows were varous scenes - a dog playing, someone washing the window, two people conversing over a cigarette. The impact of the piece came from its realism - at first I thought we were looking at people talking in the room next door. The frosted glass meant that depth was conveyed in light and blurring that made it look much more 3 dimensional than a projection usually does. Dave - I should describe it to you further if you do ever get into sculpture.

The Guggenheim was amazing and exhausting. The architecture is out of this world. The exhibitions inside were definitely a matter of quality over quantity. A couple of pieces stood out.

The work of Anselm Kiefer was fantastic - a great example. Most of his pieces towered above us - this one was about 6 metres high. Brendan - if you haven´t already you should check this guy´s stuff out - it´s reminded me of the sort of stuff you do. The texture in the work, not visible at all in the picture attached, was like nothing else - as well as paint, he worked with straw, clay, even salt crystals. It´s the sort of piece that just had to explore, there was so much detail.

The other series I really liked were steel sculptures by Richard Serra. They were very mathematical constructs, that you could walk through. When inside, the experience of the work was very private - the artist, in a commentary, said that it wasn´t so much about observing the sculpture as observing yourself, experiencing the sculpture. It sounds awfully wanky but I think he´s right. I felt the urge to explore the acoustic properties of them as well, whistling, humming and clicking my way around the gigantic lumps of steel.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza had a chronological collection of art starting in the 13th century or so - blue and gold things from churches. While it was interesting to see the progression of artistic development, my favourites were the cubist and surrealist works, and the more modern stuff in general. I´m looking forward to seeing more Picasso tomorrow.
Lou was beside herself when she saw this particular piece by Clifford Still. It´s about 4 metres high, and the pic doesn´t do it justic at all, but it gives you an idea.

Clifford Still is Lou´s favourite artist, and this is the first time she saw one of his works in ¨the flesh¨, or, oil at least. She was beside herself, which should come as no suprise to. She was trying to explain to me what´s so fantastic about it, but, umm, maybe it´s a bit beyond the depth of my artist appreciation.


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