Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Valencia is on the Mediterranean Sea on the east coast of Spain. Milwaukee is on Lake Michigan on the east coast of Wisconsin. Valencia and Milwaukee, with metropolitan areas of about 1.5 million, are approximately the same size. Aside from those two facts, the two cities have almost nothing in common. Oh, except we do have Calatrava.
The difference is, while Milwaukee is justifiably proud of its iconic Calatrava-designed art museum, the suite of buildings that world-renowned architect designed for his home town make our single structure look downright puny. Yes, there are people in the photo of the Science Museum above to give it scale, though you'll have to look closely. The Milwaukee Art Museum's Calatrava wing could fit inside this building--with its wings open--and there would still be room to spare. But wait! There are four more buildings in what is known as the City of Arts and Sciences--along with two bridges.
The opera house (above) looks like some kind of alien spaceship out of Star Trek has landed in this medieval city. In fact, nothing in Valencia--or pretty much anywhere else--prepares the unsuspecting visitor who happens upon this futuristic assemblage of structures. Allow me to take you on a tour...
Panoramic view with the Planetarium in the left foreground and the double arcade called L'Umbracle on the right.
The Agora, a concert and exhibition hall, seen here through the cable stays of one of two Calatrava bridges that cross over the complex, which is in a park setting that is below the surrounding city.
The dome of the Planetarium seen from the promenade of L'Umbracle.
The open arcade of of L'Umbracle, which sits atop a parking garage, is a rigorously ordered botanical garden...
...and the promenade doubles as a showcase for contemporary sculpture. The installation on view when I was there was by an artist named Rogério Timóteo. Behind the sculpture you can see (left to right) the Science Museum the Agora and the asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge.
L'Umbracle at dusk.
And the opera house... whew! I was there and it's still hard to believe it's real.
Stay tuned. These Calatravas in Valencia were spectacular, but Barcelona has Gaudí. I'll show you those soon.
Meanwhile, if you missed my review of the Miró Museum, click here.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
|Painting (for Emili Fernández Miró), 1963|
|Village and Church of Mont-roig, 1919|
This one, from 1935, is titled "Man and woman in front of a pile of excrement" just in case, I suppose, you might not catch that detail. It is from a series known as the "savage paintings."
Most of the early work is modest in size but later paintings and sculptures assume a much larger scale. A few vertical ones, such as "Woman, Bird 1" (below) and one of his monumental tapestries (that I didn't manage to capture on my iPhone) take up entire high ceilinged rooms.
The rooftop provides ample space for sculptures as well as panoramic views of the city below.
This triptych, mounted in an alcove, is titled "Painting on a white background for the cell of a recluse, I, II, III" (1968). The wall panel explains that the alcove reproduces the placement of the triptychs in the artist's studio and quotes Miró: "To me conquering freedom means conquering simplicity. At the very limit, then, one line, one color can make a painting."
|Burnt Canvas 1, 1973|
While the majority of work on view is by Miró himself, there are others as well. This complex temporary installation is in a gallery devoted to contemporary artists. It is titled: Plural Being. I am the Others, the Others are Me by artists identified as Momu & No Es.
Of it the website says this: "Plural Being. I am the Others, the Others are Me reflects the constant search for calm in a hectic society. Through a theme park scenario, the exhibition attempts to answer a series of questions about the times we live in, the things we yearn for, and the rewards we expect in return for our day-to-day efforts.
"Momu & No Es present a new installation that recreates a phantomscape through a series of sculptural elements, mantric sounds, suspended images and performative elements that plunge visitors into a space of sublimation and estrangement. A reflection on personal space and on the body as testing ground that questions the human condition in a hyperconnected era."
|Woman, Bird 1, 1973|
Other sights and scenes from my visit to Spain--including La Sagrada Familia and several other amazing feats of architecture by Gaudí--can be see on Flickr.