Friday, January 02, 2004

We should be back to regular blogging very soon. I put my folks on the airplane this morning; we were happy to see them again, as always. One thing we did was visit the new Caixa Forum building, an art thingie that la Caixa's foundation has set up. (It's really an old building, some sort of industrial complex that they've redone very impressively.) They had a huge exhibition of photos by Cartier-Bresson and another one of Flemish Renaissance paintings from thge Hermitage in St. Petersburg; I particularly liked the portraits and the interior scenes. I don't do too well with cherubim and putti and the like. They had a bunch of paintings by Rubens, but I only liked the portraits. My art history prof once said that Rubens was extraordinarily prolific, and that the reason why is that--from about mid-career--he'd plot out the composition and then his extensive corps of students would do most of the work on the painting themselves. Rubens himself would do the faces and the hands.

What with the temporary exhibits at the Caixa Forum and the others at La Pedrera (which belongs to the Caixa de Catalunya, la Caixa's closest competitor and also a nonprofit, like all Spanish savings banks), we've usually got something worth going to see. In addition, the Picasso often has good temporary exhibits; I remember one on Steinlen and another on Derain which included some stuff by Cezanne. For a city with a lot of pretty good museums--the Picasso, the Miro, the Museum of Modern Art (Casas, Rusinyol, Llimona, etc. in the Parque Ciudadela), and the MNAC, the Catalan National Museum of Art, up on Montjuic, with a good Gothic collection and a spectacular Romanesque collection--Barcelona is lacking in big-time permanent collections like, say, in the Prado, the Rijksmuseum, or the Chicago Institute of Art.

You could argue that both medieval and fin-de-siecle Barcelona are themselves damn good permanent collections, and you'd be right, but I must say that Barcelona gets at least five traveling exhibits per year that are worth a visit. That almost makes up for not having a big permanent collection. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

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