I was looking forward to exploring Madrid, I had done some research on the place and was thinking of walking in and around the city – parks, plazas etc, but then we decided to visit the modern art museum. Spending time at a museum (boring idea??!!) is not exactly how I like to explore and know a city but I thought we could spare an hour or two.
So we head to Renia Sofia Museum, the largest contemporary museum in the world. While checking out the museum map/literature I had heard some of the painter/artist’s names the museum was exhibiting and one name that caught my attention was Picasso. Sure I have heard of Picasso (who hasn't !?!) but I had never seen any of his works or knew why he was considered a genius. You can call me the ignorant kind when it comes to art. So I did not know what to expect.
As we started walking through Picasso's works I was plain staring at some of the paintings because I could fathom them – the dialogue in my head was something like this - that line, is that a nose? ; oh my god are those supposed to be eyes; is that someone’s face... so on and so forth. I could not follow any of the sketches and was forming opinions and being judgmental about every painting I saw as if I were an art expert. (things we do when we are ignorant... common on we all do it!!!).
Then we walked into this big room and a huge painting, 11 by 26 feet, was hung on the wall and it was the only painting in that room. It was a black and white painting but it was so dramatic, powerful and stirred up a lot emotions. I went forward read the note below the painting – ‘Guernica’ – it was a Picasso’s masterpiece.
There are many masterpieces in the Reina Sofia museum but this one stands out and speaks so loud. I stood there for good 10 minutes or so, to see the many elements/emotions the painting had. Then took a huge sigh and realized why Picasso was considered a genius. Once you see the painting its almost difficult to ever forget the image.
The Spanish government appointed Picasso to paint a large mural to display at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. It was created as reaction to the aerial bombings on the town Guernica in Spain by German and Italian forces during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Guernica shows the cataclysms of war as well as the anguish and destruction it inflicts upon people, especially innocent civilians.
After it was completed, Guernica was exhibited worldwide during a limited tour, and it received wide acclaim and became famous. The exposure brought the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention. It was hung in a New York's Museum of Modern Art until 1981, fulfilling Picasso's wish that it should not be shown in Spain until democracy was established. It was then exhibited at the Prado Museum (in Spain) , and moved to Renia Sofia Museum (its current house) in 1992. This painting has attained an enormous reputation over the years, and has become a reminder of the devastation of war, becoming an anti-war symbol and an embodiment of peace.
My encounter with Pablo Picasso’s work ranged from being ignorant to being judgmental about his style to being totally taken back and realizing why he is called a genius – all these range of emotions in less than two hours.
I felt this compulsion to write about this experience because in some way it was a revelation. When you step out of your usual, judgmental mind set and are willing to see/learn things then you realize, how little you know or limited your thinking is. And isn’t it why we travel - to open up to new perspectives, to learn a few things more and to see the works of geniuses. So when in Madrid do visit Renia Sofia Museum and see this masterpiece.
Photography is prohibited inside the museum, so the picture is from Wikipedia