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Back to Reviews 97


   

letter from madrid: the museum triumvirate

by Ysabel de la Rosa  
 

















Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
The Soul's Immaculate
Conception c.1678


































Diego Velázquez de Silva
The Medici Gardens in Rome




















Francisco de Goya
Nude Maja
before November
1800




















Francisco de Goya
Clothed Maja
c. 1800-03




















Diego Velázquez
Infanta Margarita of Habsburg




















Francisco de Goya
The Third of May, 1808
1814


























































































Museo National
centro de Arte Reina
Sofía.

















Joan Miró
Portrait II (Retrato II)
1938

















Juliao Sarmento
1994 Exhibition: "La Piel de Toro"



















Salvador Dalí
Muchacha de Espaldas
1925



















Antonio Løopez Garcia
Sinforoso y Josefa
1955



















from the exhibition
"Arte Madi"













































































































































Palacio de
Villahermosa



















Edward Hopper
Habitación de
hotel
1931



















Thomas Cole
Expulsión. Luna
y luz de fuego.
c. 1828



















Juan Gris
El fumador
1913



















George Grosz
Suicide
1918











































































































   In Madrid there is a very busy place, trod over daily by thousands of pairs of black shoes. It is Kilometer Zero, the literal geographic center of Spain, located in the Puerta del Sol. It is also the apex of Madrid's "Golden Art Triangle" -- central to the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, three extraordinary museums. None of the three has the circus atmosphere so often cultivated to keep museum budgets in the black. These museums nurture both the viewer and the viewed -- the Prado with its old-world, laissez-faire ambiance; the Reina Sofía with its attention to detail in all matters physical and architectural; the Thyssen-Bornemisza with its consummate, slightly cool and quiet professionalism.

The Prado: Glory that was Spain
Welcome to the Old World, still very much alive in this neo-classical setting created in 1785 by architect Juan de Villanueva. Welcome also to the contradictions that are Spain. The Museo de Prado is not one building, but two, the Villanueva and the Casón de Buen Retiro, joined together. A monumental statue of Velázquez holds court in front where the two join, but the "front" door is never open. You can enter from north or south, through the Puerta de Goya or the Puerta de Murillo.

Travel light within these halls; you are not allowed to check your bags or other traveling "stuff." Security is low-tech, but abundant in watchful guards. At each entrance you can pick up a tiny map indicating where the various collections are located, but with no further information. The museum itself is very poorly marked, but this forces one to discover rather than just peer, and this is a great part of the Prado's charm. The Prado has very few temporary exhibitions, the most recent being a little-publicized show of Gothic art from Cataluña, small but exquisite. There are no more temporary exhibitions planned for the rest of 1997 or early 1998. But who needs traveling exhibitions at the Prado?

Here is Spain in its 17th-century glory. El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Murillo all live here, with some impressive next-door neighbors -- Van Dyck, Poussin, Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Given the high fidelity of graphic reproduction in today's print and electronic media, it's not uncommon for the viewing of works of old masters in the flesh of their own canvas to be an anti-climactic experience. Not true at the Prado. The size and sheer energy of these paintings could never be wholly reproduced on page or screen.

The Painting's the Thing
The Prado is about painting. It houses only one decorative collection, the Dauphin's Treasure, objets d'art inherited by Philip V, and contains some sculpture, figures of myth and history but none too important. This was not the intention of Charles III, who commissioned Villanueva to create a museum devoted to science, not art. In 1819, Ferdinand VIII played destiny's hand and turned the palace into "The Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture." Through the years the royal collection was supplemented by ecclesiastical and "national" pieces. Today, the two grand buildings, the Villanueva and its adjacent Casón de Buen Retiro, together can display only one-tenth of the collection.

Core Experience
The heart of the art at the Prado is its 17th-century collection, but it is augmented by spectacular examples from the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest Spanish works serve to remind that Spain is not strictly a Latin culture. St. Dominic of Silos by Bermejo is of the Hispanic-Flemish school, a pairing of cultures often forgotten when one thinks of contemporary Spain. The 15th- and 16th-century, non-Spanish artists represented are not numerous, but what is here all falls in the treasure category: Dürer, Brueghel, Botticelli, Fra Angelico and Titian, among others. Moving to the 17th century, you'll find just one Caravaggio (David and Goliath) and just one Rembrandt (Artemisia), but you can spend a good 20 minutes with Caravaggio and even more time with the Rembrandt. We do not know if the cup being offered to Rembrandt's Queen Artemisia contains the ashes of her dead husband or a poison that will grant her the grace of suicide while "saving" her from being killed by encroaching enemies, a mystery well-served by the golden, glowing green of the queen's robe set against the deep, dark background. Quite a contrast to the two Rubens nearby, always a convention of the flesh and the fleshy, but no less masterful for its lack of the contemplative and mysterious.

Lucky Number 17
The artistic chemistry of the 17th century defies explanation, as does the variety in 17th-century Spanish art. Zurbarán's work has the altered-state clarity of a Surrealist. Ribera rivals Caravaggio with his chiaroscuro. El Greco blends Byzantium and Mannerism in a way never done before and never to be done again. Amidst the stark darks and lights and piercing diagonals, enters Murillo, known for painting tenderness and serenity, an artist who showed the saints and the holy family as children in many of his works to further heighten these tender effects and, of course, to attract more believers to the Christian faith. And then--and then there is Diego Rodríguez Velázquez. Francisco Goya wrote that he recognized only three teachers in his artistic development: Reality, Rembrandt, and Velázquez. Here, at the Prado, the student and the teacher meet.

The Dynamic Duo
The electric energy of Goya haunts, the sheer splendor of Velázquez awes, each rendering royal portraiture that goes way beyond its subject matter. Goya travels into the deep, dark cynicism that comes from knowing the truth behind what and whom he must paint, a truth, a moral judgement that resonates alchemically in the canvas, while Velázquez subjects his subjects not to his opinion of them but to his virtuosity, covering them with brushwork until their hands and heads become more punctuation than person. Goya's portraits confront the viewer: "Go in if you dare," they seem to say, while Velázquez's royal portraits present the viewer with fashion and a face, and an impenetrability that gives the work an air of fascination. "Come close," it says, "but don't come in," his artful use of aerial perspective notwithstanding.

Most cultures base a substantial part of their identity on contradiction and contrast. Spain is certainly no exception. The contrasts and contradictions visible in the works of Velázquez and Goya serve as reminders not to categorize. The Prado shows us the Spanish Velázquez and the Italian one, the artist who could animate a flat surface with as much detail and pattern as an Islamic artisan and who could create an interior scene with an extraordinary three-dimensional depth and light, who could record the loud history of soldiers at war or a quiet moment of a peasant at a well. Here is the tormented Goya, painter of Saturn Devouring One of his Sons, and the playful creator of Majas 1 & 2. (This confrontational female was originally called Gitana, Gypsy.) Here is the young man who began his career painting cartoons for tapestries, lyrical pieces full of light, and the realist who created one of the western world's darkest archetypal images of war, The Third of May: Executions on Príncipe Pio Hill.

Although painted far in the past, Spain's recent history and even some of its current affairs continue to resonate with and in these works.

Heaven-Bent
This dynamic, contrasted cross-century duo is hard to reconcile with Murillo (17th), whose presence at the Prado is also exceptionally strong. An almost-too-sweet ecstasy replaces cynicism and mysteries of the court in these paintings created for churches and convents. Despite the repeated, "tender" Virgins, with eyes lifted to the heavens and feet in the clouds, and other sentimentalized religious subject matter, Murillo's work has a mysterious strength and energy. He could have been a churchman's Bouguereau, but he is not. His blues save him, fortified mixtures of Prussian, turquoise, and sky shades which exercise a grounding influence, as do his compositions based on circles that connect on multiple strong diagonals.

Seeing and Understanding
You won't find much from the eighteenth century here, other than Goya. There are some nineteenth-century jewels, such as the small impressionist-style painting of the artist's children by Fortuny Marsal. Sorolla is represented, but he has his own museum in Madrid, which is where you need to go for an overview of this painter of "luminismo." But this is as it should be. There is no reason for the Prado to put heavy icing on the core of its collection.

It is within this core, particularly within the work of Velázquez, Murillo, and Goya that you can experience much of the essential nature and formation of the Spanish character, always strong, and capable of living with continual dramatic contrasts, a psyche capable of rising and plunging, of white-fire ecstasy, blackest despair, and innumerable states of being inbetween. The rest of the Spanish collection follows suit. If you enjoy Spanish art, the Prado is good. If you want to understand Spanish culture and history, the Prado is essential.

Details
Photographs without flash are allowed. Lighting is poor. Automatic cameras will need 1000 ASA minimum. Film (up to 1600 ASA) is available at the gift shop up to 1600 ASA. No place to check coats or bags.

Gift Shop/Book Store
Large selection. Convincing reproductions of some of Goya's lesser-known line drawings. Good books on Madrid, its history, and its architecture. Small kiosk at the Puerta de Murillo has some posters, post cards, and guidebooks for sale in front of ticket booth.

Food
Cafeteria in the basement, good food ($4-$10). Seating can be tight. You may want to eat before 2 p.m. or after 4 :30 p.m. to avoid crowds. Non-smoking section available, a rarity in Spain.

Handicapped accessibility
Recommend entering through Puerta de Goya, lower level (North entrance) May need to ask for assistance.

Hours
Closed Monday. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 9a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays and holidays, 9-2.

Admission
500 pesetas (about $3.60). Free Saturday after 2 :30 and all day Sunday. 50% discount for students with ID. Children under 12 free. Discounts for Senior Citizens.

Address & phone
Edificio Villanueva
Paseo del Prado s/n
28014 Madrid
Phone 34-1-320-2800
Fax 34-1-330-2856
34-1-330-2905
Web site: http://www.mcu.es/prado

Guides Available
You can buy very brief guides on key artists, such as Velázquez, in the galleries for the equivalent of 80 cents. The paintings themselves have no information beyond title and artist. Complete guides in various languages available in the book shop. Guided tours available in many languages.

Spain Recovered and Reborn: The Reina Sofía
Welcome to contemporary Spain. While Franco was carrying on the business of suppression, keeping kisses out of the movies and public expression to a bare minimum, artists in Spain and Spanish artists outside of Spain worked with unchecked creativity, in a wide range that covered realism, impressionism, black-and-white portraiture, and expressive abstraction. All of this and more can be seen here, at the museum named for and patronized by the queen of Spain, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The Reina Sofía, (for short) is a powerful testament to the modern-day recovery of a country that survived 40 years of unrelenting dictatorship. It is also testament to the positive legacy of that same dictatorship, which nurtured the royal family and kept Hitler from entering Spain during World War II.

The Site
The six-story, eighteenth-century building, a hybrid of Italian baroque and Escorial austerity, served as Madrid's general hospital until 1965. It was constructed by Francisco Sabatini in 1776-1781, who was also the architect for the Palacio de Oriente in Madrid. Threatened with demolition, the hospital was rescued in 1977 by the government. In 1978, it served as the temporary home of the National Ballet of Spain. In 1980, its new career began when the Arts Council commissioned (one could say "challenged") architect Antonio Fernández Alba to undertake preliminary restoration of what is still one of Madrid's largest buildings. The museum measures approximately 165,000 square feet, making it larger than the MOMA, the Guggenheim, the Tate Gallery, and Tokyo's National Museum of Modern Art combined. Before opening, the museum also brought architects Antonio Vázquez de Castro and José L. Iñiquez de Onzoño on board to participate in the restoration process.

The building and its interior courtyard are a marvel, worth seeing and exploring for their own sake. (Movie buffs, take note: Scenes of the movie "Reds" were filmed here.) The stone walls and six-foot-wide stone staircases have been preserved perfectly, even though the massive walls now house 900 kilometers of ductwork, 4000 sensory devices, and 98 cameras. The works of art could not be displayed better, in terms of placement and lighting. The halogen lighting, created specifically for the museum after months of research, is virtually shadowless.

The Main Collection
The main collection takes up 45 rooms on two floors. The second-floor exhibit covers the "evolution of Spanish art and its international context from the end of the eighteenth century (basically where the Prado collection ends) to the years immediately following the Second World War." In a word, the birth of the Spanish avant-garde.

Second-floor Highlights
The two main centers of artistic renewal at the turn of the century in Spain were Barcelona (Catalán painters) and País Vasco ( Basque painters). Of the Cataláns of this period, Santiago Rusiñol is my favorite. His work is palpable, haunting; in his quiet garden scenes, it looks like something is about to happen. Somehow, he creates a garden that could be a verb.

The versatile Madrileño José Gutierrez Solana has his own room, as does Juan Gris, whose work Retrato de Josette, among others, introduces the viewer to cubism. In many ways, his cubism is better than Picasso's, and has a classical touch in its composition that does not make him any the less modern or innovative for its presence. It's some justice that he has his own room, having had to paint in Picasso's shadow.

The greatest surprise for me in the permanent collection: the bronze sculptures of Pablo Gargallo, 1881-1934, particularly his mask of Greta Garbo and his larger-than-life Great Prophet.

Interesting that the Great Prophet would proceed Picasso's Guernica. The Reina Sofía is the landmark painting's permanent home because an earlier wax restoration that has now seeped into the canvas prevents further restoration, without which the painting cannot journey. If you cannot go to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the Reina Sofía's Picasso collection is nice compensation, three large rooms, with Guernica at the center, magnificently and starkly displayed.

Lots of Miró, artfully hung with lots of breathing room, international touches from Kandinsky, Masson, Calder, and Arp broaden the viewing horizon, along with surrealists Ernst, Tanguy, Magritte and Oscar Domínguez. Soon to come: a room devoted to the work of film director Luis Buñuel.

Fourth-floor Highlights
The fourth floor of the museum begins in the 1940s, delving into "the first cohesive attempt to recompose the cultural scene after the Spanish Civil War." During this time-period landscape painting experienced a renewal among Spanish painters, Juan Manuel Díaz being one of the best-known exponents of the genre.

Best surprise in this section (Room 18): three paintings by Cuban-born Pancho Cossío, work with marvelous handling of varied blacks and whites, and painterly skill that recalls Whistler or Manet, but with a distinctively dark Spanish touch.

One of the strengths of this part of the Reina Sofía's collection is its commitment to show Spanish art in an international context. Keeping company with the Spaniards on display are Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, Pierre Alechinsky, Asger Jorn, and Yves Klein, whose electric blue sculpture Nike of Samothracia is a startling delight.

On the fourth floor, as on the second, the Catalans make a strong showing, no one better than Josep Guinovart. His large abstract collage/painting is the star of the collection.

The fourth floor houses the smaller temporary exhibits that include the works of current international artists. Some of these are really worth seeing, such as Jose María Sicilia's monumental and mysterious abstract Ochre Flower. Not so worthy: the required standard modern museum fare, paintings that look like a wacked-out, watered-down combo of Kline, Gottlieb, and de Kooning, and big, dark three-dimensional works that took a long time to create and have virtually nothing to say. Kandinsky wrote that there is no must in art, for art is free, and I suppose this means that art is free to be meaningless. However, the museum is to be commended for its perseverance in showing the latest just for the sake of. This is part of what gives an institution life and keeps it growing.

The Art of Research
the Reina Sofía offers visitors an extensive reference center and library. The library has more than 50,000 volumes, 80 individual reading centers, 13,000 information files on contemporary artists, and 196 international art magazines. The reference center contains 500 videos, documentaries and examples of video art by Spanish artists, 4,000 sound recordings, and 7,000 slides of contemporary artworks. This is good news for students and specialists. However, all visitors are welcome, with ID.

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

En la piel de toro (In the skin of the bull)
Through September 8, 1997
The "skin of the bull" refers to the map of Spain and Portugal. This exhibit proposes to establish a "visual dialogue" between six Spanish and six Portuguese artists, with works done principally from the 1980s to now. The majority of the artists represented created works especially for this show.

Lipchitz : Un mundo sorprendido en el espacio
(A world surprised in space) Through September 2, 1997
An "anthology" of 80 sculptures and related drawings by the twentieth- century sculptor, designed to show the artist's "disconcerting variety of styles." The exhibit covers his work from 1915 to 1960. The movie, "Portrait of an Artist : Jacques Lipchitz" is shown Monday-Friday. This is the first major Lipchitz exhibit to be held in Spain. Lipchitz's first trip to Spain in 1914, accompanied by Diego Rivera, had an important influence on the work of the sculptor, particularly his time in Mallorca. The Spanish influence is apparent in Lipchitz's sculptures, Spanish Servant, Toreador, and Spanish Dancer. Although not of a toreador, his sculpture Bull and Condor captures the power of the Toreo and the celestial muscle of the toro in a way that no two-dimensional work can. A powerful journey through a wealth of interesting work.

Eugenio D'ors : From Arts to Letters
Through September 30, 1997
An unusual exhibit of art by one of Spain's most famous art critics. D'ors wrote a definitive, romantic guide to The Prado that is still widely read today. He lived from 1881-1954.

Arte Madi
July 1 - October 20, 1997
This exhibit will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Arte Madi group in Buenos Aires in 1946. The Madi took a "polygonal" approach to visual dynamism, exploring the expressive possibilities of holes, voids, articulations and flat chromatism, work that reminds the viewer of constructivists, both Russian and Italian, and yet feels quite different. Arte Madi is alive and well today, and part of the exhibit will be devoted to providing a "global view of the movement at the present time."

Moholy Nagy October 14 - December 1, 1997
Drawings of Pablo Gargallo October 21, 1997 - January 13, 1998
Fernand Léger October 28, 1997 - January 12, 1998
Mark Tobey November 11, 1997 - January 12, 1998

Details
Photography is not allowed. Check room is available, but you can keep your bag with you during your visit after it has passed through a scanner. ATM available.

Food
Very nice restaurant in basement. Sandwiches at the bar for about $2, large meal in sit-down, NY café environment for around $8-9.

Gift Shop / Book Store
One gift shop at museum entrance. Much larger gift store, with different selection inside museum. Both accessible without paying an entry fee. Excellent selection of contemporary art books and biographies in several languages, including books on museum creation and management.

Handicapped Access
Good, with large comfortable elevators. Assistance available.

Hours
Closed Tuesday, otherwise open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 :30 p.m.

Admission
500 pesetas per person (approximately $3.60). 50% discount for students or youth with ID. No charge for students under 18 or persons 65+. Free Saturday after 2 :30 and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 :30 p.m. You can enter the museum and walk around for free, but must have a ticket to enter any exhibition room.

Address & Phone
Santa Isabel, 52
28012 Madrid
34-1-467-5062
34-1-467-3163 Fax

The Once and Future Collection: The Thyssen-Bornemisza
Welcome to the future Spain, the European one. The old saying that Europe ends at the Pyrenees isn't true anymore. Proof-positive: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection housed in the Palacio de Villahermosa, a chronological journey through the Western art world, beginning in the 13th century. Why is this collection in Spain? The Palace, constructed in 1805 by Antonio López Aguado, was certainly a draw, but the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza also has a strong Spanish connection in his fifth wife, Carmen Cevera, a former Spanish beauty queen with a quick mind and an ebullient personality. The palace, as the Spaniards say, "suffered" becoming a bank and losing its interior spaces. After being remodeled by architect Rafael Moneo, the palace-turned-museum opened in 1992.

Tale of a Convert
The collection is the result of more than 70 years of art purchasing, family struggles worthy of a novel, and a string of unhappy relationships that led Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza to count on his passion of purchasing art to compensate him for the passion missing in his personal life. In his youth, tired of seeing every wall in his father's home covered with pictures, Thyssen-Bornemisza swore that when he had a home of his own, there would be no pictures in it, because he "hated them." Perhaps the young baron's lack of art appreciation contributed to the haphazard dispersal of the 300 works his father collected. The adult baron-son recanted and later spent a decade recovering the pieces, rebuilding and adding to the collection at the same time he re-grew the family's disintegrated business empire after World War II.

Led by his heart, financed by his head, the baron expanded the collection his father began, adding some 2000 works. (The museum shows approximately 800. The Monastery of Pedralbes in Barcelona houses nearly 100.) And, according to a report in Madrid's El País newspaper, Heinrich and "Tita" (Carmen's nickname) are still buying.

Inside Time
This gathering of art is a powerful one, especially the nineteenth- and twentieth-century works. What makes it powerful is the synergy created by employing chronological placement throughout the museum, which ignores the typical museum dividing-lines of countries, schools, and styles. Thanks to this placement strategy, art-gazers can experience the eerie stillnesses of Balthus and Hopper side by side, an arresting combination, and see in one room how impressionism expressed itself on both sides of the Atlantic. The collection's nineteenth-century American paintings (Chase, Hassam, Sargent, Whistler, Homer, et al) are a much-needed addition to the European museum scene. The selection of 20th-century German works is also exceptionally strong. Perhaps the most dramatic chronological grouping is the salon with Ribera, Caravaggio, El Greco, Titian and Tintoretto all side by side. Heady stuff -- and deeply informative. Dutch painting appears in force, although with a few too many boring flat-scapes of the Dutch countryside and a few too many all-too-still life's. There are many Flemish delights, one of the nicest a free-standing pillar with two Van Eycks displayed back-to-back. The only detraction here is the endless terra-cotta walls. Yes, it's a neutral color, but in 48 rooms? I found myself longing for a touch of museum-white.

The walls recede quickly enough, however, behind this collection that is, in short, a wonder and a joy, brought together with intelligence, extraordinary perseverance, dedication--and passion, a passion that was almost spent when the baron met his inspiring wife. Thyssen-Bornemisza says he was ready to end his life before he met Carmen. Later this year, the baron's big house of art will feature an exhibit called "The Triumph of Venus: Images of Woman in Eighteenth-Century Venetian Painting." Good timing for the man who now has both art and true love on his side.

Tangents
The Thyssen-Bornemisza has a new (relatively) director, Carlos Fernández Henestrosa y Argüelles, who took office in April 1997. A French-born economist who was the director of Madrid's Interactive Science Museum, Fernández Henestrosa's background, which includes managing the Center for Creating Businesses, is notably lacking in art or museum experience, but makes sense when you consider that a) the development and purchasing of the collection is already taken care of, and b) this museum is not a child of the state, ie, government, and will continue to demand a business approach to grow into the next century and to survive the squabbling among the baron's contentious heirs.

Special Programs
The most interesting on the list is "How to listen to contemporary painting," a series of classes / talks held each Wednesday where the goal is to see music and to hear art.

Temporary Exhibits

Duccio and Gaddi
Through July 13, 1997
Duccio di Buoninsegna (1260 -1319), a Sienese painter who painted the altarpiece of the Cathedral of Siena and Taddeo Gaddi (1300-1366), Giotto's "intimate collaborator," are the featured artists in this exhibit.

For the graphically inclined :
Photomontage and Graphic Design from Germany's Weimar Republic
Through September 14, 1997
Small, delightful exhibit, showing great wit and skill.


Not to be missed :

George Grosz: The Berlin Years
Through September 14, 1997
This exhibit includes 20 oils, 100 works on paper, and various sketch books from the artist's time in Berlin, 1893-1933. It opens with a rich silver-toned photograph of downtown Berlin in the 1930s and an assortment of skillfully executed watercolors and oils. Then the descent begins. Was Grosz's innate anger born of a rough, difficult personality or was it the result of "the time?" After having been condemned for blasphemy, Grosz wrote in his defense, "Maybe artistic types like me feel the pains of a coming ... structural change more strongly than so-called normal people ... I was often like a wall that echoed the bloody dehumanized clamor of the surrounding world. A wall on which this time scratched its ghostly distorted faces ... (M)y works are inconceivable without these men and without this time ... and if I am accused, then this time is accused, its atrocity, depravity, anarchy and injustice."

These distorted faces: those who rose to power with Hitler. This time: pre-World War II. Grosz's drawings portray these men, this time, the war, destruction and madness that were to come with shocking clarity. Drawings done as early as 1920 could just have easily been done in 1946. Titles from these drawings and others from the early 1930s reveal the future. "I will do away with all that keeps me from becoming a master." "Blood is the best sauce." "The Pimps of Death." The images are powerful and difficult: A preacher delivers the "holy spirit" to his congregation, bullets pouring from his mouth; Christ hangs on the cross, wearing a gas mask; fat generals step on dead soldiers; a portrait of a German soldier shows a Neanderthal, man devolving, not evolving. The technique suits the message--thick black ink in madly energetic lines, unshaven faces, dripping blood, and a primitive hand that belies the painterly skill of the artist.

The exhibit is a loud, intelligent cry, a voice no less powerful for telling us what we know now than it was 70 years ago for prophesying what no one wanted to hear, what almost no rational person could admit would happen. It is an invitation, no, a demand, for us to keep listening.

Details
Photographs are not allowed. All bags go through a scanner and must be stored in the cloak room. ATM machine available in the basement.

Food
Nice restaurant and bar in the basement. Prices range from $4 to $12.

Gift Shop / Book Store
At entrance of museum, free admission. Museum collection available on CD Rom.

Handicapped Access
Very good, no stairs at the front of the building, elevators very accessible. Wheelchairs available in the cloakroom.

Guides
Free brochures at entrance. Reserve group tours in advance at number listed below. Special tours available for children ages 5-10.

Admission
Adults, 600 pesetas (about $4.30). Special exhibits are extra. Students with ID and retired persons, 350 pesetas ($2.50). Children under 12, accompanied by parents, free.

Hours
Closed Monday. Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Address and Phone
Paseo del Prado, 8
28014 Madrid
34-1-600-3944
34-1-600-2780 Fax
34-1-369-0151 Group tour reservations
E-mail: museo.thyssen-bornemisza@offcampus.es

At any one of the above-listed museums, you can purchase an Abono Paseo del Arte, a pass that entitles persons to discounted entry fees at all three museums. The museums are within walking distance of each other, if you're wearing comfortable shoes, and if not, it's a fast bus ride or very inexpensive cab ride.