The main collection is on the 2nd and 4th floors. The museum boasts a large collection of paintings of modern Spanish art. On the 2nd floor, the collection is organized in a circle where you start in the beginning of the 20th century with Spanish impressionists (Rusinol, Mir), move on to the beginnings of avant-garde (with works of Blanchard, Leger, Delaunay, Lipchitz), then switch to Gris, who single-handedly started cubism movement. Here you can also see works of forged iron by Pablo Gargallo. His amazing creations -– a portrait of Greta Garbo and the Great Prophet –- make you wonder how he managed to make iron look so alive, light, and delicate. Reina Sofia has an amazing collection of Picasso’s paintings that cover several periods of his life, however, the most haunting painting on display here is obviously Picasso’s "Guernica," which very clearly shows Picasso’s civil position with regard to war and public suffering. Guernica was a village in the Basque country (not far from Bilbao) that was bombed in 1937 by Germans. Wolf-like grin of the war, people that helplessly look for the end of it all, trying to reach that light that brings with it the deliverance from that unbearable suffering. The painting has basically two colors: white=light, black=death. The idea is very clear –- hope for the peace and life without explosions, murders, or wars.
Next we switch gears to surrealism and encounter paintings by Miro, Dali, Kandinsky, Calder, Ernst, Tanguy, and Magritte. The rest of the floor is devoted to the Spanish art of the 1920s and 1930s, the most noted works here are paintings by Benjamin Palencia and sculptures by Alberto Sanchez, one of which is right outside of the entrance to the museum. The collection on the 4th floor is of more modern works. The most famous name here is probably Antoni Tapies, whose art can also be seen in Barcelona.
Continued in Part I
Telephone: 91 467 50 62.
Open Mon, Wed-Sat 10am–9pm; Sun 10am–2:30pm. Closed on Tuesdays, Jan 1, Dec 24, 25, 31.
Prices: 3.01€ – adults
Free on Sundays, Saturdays 2:30 pm–9 pm, May 18, Oct 12, and Dec 6.
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
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This place is AMAZING, if you like contemporary art, surrealism, or modern art, then this is your place. If you are sick of looking at paintings of Jesus and the mother Mary, this is your place. Spend an hour wondering through the bottom floor of temporary installments, then move on to floor 2 and 4 to see the masters of surrealism. Save extra time fro the Bali and Picasso rooms, they are mind blowing!
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If you read Spanish, do pick up the free brochure "MNCARS La Coleccion Permanente," as it gives you the room numbers of artists’ works on floors 2a to 4a. There’s a Big Three featured in this museum devoted primarily to Spanish artists, which includes Picasso, Miro, and Dali. The "star attraction" is Picasso’s "Guernica," an enormous oil-on-canvass that the ill-fated Republican government commissioned for the 1937 Universal Exhibition in Paris. Unexpectedly and horrifically, Picasso’s subject matter for that commission stemmed from his angry response to Fascist atrocity. On April 26 of that year, Nazi aircraft simpatico to Franco bombed the Basque town of Guernica, killing and maiming civilians in a bizarre preview of efficiently devastating blitzkriegs to come. Ironically, the muted grey, white, and black memorial of that event depicts no bombs, no guns, and no soldiers. Bullfighting symbols occur, but there are no symbols of war. And lots of gaping mouths abound in this scene of the effects of technological indifference to humanity.
This famous cartoon-like work occupies the center of the Sofia’s second floor. Like the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, "Guernica" draws the most attention from visitors. Since I had seen it years ago, in the ‘50s, when it was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was more interested in the nearby photo collection by Dora Maar that captured the stages during Picasso’s execution of the work. After Franco’s and Picasso’s death, it still took time until "Guernica" returned in 1981 to a non-Franco Spain as the ardently anti-Franco Picasso had stipulated. Later, when the Sofia opened up in a reconverted hospital, "Guernica" was moved appropriately to this contemporary Spanish museum.
From journal Magnificent Museum Madrid
August 22, 2004
Picasso’s Guernica is by far the most famous painting at the Reina Sofia. Commissioned by the Republican government to create a mural for the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, Picasso at first procrastinated, unsure what his subject would be. Then on April 26, 1937 the northern Spanish town of Guernica was bombed by Nazi warplanes in support of nationalist leader General Francisco Franco’s attempt to overthrow the republic. The bombing was one of the first instances of saturation air strikes against non-military targets. Although the exact death toll was never firmly established, an estimated 1,500 people were killed and the town was leveled.
Picasso had his subject and immediately set to work. Initial sketches were produced within 5 days of the incident, and despite the size of the piece (roughly 11.5ft x 25.5ft) he completed the painting by June 4. The stark black, gray and white canvas is rich in symbolism. At the left a woman wails with a dead child in her arms. An exploding light bulb is a possible reference to air warfare. A horse wounded by a spear is said to represent the Spanish people. And there’s much more.
The painting still has an impact today. In early February of 2003, a tapestry reproduction at the entrance of the United Nations Security Council was covered with a blue curtain, as officials deemed it inappropriate for Colin Powell to speak about the prospect of war in Iraq with the 20th century's most iconic protest against it as a backdrop.
Elsewhere there’s a nice example of the cubist style by Juan Gris, Portrait of Rosette (1916). Man With a Pipe (1925) and Portrait (1938) are two of the exceptional Miró pieces in the collection.
Dalí also receives hero status here, and Dalí is where 20th century art tends to escape me. Having been to the Dalí museum in Paris, however, I knew what I was in for. While I can certainly appreciate Dalí’s skill as a painter, his message pretty much escapes me. I mean, when one of his paintings has a grasshopper, a fish hook, ants, and a male torso in underwear (just to name a few), I can’t help but wonder what exactly it is he’s trying to tell me. I left the Dalí room defeated and frustrated trying to understand his work.
Your artistic leanings aside, Guernica alone makes the Reina Sofia worth a visit.
Additional information:Web site: http://museoreinasofia.mcu.es/Metro: Atocha (L1)
Tel: +34 91 467 50 62Fax: +34 91 467 31 63
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