June 20, 2011

Spain Vignettes: Papeles Mojados

May 3 2011. Barcelona

Museu Picasso.

The morning had been one of discovery. Of little streets and graffiti on the sidewalk. Of finding stone-walls with beautiful sunlight that made for great pictures.

We were on our way to the Picasso museum, which had been a must-see on our list. The line snaked down around the museum till the eye could see, and it looked like there were hundreds of people. We were disappointed: we thought we might not get to see the museum. While Neeto and Attu went to find the end of the line, I walked to about mid-way and asked a girl and her boyfriend how long they had been standing there. Barcelona was the only city where we could attempt conversation first in English, and it worked everywhere in the city.

The man said they had been standing for about ten minutes. Encouraged, I walked to the front of the line. A middle aged man said he had been standing about twenty minutes. I found Neeto and Attu and gave them the news - we would be able to get into the museum quickly, after all.

Photos are prohibited in the museum. The museum itself, is very well designed. It takes you through the formative years of Picasso's life, with paintings from his seaside summers, on to his blue period, chronicling his influences and ending with a detailed explanation of Picasso's many and varied interpretations of Las Meninas, Velazquez's most famous painting.

You are glad that they don't allow photos to be taken - it gives you time to immerse yourself in the stupendous imagination of this prolific painter. There was a blind man with a woman on his arm, who was describing each painting to him and reading out the text that accompanied each section of the museum marking a different phase. It was pretty incredible to see the paintings, but hearing them described to a blind man, was something else entirely. Neeto spent more time than I did listening to the couple, so when she writes about it, I will link to her post.

I bought several postcards of his paintings, including one that does a comparison between Velasquez's original painting which Neeto and I would later see in Museo del Prado, and one of Picasso's interpretations. There is also a bullfight postcard that I bought for my dad as an inside joke: he had asked me while we were planning the trip if I would go to a bullfight, and I had answered "maybe". He was quite upset - I had failed his test - "how could you support this form of animal cruelty?". I also had bought a postcard of painting of a woman, from Picasso's blue period. But I have already given it away to the girl who lent me her backpack that I carried to Spain. The name of that painting is "La dona del floc de cabells".

Here are the postcards:

menu "4 Gats". A representation of El Quatre Gats, a cafe Picasso and other intellectuals frequented.

Huit etats du -Taureau-

La primera comunio (Catalan), La premiere communion (Spanish). First Communion, his first major painting.

Ciencia i caritat (Catalan), Science et Charite (French). Science and Charity, another major painting from his early period of training.

Corrida de toros. Course de taureaux (French)

I found this woman and her colorful attire hauntingly beautiful.
Dona amb mantellina "La Salchichona", 1917.
Femme en costume espagnol "La Salchichona" (French)

"Playa", 1896. This was painted when he was less than ten years old, on a summer visit to the seaside.

Interpretation of Las Meninas
Las Meninas. Conjunto (33). Painted in Cannes, 1957.

Side by side comparison of Velazquez's Las Meninas with Picasso's rendering.

Las Meninas (segun Velazquez) N 1. Cannes 17-08-1957

La Familia de Felipe IV "Las Meninas", Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez. Madrid 1656.

The title is a song by Chambao, translating to "Wet paper". I couldn't find anything else to go with the post.. I wanted to find a Barcelona-based singer, I found only pop songs. I thought of Nina Pastori next, and her album name "Joyas Prestadas" may have been better..but I preferred Chambao's song. If you have a recommendation, do let me know!

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