Monday 9 March 2009: gallery-day 1: reina sofía
"The pink is an ironic comment on the cold formalism of minimalist art."
As a general rule I've found that art galleries and museums on the European mainland are generally less irritatingly twatty in their information-card-wording than those in Britain, particularly (obviously) those in Edinburgh, particularly those in the temporary exhibitions which almost always leave me determined to email the gallery telling them not to be so purple and pretentious. Most of the information provided in the absolutely excellent Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía was simply information; who did it, what they did it with and (where possible) why but the information-supplier had got a little bit carried away in a few places such as in the (I think only temporary) exhibition of a bloke whose name I can't remember and didn't write down including the nice lifelike waxy bits of Meat Pieces. I recall the particular comment about the pink to be in relation to The Tomb, essentially a messy space containing a pink-painted cast of the artist's body as it appeared when he wasn't dead. There are also only so many sensible ways to describe an orthogonal lump of perspex; the bobbins-spouter chose one of the silly ways.
Apart from the occasional irritation it was an entirely ace place to spend a day wandering around inside and it was almost a relief when we found that we'd finished everything and that the two temporary spaces underneath the giant triangular pink metal roof (not yet visible on Google Maps) were empty, leaving us free to pop up to the balcony bit under the roof then escape. It was slightly odd to have to pass a luggage scanner on the way in but at least they didn't object to a bottle of water in a pocket. The entire room devoted to Guernica was perhaps a little excessive but the room to one side devoted to the studies of the various elements (without exception more interesting than their finished-version equivalents) and the room on the other side showing the construction of the final version (in which a number of roughed-out lines indicating that the original plan was for a much busier image were visible) justify it. Apparently Picasso requested that it be stuck in the Prado when the country was rid of Franco but it's probably more at home in the generally more modern Reina Sofia.
I wandered round trying to make the occasional note (particularly of the names of people who I mean to get round to looking up) but having waited over a month before getting round to writing it up I now can't remember if "Crap drawing with stupid subtitle (My First Tooth, 1922)" is something I saw on a wall or a comment upon the comments thereupon. I think "photocopy of a blank piece of paper" and "photograph of a blank negative" must be taking the piss but only because I haven't written a name and date next to those scribbles. There's another note saying "The walls are significantly noticeably off-white... maybe it's soothinger on the eyes in such a large gallery", another noting the presence of vast numbers of school groups and wishing that I'd been dragged round more galleries and museumses (not that there were a great many within easy reach of central Lincolnshire) as a schoolchild and another which appears to say (a month of being in a bag hasn't been kind to scribbled pencil) "Wish you were allowed to take photographs in these things, not of the exhibits but the distracted or intent people, standing appropriately in a large, well-lit (low-ISO) interesting space. The galleries themselves should surely want to. I shall perhaps suggest it, though not in the same email complaining about the wording on the captions".
One room was showing a few films companion-pieces to a space for an island universe comprising films of the explosion-in-the-Ikea-lighting-section chandelier-things in the lobby of the NY Met being raised and lowered on their wires accompanied by the same sort of sounds as used in sci-fi films in the eighties. Another was filled with wooden shelves on which wooden books had been carved. A nice mix of painty-wall things, sculpty-lump things, fillums and all the stuff in between. There was some sort of restauranty thing but the guide book warned us away; the ticket permitted exit and re-entrance and lunch-eating in the square to the north.