Saturday, December 27, 2014

Spain Exp'ained: Part 3

Not pictured: Carrot and Mandarin.
In Part 2, I discussed the history of Madrid and pastry. This time, I'll talk about the art of Madrid and gelato.

Retiro Park.
While the Museo Nacional del Prado seems to be Madrid's most famous art museum, from all I read it focused on art I don't care about: portraits of posed rich people, devotional pictures of deifically-rendered saints and biblical figures being lit by the heavens whilst suffering or being blessed. But the museum was free from 6 to 8 that particular day, just enough time for me to rush in to see the works of two artists who differed from the rest of the pack. Hieronymus Bosch did some paintings that look like what Dali would have made were he an evangelical Catholic at his peak. Surreal and whimsical, but at times a little creepy. Most notable is "The Garden of Earthly Delight," a triptych which depicts heaven, an overindulgent earth and hell, which kind of resembles Monty Python animation. Also featured there were some works by Francisco de Goya. He did some paintings of war that, rather than simply depicting spotless heroics, show the inhumane moments of battle, "El Tres de Mayo" especially. He also did the nauseating/haunting painting of "Saturn Devouring his Son" and the striking painting "The Dog."

Equipo Crónica's Espectador de
espectadores. Max Ernst's Red Birds.
Oskar Schlemmer's costumes
for Triadisches Ballett.
More my speed than the Prado was the modern art Museo Reina Sofia, which I went to a different day. This was the attraction that most excited me about Madrid and it certainly held up. It featured some classics (most notably Picasso's "Guernica," along with a lot of Dali and Miro), some lesser-knowns and some up-and-comers. I was excited that they also had some of the dance costumes Oskar Schlemmer designed during the Bauhaus movement, something I'd seen video of in theatre history class. A nice mix of mediums, complete with intriguing head scratchers and obvious masterpieces. Plenty of forgettable things and pretentious b.s. too, just to keep them honest. With four floors in three connected buildings, I was arted out when I left at 7:30. Adjacent to the museum is Retiro Park, whose gorgeous grounds deserved more time for exploration than I left in my day.

Museums are great and all, but the finest work of art I experienced in Madrid was the extraordinary gelato at Giangrossi. I was bummed they didn't have the 40 flavors I'd heard they had, but with 15 or so to choose from I still had trouble deciding. The best two flavors I had were Zanahoria y Mandarina (carrot and mandarin; a citrus blast with a clean aftertaste) and Mascarpone de Frutos Rojos (mascarpone with berries; a subtle base with a tart punch of berries swirled in). The other two flavors were Dulce de Leche (which was sweet sweet sweet and carmelly) and Chocolate con/with Cookies (deep dark chocolate). 

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