March 29, 2005


Prado.jpg I got to spend three days at the Prado and two at the Reina Sophia. I could do it again and again, no problem. My minor dread of sabotoging a memory in a former blogpost was unfounded, thankfully. Mom opted out and Stephanie was with me for the first two visits. The last one was a meandering, lingering and unmolested by the distortions given naturally by anticipation.

Our intiial entry in to the Prado was through the D?rer show and because of this, we came in through the main entrance. I get specific here because my memory of the Prado was not of the classical plan. But because my entrance as a thirteen year old was into the lower level secondary rear entrance, my memory was more labyrnthian. Then as well, I saw the Caprichos, now in storage, alas. Seeing the Prado first through a focused viewing of what are probably the finest prints (drawings, really) ever made... especially for a kid who had personally matriculated through several levels of drawing skills by then. Now I see the difference and I am glad it happened that way.

Thinking of this and realising that after almost fifty years, the Prado is maintaining the same exhibition program (a temporary show of incomparable master prints coupled with several galleries of titanic paintings)...


Even the Reina Sophia, as substantial as it is, seems just a wee bit fluffy by comparison.

greco1.jpg My strategy for taking pictures was to impulse shoot, to shoot a lot and edit later, and not to worry about the glare that washed out the colors in the camera. Unlike the Reina Sophia, the Prado didn't care if you shot pictures, just as long as one didn't use a flash. So I shot a load of them unsystematically. And post facto, I apply a light system as I serve them up to you, dear blogreader. Generally, I looked for new things, I wanted to be filled up with painting, I wanted to upset my applecart by looking at five hundred years of painting and seeing something that could change me... or not. So my camera usually pointed at anomolies.

greco2.jpg For example, paintings like this Greco... sans glistening eyes locked heavenward.
This is a good example, an atypical Greco.

pradoptgX.jpg This painting (the reference data, I didn't record, alas) reminded me that the common notion of the evolution of verisimilitude from the kouros thru the renaissance through the dissolution of representation instigated by mechanical reproduction is a cliche. Verisimilitude waxed and waned over the ages and the idea of representation melting into abstraction doesn't seem to have been such an alien idea to painters thru the centuries. This painting, for example was painted in the early 1600's, for example. And if you can get closer to it, the marks dissolve into a frenzy of colors and textures.

Get loose.

PradoMeninasRoom.jpg It would be nice to figure out in which season when the crowds ebb and I could get a little more privacy with these works. But as long as the crowds were there, it seemed only right to shoot them too.

lasMeninasClose.jpg Closer still.

PradoSaturnRoom2.jpg The crowds surged in the last day I was there, closer to the height of Semana Santa. I heard a lot of Yanqui accents, a welcome sound. But on this last day, the mass of people were pretty onerous. It was impossible to get near the "Saturn..."

Coming in the next few blogposts: Bosch, Goya: Court/Black/Cartoons, some sculpture, and the Reina Sophia.

Posted by Dennis at March 29, 2005 3:39 PM


Hi Dennis :

I ve been on and off browsing your web site. It is intresting to see how your doing now. I was a student of yours at Woodbury back yrs ago.
anyhow, nice to see this page. keep up the great sprite like you had always taught us at school.


It's great to hear from you! Those days at Woodbury are special ones. The students of course, but also the fellow teachers at that time, led by the incomparable and golden hearted Geraldine Forbes. I miss those days. But I knew then that they were special and I knew that I had to savor them and I knew that it too shall pass.

Every so often one can find oneself in such a special situation, the company of good people. I've been lucky: the first crew on my old ship, the near hippy commune of my college years, a few people of my grad school days, teaching architecture at Woodbury's then-new program, Chinatown Los Angeles.... kismet, all of them.

Thanks for the high five!


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