Back in Malaga

Six days on the road. It was a wonderful trip, but it's good to be home. I'd like to comment on so much of what's happened, but I think I'll just start from the end and little by little work back as time allows. Yesterday in Barcelona we began the morning with a visit to the Miró museum with the students. Miró's work really doesn't say much to me. I guess more than the work itself I feel curious about how he became the famed figure he did. After that visit, Daniela, Asun and I walked over to the Art Museum of Catalonia in the Palau Nacional. I had never been inside before and was quite surprised by the size of the collection. It's huge! We limited our visit to some of the Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque art. Two works impressed me especially: a XII century polychrome wooden Christ on the cross and an Immaculate Conception by Zurbaran. The anonymous Christ figure is quite curious because the artist has him dressed in a colorful tunic that is rather oriental looking. Jesus on the cross, but triumphant, and no sign of suffering save the touch of sadness on his frowning face. And more than suffering, the artist seems to have captured a look of disappointment: look at what these dopey humans are up to! It's a very different story here. The sculpture's geometric harmony is also quite impressive. And the Zurbaran painting is wonderful. Even though it's an icon I've seen treated a million times, there's so often something interesting, something different. As usual, Zurbaran uses really young models, and I think in this case he's using the same model he used for the Sleeping Virgin painting I saw in Malaga (see "Sweet Dreams", 10/21/08). The colors are fantastic. The girl looks happy, worry free. Unfortunately, no image available. This museum also has a wonderful collection of late 15th century Hispano-Flemish painting, a really curious style in which faces, in particular, are depicted with extraordinary realism. After spending close to an hour wandering through what seemed like endless galleries, we decided an early lunch was in order, as Daniela had to get the 3:30 train back to Madrid. The Palau Nacional is a huge edifice constructed for a World's Fair in 1929. It was beautifully restored for the 1992 olympics. Well, our luck was good as we found a very nice restaurant right in the museum, and with a beautiful view of the city below us. The food was excellent, but a complete review merits a separate entry, as our time in Barcelona was marked by a trio of truly outstanding lunches. It was sad to say goodbye to Daniela, but we'll see her here in Malaga in a couple of weeks.