Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Joining the flock grazing through art at the Pompidou

Homage to Amnesty International

“Flock of Sheep,” Francois-Xavier Lalanne, 1965/1979, and “Model to the Third International,” a reconstruction of Vladimir Tatlin’s 1919-1920 monument made by Les Ateliers Longepe (Chatillon) in 1979 

The remodeled port area in Malaga is pristine. Probably particularly appealing to the crowds regurgitated from cruise ships who feel comforted by the familiar upscale chains that populate the waterfront mall.

Until 2015.

The City Council of Malaga took an incredibly bold step to enter into a contract with the Pompidou Center in Paris to open its first branch outside of France – Centre Pompidou Malaga. I have no idea whether the investment is paying off, but it’s a beautiful facility that mounts major exhibitions further enhancing Malaga’s strong reputation as a city of internationally important museums.

Of course, Malaga had a head start. It is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). And you cannot take many steps through the city without bumping into a reminder of the fact.

The museum is reputed to often attract crowds packed like sardines in a tin (apologies to Frank Scurti’s sardine-tin bed above). But we totally lucked out on our timing. Could relax and graze slowly gazing at the art (apologies also to Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s “Flock of Sheep,” evidently possessing good taste).

Truly felt like visiting a miniature Parisian Pompidou. Except luxuriously private and intimate.

Postcard from Valencia, Spain: A metropolis in which to happily get lost

Cities are the spearhead of the most outstanding experiences and the most daring behavior, the places where the greatest development of the arts takes place. Consequently many artists choose life in the city as one of the central features of their work, with the city (often) being understood as a collage of a host of discontinuous, fragmented memories and experiences, a confused labyrinth in which the inhabitants cross paths with one another but remain immersed in their own thoughts.

Jose Miguel G. Cortes, director of IVAM

From the balcony of the apartment we are renting in Valencia, we have a personal portal into Valencia’s Institute of Modern Art, better known as IVAM. Unfortunately, all this portal permits us to see is one of the museum’s stairwells; we have to walk around to the main entrance and pay to enter.

But “Lost in the City,” an exhibition drawn from IVAM’s extensive permanent collections, was a worthwhile place to begin our stay in Spain’s third largest city. Organized around themes, the show portrays more than a century of artists’ positive and negative reactions to the growth of metropolitan areas. The snapshots below capture a few of the included works, but I was derelict in recording many of the artists’ names.

IVAM also introduced us to the works, “Corpus,” of Helena Almeida, a Portuguese artist renowned for her performance and conceptual art.

The original core of the institute’s huge collection of sculptures are by a Spaniard, Julio Gonzalez (1876-1972). Born into a family of craftsmen working in metal in Barcelona, Gonzalez yearned for more artistic expressions than construction projects allowed. Traveling to Paris to immerse himself in the thriving art community, he collaborated with Pablo Picasso in the 1920s on a series of metal sculptures that involved a mutual exchange of their creative expertise.

The harsher depictions of metropolitan scenes captured in many works in “Lost in the City” and our stark view of the museum’s portal stand in contrast to our current experiences in Valencia. The heart of this city is pedestrian and bicycle oriented. Our neighborhood is crisscrossed by a rabbit-like warren of winding narrow streets constantly interrupted by intimate plazas filled with lively cafes.

Despite its population of 800,000 residents, even strangers feel welcome in the warmth of such a walkable environment. Becoming lost under the stimulating spell of Valencia is an urban journey beckoning us daily.

Fortunately, the 1927 version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is not what life has become…. at least not here.

 

Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.

Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang, 1927