Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chagall at the Thyssen: Two Venues, One Vision

The Rooster, 1929
Thyssen-Bornemizsa Museum / Museo Thyssen-Bornemizsa
02/16/12 – Paseo del Prado, 8
Fundación Caja Madrid
02/17/12 – Pl. de San Martín, 1

The “golden triangle” of Madrid museums refers to the magnificent three: the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, all within walking distance of one another.  The Thyssen-Bornemisza could use a bit of name re-branding—those are six syllables many of us can’t begin to pronounce.  How about a monumental, sparkling “T” in the courtyard of the Thyssen?  On a gray day, the courtyard needs some perking up anyway.

Bland courtyard of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (entrance at left)

But for now, just pronounce it “TEE-sun,” and go!  Until 20 May 2012, the Thyssen is hosting a retrospective of the twentieth century Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) that will leave you weak at the knees.

Bouquet at Window, 1959

Actually, the Chagall exhibit has been split into two locations.  The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (8 euros) covers the first half of the artist’s life, from his early years in the village of Vitebsk, through stints in Paris and New York, until WWII.  The continuation of the exhibit--Chagall settled in the south of France and died in 1985--continues across town at the Fundación Caja Madrid building (free of charge).  Both halves will make you happy. 

Entrance, Fundacion Caja Madrid (free exhibit)

Window in the Country, 1915
In addition to major paintings, bronzes, ceramics and stained glass, the exhibit presents Chagall’s original illustrations for the novel Dead Souls, for the Bible, and for La Fontaine’s fables. A great many of the works have been gathered from private collections: it's likely that you will never see them again in your lifetime.  

There is something very satisfying about retrospectives. Presented this way, the works themselves tell a far better story than a book on Chagall ever could--unless it’s the exhibit catalog, a hefty 39 euro door-stop you will be sorely tempted to acquire.   


  1. I love visiting these venues but they are always so overwelming, covering so many rooms and galleries. Would be great to live in Madrid (I am down on the coast) and then visit regularly. I have written some articles for an Alicante based magazine on these Madrid attractions.

  2. Indeed, it can be overwhelming. I'm thinking of trying to see everything in the Prado in one day, just to find out if it can be done. More of a stunt, really, and I haven't yet worked up the nerve...

  3. Finally had a brief biography dedicated to a web-page: