Alone With Art in Spain
Alone With the ART: A Twofold Experience
Spain is the birthplace of so many legendary artists: El Greco, Zurburan, Velazquez and Goya of the old world, then the pioneering modern styles of Miro, Dali, Picasso and more. It’s also a country that loved to hoard art throughout the centuries, with now-public collections that rival anywhere in the world. But like the architecture, art isn’t something that’s restricted to the galleries. A unique artistic style has permeated everything since the arrival of the Moors in the 8th century. It helps to creates an inspiring twofold experience.
There are the impressive galleries, where you can spend entire days exploring Spanish and European art. Then there is the superb everyday art: a mural in a city cathedral, a mesmerizing stained-glass window, the vintage artworks displayed in restaurants and the ornate detail that decorates a great proportion of the buildings. Admire the grand Moorish style of Andalusia, the distinctive art of the Mudejars and Moriscos, then what has been left behind from Hasburg rule and the Spanish Golden Age of Art. Most of the time you don’t need to seek out the art: it’s everywhere you go.
The Spanish Experience: Madrid’s Trio of World-Class Museums
For more than five centuries, Madrid has been one of Europe’s great art capitals. Three galleries are unmissable for anyone interested in art, except they are often missed as people don’t have enough time in the capital to see more than one of them. Ideally you should save at least half a day for each. A storyline of European art unfolds in the world-famous Prado Museum. As well as holding the greatest abundance of works from the Spanish masters – Almedina, Machuca, Zurbaran, Velazquez, Goya – you’ll discover iconic Flemish and Italian paintings.
Just around the corner from the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza is widely recognized as the world’s greatest private art collection. It takes you on a wide-ranging story of Western art through the ages and is usually the connoisseur’s choice as Madrid’s number one gallery. The Renia Sophia completes the triad and picks up the storyline, focusing on art from the late 19th-century onwards. This is where you’ll find timeless pieces from Picasso, Dali and the evolving art nouveau painters. It’s well worth planning a visit to avoid the midday crowds. The museums also open for free one evening a week.
The Niche Experience: In the Footsteps of the Artists
Cities are understandably proud of their artistic sons. Not just because the artist hailed from that city, but because most of the city was designed and defined by a single artist’s work. These cities have wonderful self-guided walking trails that allow you to discover the contrasting works, in the galleries as well as at religious buildings, palaces, courts and vernacular buildings.
El Greco in Toledo – Spain’s finest art trail is that of El Greco, the artist credited with bringing the Italian Renaissance to the Iberian Peninsula. Toledo is a short train journey from Madrid and following the trail is a highly recommended afternoon trip.
Picasso in Barcelona – Picasso’s most famous works are dotted around the world; Barcelona is where you can find thousands of his early works and chart the development of his style.
Dali in Figueres – Spain’s controversial mustachioed artist hails from Catalonia and his home gallery is the second most visited in Spain (after the Prado).
Sorolla in Madrid – Little known but highly influential, Sorolla is a good artist to explore if you want to understand the evolution from classic Golden Age art to contemporary art nouveaux.
Our upcoming Mediterranean itinerary includes a month Madrid, the Spanish capital, where you can discover all about Sorolla and the many wonderful Spanish artists in the region. We're departing in April 2018. Click below to learn more!